By Tiombe Bisa Kendrick-Dunn
For gifted and talented children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds, navigating society is an ongoing challenge. A paucity of catalysts vital to the success of these children such as prescribed guidance, equity in educational opportunities, parental support, advocacy, and high quality extracurricular activities, often hinder their growth as well as fruition of their potential. The deleterious impact these conditions often have across the lifespan on the social and emotional development of gifted and talented children from CLD backgrounds is nothing short of egregious! Often times when these children commence formal schooling, they naturally feel high levels of enthusiasm about school and all it’s proverbial trimmings. However, these jovial feelings begin to evaporate for many of these children by the time they reach middle school or early adolescence. By this time, countless numbers of gifted and talented children from CLD backgrounds have experienced a myriad of challenges including lack of high quality educational opportunities, discrimination, racism, and lowered expectations.
As many of these children transition to adulthood, the negative remnants of their childhood experiences spills over into their adult lives. Despite putting forward enormous work ethic and exhibiting various gifts and talents these students seem to continue experiencing similar levels of disenfranchisement as their ancestors. As professionals, gifted CLD adults find themselves struggling to advance in their fields despite high levels of competencies. Others are rebuffed for their recognition, levels of sensitivity, and emotional involvement related to the historical plights of their cultures of origin. After time, hopelessness, doubt, and anger begins to surface as a way to cope with dealing with stress related to the consistent and ongoing disenfranchisement experienced by these CLD gifted adults who once held huge dreams that never materialized. The latter is often extremely painful for these individuals. Unfortunately, resources to address this specific phenomenon are lacking and in some circles not deemed important.
Our society must begin to acknowledge the unique social and emotional challenges related to being a gifted and talented adult from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Until the latter is done, these individuals will continue to suffer in painful silence. As a society, we cannot afford to continue ignore the talent and gifts of CLD individuals and we must begin to support their professional growth.
Tiombe Bisa Kendrick-Dunn is a nationally certified school psychologist and is licensed to practice school psychology in the state of Florida. She has been employed with the Miami-Dade County Public School District as a school psychologist since 2005. In 2006, Ms. Kendrick-Dunn was a member of Miami-Dade Public Schools Gifted Task Force Committee and was awarded the Mary Frasier Scholarship sponsored by the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC). In 2007, she was both appointed to the NAGC Diversity/ Equity Committee and was awarded a grant by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Children Fund Inc to establish a resource center specifically designed for gifted students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Ms. Kendrick-Dunn has presented at numerous professional conventions on the topic of gifted children and currently serves as the SENG Board President.