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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?
Cover of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?
And Other Conversations About Race
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The classic, bestselling book on the psychology of racism—now fully revised and updated Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in...
The classic, bestselling book on the psychology of racism—now fully revised and updated Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in...
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  • The classic, bestselling book on the psychology of racism—now fully revised and updated
    Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.

    "An unusually sensitive work about the racial barriers that still divide us in so many areas of life."-Jonathan Kozol

About the Author-

  • Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD, is president emerita of Spelman College and in 2014 received the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology, the highest honor presented by the American Psychological Association. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 1, 1997
    A clinical psychologist and professor at Mount Holyoke College, Tatum (who is black) brings some worthwhile perspectives--developmental psychology and racial identity development theory--to issues of race. Thus, she observes that, when asked for self-definition, whites take their race for granted, while students of color do not. She notes that adults don't know how to respond when children make race-related observations, such as confusing dark skin with dirt. Answering the book's title question, she explains that black students, in late adolescence and early adulthood, are first grappling with "what it means to be a group targeted by racism," and thus seek solidarity in an "oppositional identity." Such solidarity often remains necessary, even in corporate settings. She observes credibly in her chapter on affirmative action that the "less-qualified" person is usually seen as black, not a white woman, and suggests that whites are more likely to favor their own in cases when the minority applicant is equally qualified. However, she argues that only poorly implemented affirmative action programs promote the unqualified; her treatment of this issue is too pat, as is her treatment of affirmative action in academic admissions. Tatum recommends all-white support groups to work through feelings of guilt and shame regarding racism. She also calls for more dialogue about race; such dialogue, however, would likely have to include such touchy subjects as questions of race and crime in order to be fruitful. Author tour.

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 1997
    In straightforward language, professor/ psychologist Tatum explains the development of racial identity. To illustrate her point she uses anecdotes about her sons, excerpts from research interviews, and essays written by her students.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 1998
    YA-Situations perceived as a social segregation are frequently observed at the middle school, high school, and university levels. Here, a look at the school scene leads into a deeper study of racial relations. With a combination of anecdotal material, anthropological data, and psychological insight, Tatum examines the development of racial identity. In balanced sections, she considers understanding blackness in a white context and the development of a white identity itself. There is also an examination of critical issues in Latino, American Indian, and Asian-Pacific American identity development. About a fifth of the book consists of resources, notes, and annotated bibliographies that include videos. All materials are current. A list of multicultural books for children is grade differentiated. Tatum advocates affirmation of whatever race one may be, recognition of injustice, and resolution to resist unfair privilege.-Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

  • Booklist

    September 1, 1997
    %% This is a multi-book review: SEE also the title "Reaching beyond Race." %% The national conversation on race continues."The unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today," University of Illinois, Chicago philosophy professor Mills maintains, is "white supremacy; "the notion of a Racial Contract . . . "[is] more revealing of the real character of the world we are living in, and the corresponding historical deficiencies of its normative theories and practices, than the raceless notions currently dominant in political theory." Inspired in part by Carole Pateman's "Sexual Contract," which brought unstated gender assumptions within traditional social-contract theory into the open, Mills examines the Racial Contract and the exploitation at the center of its economics; traces how this contract "races (and norms)" space and the individual and demands violence and ideological conditioning for enforcement; and examines behaviors of whites and nonwhites over several centuries in terms of this contract. Demanding but worth the effort.Far less theoretical are Powell's "reflections" on family, neighborhood, sex, love, rap, relationships, and racism. Poet and essayist Powell (a cast member on the first season of MTV's "Real World") stresses change: "Over the course of the last decade I've been a flag-waving patriot, a Christian, an atheist, a Muslim, a student leader, a homeless person, a pauper, a loner, a social worker, a poet, a misogynist, an English instructor, an MTV star, ' a full-time journalist, an egomaniac, a manic-depressive, a bully, a punk, an optimist, a pessimist, and most of all, someone who is always trying to find and tell the truth as I see it." Older readers will sometimes want to say "Yes, but . . . "but Powell's lucid essays give abstract social and cultural issues a human face.If promoted effectively, Sniderman and Carmines' study should stimulate controversy--about the authors' techniques as well as their findings. "Reaching beyond Race" is based on polling data with a difference: the polls incorporate "experiments" (often variations in question phrasing) designed to get closer to what pollees "really" think about race and social programs. Affirmative action is a central issue here: preferences are polarizing, even (or especially!) among liberals, because most people's sense of fairness includes meritocratic assumptions, but a biracial coalition could significantly improve underclass Americans' lives if it appealed, race-neutrally, for help for those in need. In the end, Sniderman and Carmines' goal is effective political action based on the public attitudes their polls reveal; they do not address the accuracy of their subjects' perceptions (e.g., on meritocracy).Mount Holyoke College psychology professor Tatum has specialized (in college courses, seminars around the country--particularly for teachers and parents--research, and her own practice) in applying the insights of racial identity development theory. Using David Wellman's definition of racism as "a system of advantage based on race," Tatum explains that, in a society where domination and subordination are linked to "otherness," subordinate-group identities are often most significant to children as they grow up, while dominant-group identities are invisible, or simply defined as "normal." Particularly useful in tracing different developmental tasks African Americans take on in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and in considering identity development issues for other people of color in the U.S. and for children in multiracial families. ((Reviewed Sept. 1, 1997))(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 1997, American Library Association.)

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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?
And Other Conversations About Race
Beverly Daniel Tatum
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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?
And Other Conversations About Race
Beverly Daniel Tatum
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