Making the "Invisible" Visible

In their statement, Championing Equity and Social Justice for Black Students in Gifted Education: An Expanded Vision for NAGC, the Board of Directors said, “NAGC will not endorse, support, or engage in any action that reinforces, promotes, or advances racism or racist movements, including but not limited to racial microaggressions, colorblind ideology, culture-blind policies and practices, and scientific racism in scholarship” (2020, July 14). This goal is only achievable if gifted education researchers, scholars, and practitioners educate themselves and push back against social representations that invisiblize American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students.

Consistently, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students are left out of gifted education studies, literature, and conversations; even those that focus on racial equity. In their book Beyond the Asterisk, Shotton, Lowe, and Waterman facilitate discussions regarding what Native scholars have come to refer to as the “American Indian research asterisk” (2013, p. 2). This phenomenon occurs as a symptom of the extreme invisibility Native students experience within educational research, often due to small populations being considered statistically insignificant or skewing expected results. Invisibility is an extreme form of colorblind ideologies (Fryberg and Stephens, 2010). Ford (2014) reveals colorblind ideologies to be a form of microaggressions that support the unearned privileging of whites.

From my own research experience the inclusion of these populations required alternate analyses to those used with all other racial student groups. But in gifted education this has not been the standard. The standard has been exclusion or asterisking of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students. Reasons in our field have ranged from citing their small populations (Gentry & Fugate, 2012) to their data crowding graphs and making them difficult to read (Gentry et al., 2019).

As members of the National Association for Gifted Children, if we are to meet the clarion call of our organization and Champion Equity and Social Justice in Gifted Education we must stop making excuses. With conscious intent we can find alternative analyses to include these smaller populations. With broader searches we can identify literature by and with American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians to inform our practice. With sincerity of purpose we can educate ourselves and make the invisible, visible.  

Authors:

Anne M. Gray, Ph.D. (she/her) is white (Welsh, French, German, English), married and has four grown children. She received a PhD in Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education from Purdue University in 2020 and currently works on a Title V grant at New Mexico Tech. Her research interests focus on access to and equity in K-12 gifted education and higher education for Native American and historically underrepresented students. 

Sarena M. Gray, (she/her) is Diné and received a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from Brown University in 2018. In August she will enter the Ph.D. of Adult and Higher Education program at University of Oklahoma. Her research interests focus on the educational experiences of Native and Indigenous students.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of NAGC

References

Ford, D. Y. (2014). Segregation and the underrepresentation of Blacks and Hispanics in gifted education: Social inequality and deficit paradigms. Roeper Review, 36, 143–154. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/02783193.2014.919563

Fryberg, S. A., & Stephens, N. M. (2010) When the World is colorblind, American Indians are invisible: A diversity science approach. Psychological Inquiry, 21(2), 115-119. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/1047840X.2010.483847

Gentry, M., & Fugate, C. M. (2012). Gifted Native American students: Underperforming, under-identified, and overlooked. Psychology in the Schools, 49, 631–646. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.21624   

Gentry, M., Gray, A., Whiting, G. W., Maeda, Y., & Pereira, N. (2019). Access denied/system failure: Gifted education in the United States: Laws, access, equity, and missingness across the country by locale, Title I school status, and race. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.

National Association for Gifted Children Board of Directors. (2020, July 14). Championing Equity and Social Justice for Black Students in Gifted Education: An Expanded Vision for NAGC. National Association for Gifted Children. https://www.nagc.org/championing-equity-and-supporting-social-justice-black-students-gifted-education-expanded-vision

Shotton, H. J., Lowe, S. C., & Waterman, S. J. (Eds.). (2013). Beyond the asterisk: Understanding Native students in higher education. Stylus Publishing LLC.

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