Supporting Black Gifted Students with Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

gender nonconformity kids
This week I’m talking with Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, an award-winning author, professional learning trainer, independent consultant, and equity activist. Dr. Davis’ areas of expertise and focus are culturally responsive teaching, supporting Black gifted students, equity and access in gifted education programs, and meeting the needs of diverse gifted learners.

Dr. Davis is the author of Bright Talented & Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners; Gifted Children of Color Around the World: Diverse Needs, Exemplary Practices & Directions for the Future, and her recently released books Empowering Underrepresented Gifted Students: Perspectives from the Field and Culturally Responsive Teaching in Gifted Education.

This is a jam-packed conversation with a lot of resources for parents and schools. We talked about special gifts that Black gifted children have that are often missed, the biggest roadblocks in traditional education models for Black gifted students, and how schools can support the Black families in their community and make their programs more inclusive. I asked Joy her perspective on the very timely issue of racial disparities in public gifted school programs, as well her ideas for white families who want to join the fight for equity in gifted programs.

About Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

Dr. Joy Lawson Davis is an award-winning author, scholar, professional learning trainer, independent consultant, and equity activist. Her areas of expertise are culturally responsive teaching; equity and access in Gifted Education programs and meeting the needs of diverse gifted learners with multiple exceptionalities. Davis is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, School of Education/Gifted Education. She holds two degrees in Gifted Education from the College of William & Mary. Dr Davis is a sought-after keynote speaker and trainer for organizations, school districts and state agencies across the nation and internationally- in South Africa, the Caribbean, Dubai & Turkey. Davis is a former Associate Professor & Chair, Dept of Teacher Education at Virginia Union University and earlier as an Assistant Professor, The School of Education at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, where she taught undergraduate and graduate coursework in Teacher Education and Gifted Education. She also served five years on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children. She is the author of numerous publications including books: Bright Talented & Black: A Guide for families of African American gifted learners; Gifted Children of Color Around the World: Diverse Needs, Exemplary Practices & Directions for the Future (co-edited with James L Moore, III) and upcoming books: Empowering Underrepresented Gifted Students: Perspectives from the Field (co-edited with Deb Douglas) and Culturally Responsive Teaching in Gifted Education (co-edited with Matt Fugate, Wendy Behrens & Cecilia Boswell); and Bright, Talented & Black, 2nd Edition and Bright Talented & Black Educator’s Supplement.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • Why Dr. Davis does the work she does for underrepresented and Black gifted students
  • What Joy sees as the biggest roadblocks in traditional education models for Black gifted students when it comes to being identified as gifted and getting the support and opportunities they deserve
  • How schools can support Black families in their communities and make their programs more inclusive
  • What public schools can do to support all of their gifted students and address the racial disparities in their programs
  • How test prepping for gifted programs creates an unfair barrier, and other types of screenings that can be used instead
  • How white families can be allies when it comes to ensuring gifted programs are inclusive and representative


Resources mentioned for supporting Black gifted students


Episode Transcript

Joy Lawson Davis  00:00

I will never say that we should be eliminating gifted programs in order to create equity in our schools. What we should do is change the way that we identify students for gifted services, change the way teachers are trained, change the way we collaborate with families and with those parents of those students, change the way we, you know, we do everything in the name of educating our brightest students. They are everywhere.

Debbie Reber  00:34

Welcome to Tilt Parenting, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host, Debbie Reber. This is the last episode of this season and the 2021 and I’m excited to close that with an incredible guest. I’m talking with Dr. Joy Lawson Davis and award winning author, professional learning trainer, independent consultant and equity activist. Dr. Davis’s areas of expertise and focus are culturally responsive teaching, equity and access and gifted education programs and meeting the needs of diverse gifted learners. Joy is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Education gifted education, a sought after keynote speaker and trainer for organizations, school districts and state agencies across the nation and internationally. She is the author of Bright, Talented and Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners, Gifted Children of Color Around the World: Diverse Needs, Exemplary Practices, and Directions for the Future. And during this interview, you’ll hear us talk about her recently released books Empowering Underrepresented Gifted Students: Perspectives From the Field and Culturally Responsive Teaching and Gifted Education. As you can probably tell, Dr. Davis is a very busy person and this is a jam-packed conversation with a lot of resources for parents and schools. We talked about special gifts that black gifted children have that are often missed the biggest roadblocks in traditional education models for black gifted students, and how schools can support the black families in their community and make their programs more inclusive. I also asked Joy her perspective on the very timely issue of racial disparities in public gifted school programs, as well as her ideas for white families who want to join the fight for equity and gifted programs. I hope this conversation leaves you feeling a sense of urgency mixed with a powerful boost of inspiration and motivation. Also, I did take a lot of notes during this episode and Dr. Davis shared a ton of resources so I encourage you to visit the show notes page, you’ll also find a list of key takeaways, a transcript and a podcast player with the episode broken down into chapters. So if you want to go back and re-listen to a specific piece of the conversation, you can easily find it. This week’s episode can be found at A quick reminder that if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed with changing schedules, family and in-law dynamics, big expectations and tricky kid energy, you could use a giant reset button so you can wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Check out my new mini course, The Emergency Reset. I created this to help you get out of a negative parent-child cycle and prevent you from getting dragged back into that cycle moving forward. Learn more at Lastly, as I said at the head of the episode, this is the last new episode for 2021. I’ll be back with brand new episodes starting February 1 2022. And I’ve already started interviewing people for the next season. I can tell you right now it’s going to be a good season. I’ve got episodes coming up with a Mona Delahooke, with Maria Kennedy, Anne Louise Lockhart, Natasha Daniels and much more. I cannot wait to share it with you. And of course if you miss the show between now and February 1, I encourage you to go back into the archives and listen or re-listen to some oldies but goodies. I hope you have a restorative, spacious and beautiful holiday break. Whatever you celebrate, however you’re spending it and I can’t wait to reconnect with you in the new year. Okay, that’s enough for me. Let’s go to my conversation with Dr. Joy Lawson Davis.

Debbie Reber  04:51

Hello, Dr. Davis, welcome to the podcast.

Joy Lawson Davis  04:54

Thank you. Good morning.

Debbie Reber  04:56

Good morning. Yes, we are starting this bright and early on Friday, which is impressive, I think for both of us. But I’m really looking forward to this conversation. And so I have read your bio, and you have a very distinguished career in this field. But I would love to hear in your words a little bit more about the work that you do in the world and the purpose driven mission of your work?

Joy Lawson Davis  05:20

Well, yes, it is a purpose driven mission, I would say that, but I really appreciate you having me today to come and talk a little bit about my work. I’ve been at this for a few decades now. And I add, I take it as, as a part of my reason, actually, for even being here, not just see on your podcast, but being in general, I see that there is still so much work to be done in the in the field of gifted education and general education, in terms of equity. And because of the ways that I’ve gone about seeking information, because I talk to educators, I talk to parents and conduct my own research, but I also try to document as much as I can, so that I can share my work with others through writing. I believe that we have not done well. We have not done well, in general education by students of color. Students from poverty backgrounds, students who are twice exceptional, or as we call them now, often twice exceptional, those who are culturally diverse and twice exceptional. There are a number of student groups that we have not done well by in the field of education. As a result, these students remain marginalized. Their needs, the interests of the students and their families are not at the center and the core of what we do as educators. And so I continue with the work I do for that very reason. I know this may sound a little vague, but it is what I do and why. I think that I have a I will say, you know, without sounding egotistical, I have a special gift for reaching audiences. And and I use that I use that everywhere I can either through again speaking with them training, writing, just having people face themselves and face where they’re where they are, what their role is, what kind of biases Do we still hold on to that keep children children of color, in particular, from being recognized and being served and what we call gifted education and advanced loaner programs in this country? And so, you know, basically, that’s, that’s what I do and why I do it. I think as we explore this topic, in the next hour, we will dig a little deeper into some of the outcomes of my work. Thanks, Deb. Thank you for asking that question.

Debbie Reber  08:03

That was such a great introduction. And obviously your passion comes through and you do have such a gift for this work. And that’s the first time I’ve heard that term, thrice exceptional as well. Share with us what you see as some of the unique gifts of black gifted children.

Joy Lawson Davis  08:19

Black gifted children, let’s say this, let’s start off by saying that gifted children share common traits. They’re curious, they, they, they can, you know, Master material in classes and classroom far beyond their age peers. They’re very compassionate. They’re very intense sometimes. And that those are some of the very few traits that gifted children share across areas across their different backgrounds. But I think with black gifted children, oftentimes we are overlooking the fact that these children do share because of our historical background. These children do share also some verbal gifts that we don’t always pay attention to in the classroom. They are the ones who can use words in different ways that enjoy doing that. They are great orators or they are great at speech making if you give them the opportunity. These kids are really good at exploring and using words and competition like in debate, they’re very, very good at that. These children are also very creative. They do tend to explore to excel, excuse me in the arts, and all the fine arts areas. They are also good at problem solving, particularly when problems are shared with them that are relevant to themselves in their community. Again, they do have a deep compassion for their own community for humankind. And again, if we expose them, we have give them opportunities to share their passions, they will do that. They are very, very good, I would say in the area and the STEM areas as well, it’s hands on, it’s problem solving, it addresses their curiosity. We, you know, again, so some of the traits they have may be different from other gifted children, but some may be very much the same as other gifted children. So we don’t want to, we want to focus attention on what they do that’s different. But we also want to say to educators that if you were to look at black children, in the same ways that you look at majority culture, children or white children are affluent children as being able to share what their gifts are, rather than looking at them for what they can’t do, you know, that deficit based approach that we’ve used for so long, you know, that’s that that time is over, we really need to begin looking at all of our students for what they bring to the classroom, what they what they bring, what kind of what kind of hot they bring, you know, what kind of skill sets they bring, what did they bring into the classroom, that because it happened to be packaged, as as black or brown, or happen to be poor, we’re not paying as much attention to them as we do to those other students. So, you know, it’s, as my mom would say, six on one side and a half a dozen on the other, we really have to look at who these tools do not and what they what they offer to us. You know, in the classroom,

Debbie Reber  11:27

I have had episodes on the podcast in the past few years about the way that black children are under diagnosed or late diagnosed with autism, ADHD, I actually just interviewed a behavioral optometrist about visual problems and the way that black children are often not or under there under diagnosed with first sight of this issues that can then be misdiagnosed as either ADHD or behavioral problems. And, and so I know the same goes with gifted children, that there are a lot of roadblocks in black and brown children being identified as gifted. Can you talk a little bit about what kind of what you see is the biggest, you know, what’s really getting in the way of that?

Joy Lawson Davis  12:12

Okay, so I want to capture, and I know, we hear this, and we talk about this a lot across education now. But I want to capture all of what I’m about to say, and what is what is called structural racism. You know, we, you know, the way schools are set up, the way that schools have been set up in this in this nation over time, have not been to favor black children, it’s not been around who they are, and what again, what they bring to the classroom. So because we don’t have teachers who are properly trained, to look at their cultural strengths, to look at their cultural legacy, we teachers who don’t know how to communicate with these children. And we know that at this point in our schools, most of our schools across the country, the majority of classrooms, teachers are white, middle class females. And so if they hadn’t had the background, the other still have the understandings of what it means to be black. And you know, what it means to express yourself in you know, it within our own communities, then these teachers need specifically need training and culturally responsive teaching, we have to absolutely make sure that every teacher that faces children who are different than them, different in terms of cultural background, racial background, that language background, that they have training, so that they can meet these children where they are, and then they can perhaps, begin to see the strengths and the gifts that these children bring into the classroom. So classroom teacher training is critical. The lack of engagement that we have with black families across the country in most schools, not all but many schools are not engaging black families in a positive way. They’re just not doing it. They’re not looking at once again, you know, what is it about being a black family in the black community that makes us different from the traditional? Or the, you know, the broader majority culture families? What is it different? What, you know, what do we bring into all of this? You know, how do we raise our children perhaps differently? How do we bring into our households what our legacy is in? And why is it that we say to families, to our children, that they have to work twice as hard in order to be seen in order to be recognized, you know, so in order for schools to understand that they have to engage with black families in a respectful way to understand that traditions, the values, the norms, bring black families in, I can’t tell you how many times I have done workshops over the years and school districts, evening town workshop, the school district setup when they bring me in, you know, to do PD for the teachers in the evenings. Oftentimes, we would We would have, we would do two things. And one day, in the evening time, I will meet with families. And I cannot tell you how many times I’ve met with families, from large school districts, urban area from rural from the eastern part of the United States, to the west, to the to the southwest, all the way out to California, in New Jersey, in Milwaukee, I’ve met with families all over the country, black families, who was my workshop session is over, when I’m talking to them about their gifted children, and how they can advocate what they can do to support their children at home, many of them will come up to me afterwards and say, Dr. Davis, it felt like you were in my house, that you were in my living room that you were right with me while I was raising this kid. But if you hadn’t come tonight, I would not have known about this. Now, you know, given this school district did invite me in so it was at their prompting that I was there. But the fact that these parents have had high school kids, you know, kids in elementary middle school, in this school district for a period of time, and before they invited me in these families didn’t know about the gifted program. So you know, we are not even reaching out, we’re not even getting the information out into these communities. So that’s one of my biggest, you know, my biggest recommendations is that school districts work harder to get information about gifted services, and AP, you know, universal donor programming, enrichment, programming, everything they offer in these public school settings, needs to be made available and disseminated to all communities, to all communities. And then you know, they may or may need to make sure that those communities have access and also invite them to the table. You now know that sounds cliche, but invite them to the Advisory Council, there shouldn’t be an advisory council for gifted education anywhere in this country that is not demographically representative. That is not demographically representative. But I did, I will tell you that if we were to take a poll right now, in any state, in pretty much any state, to ask them about demographic representation on gifted advisory councils, you will not see what we want to see what we need to see. So demographic representation is critical. It’s critical, you can’t you can’t say we’re going to set up a new program, or we’re going to expand our services, without making sure that the very parents and community leaders, the faith leaders, even from those communities, sorority fraternity, you know, there are lots of people in these communities who can come in and advise school districts on how better to serve their children, their children, we’re not bringing them to the table. And that’s very, very important for us that I could say, I could spend the next three hours telling you different ways that we can go about doing that. But it’s absolutely important that families, these families that we’re targeting for, you know, for changing our gifted program services for making them more exclusive, inclusive, and you know, you know, making them more Invitational that we make sure that those people, those students, those families, have a seat at the table, and then the other thing to do, and then I’ll kind of move on, I know you have a few other questions. But the other thing to do is oftentimes when we are setting up these kinds of workshops and advisory council meetings or or parent training sessions, why not take some of that information out into the community, offer it at a community center? Why not? Why not do it in the evening, of course, we’re doing them in the evenings anyway. But why not do it on Saturday morning, I work with the school district for a number of years and eventually be able to get our parents sessions out into the community on a Saturday morning, Saturday morning. A lot of the families bring the young children with them and set up a place for a room or two with young children that can be cared for with games or with books, you know, bring some college students in to help you out. Make sure people have something to eat and get those parents clustered up together and talk to them about those gifted children. We have so much more we can do to ensure that there is equity not just in identifying students, but also equity in ensuring that we have stronger parents and school can school and community collaboration. If we want the school wards to listen to the need for expanding services, the people that I can do that for us better than even the educators themselves would be those parents and communities, community members, they come forward, oftentimes school board members, policy makers, people who do the funding, they’ll listen, they will listen to those individuals. Sometimes they’ll listen to us as educators. I think I hope I didn’t go off of where you were asking me to talk about some of the barriers, some of the roadblocks, you know?

Debbie Reber  20:28

No, it’s very, you know, I can, again, hear your passion for just there’s so much work to be done. But also you seem very positive and optimistic about that. This is something we can do together, that there are so many different ways to tackle this problem. And that is really inspiring. As you were talking, I was thinking about, for a lot of people really thinking about this idea of inequity and gifted programs. I mean, it’s certainly been in the news and certain school districts throughout the US in the past maybe decade, there have been a lot of different approaches to what that looks like. But the podcast series Nice White Parents, which I’m sure many of my listeners had listened to, which came out a few years ago really highlighted the ways in which many public schools are essentially segregated and how problematic many gifted programs are. And you know, it’s kind of funny. My child, Asher is 17 year old, we listened to that show together, we live a few blocks from that school, and we’re open. So we’ve had lots of conversations about that show, and, and just what it kind of brought up for so many people. I’m wondering what you think, from the point of view of gifted programs, full time gifted programs, and what is inherently problematic? What do you see as the way to move forward with public schools to support all of their gifted students while addressing those racial disparities?

Joy Lawson Davis  21:52

The racial disparities, the segregation in gifted programs is real. We know that we know it’s real, we can go into a majority listen to this, we can go to majority of low income school or school where the majority of black and brown students and go into the classroom if they have a pullout, or a pullout program, go into the classroom where the gifted kids on the gifted kids will likely if there are any white kids in the district, they’re more than likely be will be white kids and the black and brown kids don’t get, don’t get selected for that program. Until we, you know, started looking at once again, alternative methods for identifying students, we couldn’t continue to have this disparities pop up, they’re going to they’re going to show up, they’re going to be the name of gifted is still equated with elitism in the school in this country. I started, you know, this word a number of years ago, and the biggest complaint that I heard, you know, back in the 80s, back in the 80s, the biggest complaint I heard was about gifted programs being elitist. And it just irritated me so much not just because what that suggests is that the only kids who are gifted a white kids only kids or gifted kids whose parents have means that affluent kids and middle class kids that irritated me and so forth to say now what we’re going to do in order to make sure that we have more equity and gifted programs, we’re going to eliminate the programs. That doesn’t make any sense. That doesn’t make any sense at all. Because what that suggests is that kids of color, black kids, brown kids, even poor kids can’t be gifted. And so that’s a slap in the face. That’s that’s absolutely a slap in the face, it’s a very, to me, is a very shrewd way very shrewd way of reorganizing programming, you know, in in schools making it available, they’re gonna change the names of it, perhaps, but But you know, students whose parents have means affluent, stute affluent parents will always get what they want out of public schools, if they want to stay in public schools gonna always get what they want, because they have the means they’re the power players, you know, they’re the power players, they’re the ones who can call a school board member, an administrative superintendent, they’ll be in their face, to make sure they get what they want for their kids, these programs who these places where they said they’re going to eliminate programs altogether, they’re gonna have a fight on their hands from those parents, and those parents will win. And that’s really sad. They’re gonna win, but so they still won’t have addressed the issue of how we more fairly identify and recognize the gifts of children of color of black kids. How do we recognize and how do we serve them in our publicly funded schools? Is the public schools all kids who walk in the door should be served based upon what the needs are? Yeah, there are a bunch of bright black kids that go to Title One schools that in Title One you as you know, the schools with where the majority Other students are low income, there are a bunch of bright kids that go to those schools, whose teachers and whose principal sometimes want to advocate. But if they don’t have the resources, they can’t. And then there are teachers in those schools who say, they ain’t no gifted kids here. I had a teacher actually say that to me did my face in the title one school? I don’t know why you’re here. No, give the kids in this school. I don’t know why you’re here. And she meant that, in general, because she was in a title one school. And these kids come in once again, with all kinds of challenges. Because of the, you know, poverty, circumstances and the situation they have to live in and live under. They come in and this kind of a teacher exists everywhere, because again, they’re not looking for the sparks of intelligence. They’re not, they’re not looking for the creativity, they’re not even gonna teach, to bring bringing the creativity out in these kids, you got to stay on the lower level of Bloom’s taxonomy that never get this, you know, to synthesis and evaluation and create, you know, they’ll never get there. Because they don’t believe in these children. They don’t believe in them. So no, we’re not, you know, I will I will not ever say to anyone, and I have written about this, and I’m actually presenting about this at the National Association for gifted children conference coming up in November, I will never say that we should be eliminating gifted programs in order to create equity in our schools, what we should do is change the way that we identify students for gifted services, change the way teachers are trained, change the way we collaborate with families, and with those parents of those students, change the way we, you know, we do everything in the name of educating our brightest students, they are everywhere. You mentioned you fit around the world earlier, when you introduced me, I have been around the world with this message. people invite me to come in and talk about the giftedness in their communities. Here I am a black female going to the Middle East, talking to them about the giftedness in their communities, what are we doing to identify those poor gifted kids? And they want to know what the United States is doing because they want and these other countries, they want to make sure they develop the minds of all children, no matter where they come from. They’re looking for giftedness everywhere. And we’re not quite there yet. We’re not quite there. So we do have a lot of work to do.

Joy Lawson Davis  27:42

We can’t afford to support elimination of gifted programs. It just is two contradictory to what it is that we know about the human condition, there are people in every community who have ideas, and who have answers, we expose these kids to the, you know, scientific methods and models and some of the great work that’s going on at the university level. And in some of these STEM programs and all kinds of things, I just read an article the other day about a young lady who actually had an idea that ended up going to NASA around and that they use her idea for one of the rovers that was traveling around in space. And so a black girl, a young black girl, I read another article about a young black girl 15 years old, who’s about to become a grandmaster in chess, you know, so I spend my nights collecting these articles and sharing them and framing them, so that I can make sure that everybody understands that, that being black and gifted is nothing new. It’s nothing new. We just have to do a better job of finding these kids. That’s our responsibility. We have to find these kids. And we have to ensure that we give them access to opportunities. What it is, is about the difference in access or not having access and if they have access to opportunities, access to teachers who believe they have gifts, who believe in them, then there’s there’s some new things that are gonna happen, but absolutely not did you know I will not support it cannot support elimination of programming in the name of equity. There are some things that are going on in some areas around the use of test preparation that I have a problem with. Because that test prep this movement towards test prep to get into a gifted program is not what it ought to be. We should not be allowing individuals to sell test preparation services. Because when you when you attach the You know, attach $1 sign, what that means is you’re already creating a divide, those parents who can afford it will access it, their kids will have test prep, that kids naturally will score higher on the same tests that other kids have to take with no test prep, that doesn’t make any sense that we even allow that, that we even allow that. But it’s being allowed. That has been allowed for quite a while. So test prep, to get into gifted programs, it’s what should be disallowed. That’s this way, the difference should be that, that we should not allow that to happen in order for students to prove or demonstrate what their gifts are. There’s other kinds of strategies that have been really well researched, and have have have proven that we can do a better job, we can use universal screening so that students don’t get, you know, don’t get missed out on, we can use local norming, in some cases to make sure that we can provide for the best and brightest within a particular, you know, school district, there are lots of ways that we can do better, without eliminating program services altogether. It doesn’t sound, you know, good to people, there’s a lot of people who don’t even like to use the word gifted. There are lots of folks who don’t even like to use that term. So we do this is there’s a lot going on in the field, we have to band together and decide how we’re going to address and debate with those individuals who are suggesting to us that the way out of gifted services is in the way to eliminate inequity is to is to just eliminate programming, that that’s not gonna work. That’s not that it’s an insult. It’s an insult. Because I know, I know, children, poor children, poor black children, affluent black children who can’t get into programs, because of the way the program is set up. But I also know that some of those same kids are brilliant. They’re, they’re they’re bright, talented, and black and Young, Gifted and Black, or whatever we want to call them. But those kids are bright, they just need to have access, and we cannot shut closed programs down and then recreate that program into something else. That’s what’s going to happen.

Debbie Reber  32:25

Yeah, and dismantling in those programs, I was just gonna say, first of all, thank you for that. That answer. I had so many little questions pop up, as you’re say, as you’re responding to that, but it’s just such a fascinating, rich conversation. And you’re right, we could talk about this for hours. But dismantling those programs feels very lazy. Like this is just hard. We’re not we’re you know, we don’t want to do the work to really make these programs be equitable for for all students. So we’re just going to get rid of it. And as you said, the affluent, predominantly white families are going to find a way to get their children’s needs met. And I want to hear before we say goodbye about your upcoming book. But one last question on this knowing that, you know, the audience for this podcast is predominantly white parents, what role can white parents who are listening to this play in ensuring that gifted programs are inclusive and representative of black and brown children?

Joy Lawson Davis  33:19

Well, white parents can join us and be allies in this fight. But I just released an article with Dr. Donna Ford, one of our great leaders in this work and Gil Whiting and James Moore around going beyond lip service. So we have to have white parents who are willing to be allies, and to support equity, and gifted programs and support changes that will happen in their school districts. They have to be the ones also who come to meetings and speak out loud and you know, share, what, what what they believe to be more equitable ways of going, you know, of getting into to get black children to have the opportunity to, to be viewed and to be, you know, have opportunities to be admitted to gifted programs as well. So we need, why families as allies, like we need white educators and we’re seeing more of that happen. We’re seeing school districts across the country who are saying we’re going to change this because we believe in these kids, and we’re going to fight hard. We’re going to use our funds. We’re gonna use our professional development funds to bring people in to train us. We’re going to begin to purchase these great books that are out on the field now. We’re going to use these books as book studies to make sure our teachers understand and have a you know, have a deeper, deeper level of understanding and commitment. And we also, you know, in some cases will also have to clean house because there will be people who don’t believe in In Black giftedness that just just won’t believe in it. And we are still in some school distance when we know these people exist there, they need to find a job. And I can say this because I’m outside with this, you got, you know, I’m working as a consultant, I’m independent, they need to find a job doing something else. They, we cannot have people on our teams who are anti black. And they are. So we need the white teachers and white families, we need everybody to come to the fore to say, Okay, we’re going to work on this. And we’re gonna work on this together until we begin to see a difference in our programs and our school districts. And then we have something we can be proud of. And we can share with others around the nation. Yes, they can become allies, but it’s not going to be easy work, because they’re going to be criticized by their own people. You know, you know, we are such a racially divided nation. And what we’re seeing in education is an example of just how racially divided we are. And so yes, we do have a place for allies. And we want to make sure that those allies can come forward, they can join us as, as those civil rights organizations say, lock arms with us, and, and work with us until we see a difference in the way that gifted programs are being being operated and being you know, you know, consistently held up in school districts, but we have to have a different kind of a program and a different approach. And we need everybody to be a part of this process.

Debbie Reber  36:48

Yeah, thank you so much for that. And yeah, I mean, I feel like the conversation has changed a lot. And that there is, again, more momentum around this. And I think that’s no small part due to the work that you’re doing. And I love that you open this conversation by saying that this isn’t your reason for being here, you know, on this show, but this is really what you see as your reason for being and it’s just really inspiring. And, and I’m grateful that you’re doing this work, you know, you do have a new book coming out called Empowering Underrepresented Gifted Students, would you take just a few minutes and tell us about that?

Joy Lawson Davis  37:26

Yes, very excited. My colleague, Deb Douglas, and myself, were able to bring together a number of experts, scholar experts, and even students in the field to talk about how we we can do better with equity by ensuring that these students have are empowered that they have an opportunity to let educators know what their needs are, what their dreams are, what it is that they need in order to be successful. So we what we did was we went after we vet some of the great names in the field who are working specifically on these particular areas, African American students, Dr. Donna Ford and her some of her colleagues pulled together powerful chapter four for the twice exceptional Megan Foley Nipcon, she has a great chapter there we deal with the ESL population, and ELL population, excuse me, Latino population. So each of the population groups have an expert. In that chapter, those chapters, Dr. Jaime Castellano, and Dina Brulles, wrote chapters for us. But each of the chapters focus on a student or two, and how that student actually went through a process of becoming power, because they were taught, we’re taught and encouraged to self advocate, taught and encouraged to self advocate. So we use Deb Douglass’s self advocacy model. So I don’t want to go into too many details around that. But we also were fortunate enough to have a group of students to write a chapter, a group of students who my school for the gifted in Florida group of multicultural students, to write a chapter around self advocacy, advocacy for students, and you know, what it meant to them to be able to self advocate in a particular way. And we have a powerful chapter there of our parents. So we have there with myself and two other colleagues, Dr. Erinn Floyd, Erinn Floyd and Dr. Mayo, Dr. Shauna Mayo out of here out of Virginia, and we pulled together and we actually spoke to parents and parents gave us a feedback we have about I think 25 tips for self advocacy for parents of black and, and Latino students. So we’re very, very excited. I read about the potential that this book around empowerment, empowerment of these particular groups of students will have in the classroom and school programs across the country. We again, we, you know, we believe that if students are allowed to speak up, are given the tools they need to speak, and they have educators that listen, that listen to them, then we’ll be able to reshape the way we serve, who these these groups who are typically underrepresented in our school programs. So we’re again, very excited, very pleased to have been able to work with Deb and also all these great authors’ books are coming out very soon, just a few more days. And, you and educators can actually go online and pre-order if they like. It’s published by Free Spirit Press. And we’re very excited about that.

Debbie Reber  40:56

Yeah, of course. And actually, listeners, we’re recording this before the book is out. But it is out now as you’re listening to this. So definitely check that out. It’s empowering underrepresented gifted students, we’ll have a link in the show notes page. And also, Deb Douglas has been on the podcast before where we talked about her self advocacy work. And that’s episode 126. If people want to listen, I will also have a link in the show notes page. So before we say goodbye, anywhere else, that people can connect with you or anything you’d like to leave listeners with.

Joy Lawson Davis  41:28

Yeah, actually, we also just had a book released just a few weeks ago, with Matthew Fugate, Wendy Behrens, and Cecelia Boswell about culturally responsive teaching, and gifted education. So there you can share that with them as well. Again, what I said earlier that I fully believe in is that when teachers are trained appropriately with culturally responsive pedagogy, in gifted education, they can do a better job of meeting the needs of all of these students. And so again, please share with them Culturally Responsive Teaching, and Gifted Education. Matthew Fugate is the lead co editor. I’m fourth co editor on it, but we fully believe in the work that was done through that book as well. And I’m working hard they’re trying to get a third a second edition of Bright, Talented, and Black, my publisher is going to get real frantic with me If I don’t hurry up and get my draft to her. But I am excited that we are working on a second edition of Bright, Talented, and Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners. So that, yes, I’m busy, but it’s worthwhile. All of it is every bit of it.

Debbie Reber  42:50

Yeah. And it doesn’t sound like you are slowing down anytime soon. So that is awesome. Yes, listeners, please go to the show notes page, I will have a lot of resources in there. Any names that came up, articles in this conversation, you can find them on the show notes page. Joy, thank you so much. It is just such a pleasure to get to connect with you in this way. I saw you speak and saying, you know, years ago and have been just following your work for a long time. And I was just honored that you came by today. And thank you so much for sharing.

Joy Lawson Davis  43:20

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Debbie Reber  43:26

You’ve been listening to the Tilt Parenting Podcast. If you want to dig deeper into this episode, check out the show notes page. Every episode has a dedicated show notes page on my website where you can get links to all the resources we discussed, read a transcript and even easily go back and listen to key takeaways by using the chapters feature on the podcast player. To get to the show notes page. For this episode, just go to and select this show. If you love this podcast and want to help cover the costs of its production, please consider joining my Patreon campaign. For as little as $2 a month you can help cover the costs of the hosting platform for this show. My wonderful new editor and producer Andrea and more. It’s so easy to sign up. Just go to to learn more or click on the Patreon link on any show notes page. If you’re into social media, you can follow tilt parenting at tilt parenting on Instagram and Twitter. Visit the Tilt Parenting page on Facebook or join my Facebook community called Tilt Together. Lastly, please help this podcast stay visible and easily found by subscribing and leaving a rating or review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you so much. And that’s all for this week. Stay safe, stay well and take good care and for more information visit


Do you have an idea for an upcoming episode? Please share your idea in my Suggestion Box.