Saturday, August 23, 2014

Too Black to be So Smart OR Too Smart to be Black

With all that our nation has seen, heard and experienced in recent weeks regarding racial discrimination, profiling, crime against black youth, and militarized policing- the multiple & complex issues of RACE IN AMERICA have come front and center once again. I sense, however, that this time some real and sustainable action will occur to change relationships between the black  community, police and other officials, and perhaps have a more profound positive effect on the future of race relations than since the civil rights era.

As an educator my heart is always with the young people and how they are treated in our communities. Even moreso, I am always concerned about how the nation’s educational system is framed to provide for their educational needs or NOT. In the past few years,  I’ve had numerous conversations with parents and young people about accessing gifted education services..too many times I have heard them share stories of someone being told that they were ‘too black to be so smart’ OR ‘so smart, you can’t really be black’. If I hear it again.. I know I’m going to SCREAM!!!

What  sensible person would suggest to someone that just because their skin has more melanin or they come from a different neighborhood  or their hair is of a different texture, that they can’t possibly be highly intelligent, smart, gifted, be a nerd, prodigy or whatever smart people are called in their circle. But believe it or not- it’s still being said!! Sadly, there are homogenous communities in this country where people can spend a large portion of their time and never come across, interact with, rub shoulders with or be in the same space with a person who is not of their ethnic/racial group. Thus, experiences with other race individuals is very limited. So in some communities.. if they see a brown or black person they are in a subservient role… cleaning up, serving, taking care of someone else. Even in 2014, this happens and so when we begin suggesting that BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE CAN BE GIFTED, TOO the reaction is often disbelief or a ‘maybe, but..’ !! Following the ‘but’ thought is- that ‘there may be one or two, but they are just an anamoly.. surely there aren’t anymore.

It does my heart so much good to see the numerous articles and pictures posted across social media and even periodically shared on the television news of Black and Brown prodigies, early college graduates, just remarkable young people who demonstrate their ‘smarts’ in countless ways!!

I’m excited to see others join this very important mission to share with the world that our children are GIFTED, TOO!! JUST AS SMART, INGENIOUS, PRODUCTIVE, CREATIVE AS OTHERS!! That the time for stereotyping of black and brown youth is far from over!!! We have piles of evidence, stories, research studies, proof positive in every community in America that GIFTEDNESS EXISTS!! Homeless gifted, single parent gifted, male gifted, female gifted, tech savvy gifted, musical geniuses, math prodigies, early college grads, young entrepreneurs, young philanthropists, high IQ gifted, gifted of all kinds!!!!

GIFTEDNESS KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES OF NEIGHBORHOOD, SKIN COLOR, GENDER, CULTURE, OR FAMILY TYPE. GIFTED CHILDREN AND YOUTH ARE EVERYWHERE, ORIGINATING FROM EVERY CORNER OF THIS EARTH!! What we need is for school personnel to recognize them and provide access to advanced learning opportunities for them, train teachers to meet their needs and help families become stronger advocates for them. No excuses, educators- it a program for gifted youth exist in your community, there is an arsenal of support to help you do better for ALL gifted children.

Just in case you haven’t seen any of the evidence recently, listed below are a few links to validate everything I’ve written here. 

Go the sites, share the links, discuss them, and

Please don’t allow anyone to ever say again…that a Black child is-


Thank you, Dr. Joy 


  1. Dr. Joy,

    Thank you for this post! I can relate to this negativity towards our children of color as I recall hearing some of my own classmates telling me I sounded and acted "white." I was called this for being intelligent and a hard worker, for loving school. It is disheartening to remember this but I am so blessed to have not let those comments bother me when I was younger. I was so lucky to have a loving family and support system at school who celebrated my love for learning and achievements. Our children need to be celebrated for their gifts and talents and we need to be that voice for them! I agree, there is talent in every corner of the world and we need to be advocates for our students and youth, especially during these times. Thank you for being that voice for our children.


    1. Hi Elle,
      Pardon me for taking so long to respond. Thank YOU for sharing your story, too.. as an accomplished educator, you know what this experience is like and unfortunately so many gifted children & youth are still experiencing this type of ridicule.

      Together, we can make a difference and put an end to stereotyping and bullying of gifted children who LOOK different and come from different backgrounds. Thank you so much for sharing...

      We're all in this together,

      Dr. Joy

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