Fighting to be
What it means to be labeled as a
Gifted a Student in America
was a Buffalo Soldier in the heart of America,
from Africa, brought to America
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival
-Robert Nesta Marley 1980
was labeled in the womb as “at risk”. My wife and I were
advised by (well meaning) staff members at John Hopkins
Hospital of our “options” and if we were capable of making
the social or financial commitment to the issue we were
facing. We, a young black couple, were introduced to
(bombarded with) mountains of statistics linking low birth
weight babies and the higher risk of infant mortality among
African Americans. Laid before us was a deluge of factoids
of survival rates of premature birthed babies (Preemies),
and a host of post birth complications. Our decision was
easy…we wanted our child.
“Preemie” was born weighing in at a bolstering 1040 grams
(2.76 lbs.) well below the "predictor label" of 2,500 grams,
or 5.5 pounds, indicating the chances that our newborn will
not graduate high school on time, or more then likely he
later would be enrolled in special education or classified
as learning disabled.
labeled our son Ngozi (from the Igbo tribe in Africa meaning
blessing). A preemptive life plan was devised to
battle any labels of ignorance. With never a doubt in my
mind that he was gifted, the challenge would be making the
world see what I knew. Every school year without fail and
to no avail, I lobbied his school officials to place him in
their gifted programs.
years later he stands just shy of 6 feet tall, 170 lbs.
never had a health problem, no behavior problem, and no
mental (other than just being a teen age boy) problem.
With a 3.59 GPA, 2 year starting high school quarterback,
national track and field competitor, fluent in Spanish,
business owner, named teen entrepreneur of the year,
National Honor Society this, and National Honor that…but
never…ever…labeled challenged. Upon his entrance into high
school we received a letter from his school district
congratulating us on our son being identified as one of
their “gifted students”. Most days I just smile to
myself and ask….what took you so long!