Academic journal article High School Journal

Beyond Self-Concept and Self-Esteem: Racial Identity and Gifted African American Students

Academic journal article High School Journal

Beyond Self-Concept and Self-Esteem: Racial Identity and Gifted African American Students

Article excerpt

While it is recognized that self-concept and self-esteem affect the academic achievement of students, few publications have focused on the affective and psychological needs of students who are gifted and ethnically or culturally diverse. In this article, we extend the discussion of self-concept and achievement by focusing on how racial identity development affects the achievement of gifted African American students. We argue that few efforts, designed to improve gifted Black students" achievement and social-emotional well-being, will be successful until educators focus specifically on their racial identity. While we acknowledge that a focus on racial identity is necessary for all African American students, we are most concerned in this article with gifted Black students because so few have been identified as gifted. Along with describing racial identity development and issues facing gifted African American students, we offer solutions for change.

Introduction

Educators and parents have expressed concerns about the affective and psychological needs of students, particularly as these needs affect student achievement. While it is recognized that self-concept and self-esteem affect the achievement of students, few publications have focused on the affective and psychological needs of students who are gifted and ethnically or culturally diverse. Specifically, one body of research has focused on gifted students while another body of work has focused on culturally-diverse students. Many studies have examined the effects of labeling on gifted students' self-image and their feelings about being gifted (Robinson, 1989), as well as whether gifted students have unique needs by virtue of being gifted, and whether they contend with more affective and psychological issues than other students (Neihart, Reis, Robinson, & Moon (2002). Likewise, several authors have studied the affective and psychological needs of African American students, particularly how such needs influence their achievement (Fordham, 1988, 1991; Steele, 1997, 1999).

Few studies have examined the self-perception and psychological well-being of gifted minority students. This article attempts to fill this void in our knowledge regarding the affective and psychological developmental needs of culturally-diverse students, specifically African American students. Using a Venn diagram as our conceptual model, we have explored, extrapolated, and integrated the literature on the effective and psychological needs of gifted students as well as the needs of African American students in general (Ford, 1996; Ford, Harris, Tyson, & Frazier Trotman, 2003; Grantham & Ford, 1996). We have concluded, as have others, that gifted students in general and gifted African American students in particular have unique needs that educators and counselors must consider in their work.

Due to space limitations, the affective and psychological needs of gifted students in general are not discussed here; readers are referred to publications by The National Association for Gifted Children (2003) and Coleman and Cross (2001) for such information, instead, we focus on the literature related to gifted Black (1) students, paying particular attention to identification and achievement issues. Within this discussion, we rely extensively on the most widely researched theory of racial identity development (Cross, 1971, 1995; Cross & Vandiver, 2001) as the foundation of our discussion. Using this theory, we draw implications from research and conceptual treatises on African American students in general and gifted African American students in particular. This article concludes with suggestions for academic and counseling interventions appropriate for use with gifted Black students.

Gifted Education and African American Students: An Overview

Over four decades of data indicate that African American students are under-represented in gifted programs and despite efforts to reverse this problem, percentages do not seem to be changing. …

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