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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race [International Edition] [Paperback]

by Beverly Daniel Tatum
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 17, 2003 0465083617 978-0465083619 5th Anniv., Revised
Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see black youth seated together in the cafeteria. Of course, it's not just the black kids sitting together-the white, Latino, Asian Pacific, and, in some regions, American Indian youth are clustered in their own groups, too. The same phenomenon can be observed in college dining halls, faculty lounges, and corporate cafeterias. What is going on here? Is this self-segregation a problem we should try to fix, or a coping strategy we should support? How can we get past our reluctance to talk about racial issues to even discuss it? And what about all the other questions we and our children have about race? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, asserts that we do not know how to talk about our racial differences: Whites are afraid of using the wrong words and being perceived as "racist" while parents of color are afraid of exposing their children to painful racial realities too soon. Using real-life examples and the latest research, Tatum presents strong evidence that straight talk about our racial identities-whatever they may be-is essential if we are serious about facilitating communication across racial and ethnic divides. We have waited far too long to begin our conversations about race. This remarkable book, infused with great wisdom and humanity, has already helped hundreds of thousands of readers figure out where to start.

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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race + A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America + The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Anyone who's been to a high school or college has noted how students of the same race seem to stick together. Beverly Daniel Tatum has noticed it too, and she doesn't think it's so bad. As she explains in this provocative, though not-altogether-convincing book, these students are in the process of establishing and affirming their racial identity. As Tatum sees it, blacks must secure a racial identity free of negative stereotypes. The challenge to whites, on which she expounds, is to give up the privilege that their skin color affords and to work actively to combat injustice in society. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

This insightful exploration of the varieties of Americans' experience with race and racism in everyday life would be an excellent starting point for the upcoming national conversations on race that President Clinton and his appointed commission will be conducting this fall. Tatum, a developmental psychologist (Mt. Holyoke Coll.) with a special interest in the emerging field of racial-identity development, is a consultant to school systems and community groups on teaching and learning in a multicultural context. Not only has she studied the distinctive social dynamics faced by black youth educated in predominantly white environments, but since 1980, Tatum has developed a course on the psychology of racism and taught it in a variety of university settings. She is also a black woman and a concerned mother of two, and she draws on all these experiences and bases of knowledge to write a remarkably jargon-free book that is as rigorously analytical as it is refreshingly practical and drives its points home with a range of telling anecdotes. Tatum illuminates ``why talking about racism is so hard'' and what we can do to make it easier, leaving her readers more confident about facing the difficult terrain on the road to a genuinely color-blind society. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 5th Anniv., Revised edition (January 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465083617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465083619
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Examine where you stand, even if you disagree January 3, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As you review all the "reviews" thus far written, you get a sense that Dr. Tatum's book has gotten people thinking and taking stands. I appreciate the straightforwardness with which Tatum introduces her subject -- racism. Sure, we can disagree with her definitions and use of rhetorics. But she made the definition clear and prominent enough so that we can disagree. It is hard to measure oneself by a wishy-washy yard-stick. Tatum provided a solid yard stick by which you may examine your own stance, assumptions, and conclusions. In reading the reviews, especially the critical ones, it struck me that even those who strongly diagreed with Tatum understood her basic premises and her arguments. It is upon that understanding that we can disagree. I applaud the author for clearly laying out her arguments on a controversial issue.

The main strength of the book, to me, is in fact the redefinition of racism. You don't have to agree with it, but you do now need to examine whether a "system of advantage" exists and if it does, whether it should be included in the definition of racism. I am neither white nor black, so I cannot speak of black/white issues in first-person. But I come from a family with four generations of academics. The sytem of school, academia, and education benefits me greatly, and I suit the system particularly through by upbringing. By analogy, I am open to the idea that past explicit systems of racial inequality do not lose its effect in a mere generation or two, especially for the black race. Through my reading, I am questioning and examining my own assumptions as well as that of the author's. To that extent, I think the book is doing its most important job -- make you think.

The weakest point of the book is also in relation to the definition.
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112 of 142 people found the following review helpful
Dr. Tatum explains beautifully many previously undiscussed aspects of race relations in America. But she also goes beyond what IS to explain WHY it is. Her explaination of how each of us develop our own sense of racial and ethnic 'self' provides great food for thought. Tatum's background, area of expertise, experience and sensitivity combine to make her the perfect author of such a work. She gave me insight into my own long-held feelings of guilt about being a benificiary of white priviledge. Particularly poignant were stories of how she discussed racial issues with her own children as they were growing. Every chapter so intrigued me that I would like to read an entire book dedicated to each of the topics.
In a perfect world, this book would be required reading for all Americans and should be assigned to every high school student in this country. I don't remember the last time I was as moved by a book and I can't wait for her next one! Thank you, thank you, thank you Dr. Tatum! Each of us who is ready to take a look inside ourselves and be completely honest about our own biases needs to read this book! It will make us better Americans, better humans and better friends.
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91 of 115 people found the following review helpful
By Monika
Not until recently have I, as a 20-year-old white American college student, really become aware of the extent of my own white privilege and what it means to be white in America today. Even the fact that I was able to go for so long without recognizing the significance of race in my life is a manifestation of my white privilege. Children of color, however, are generally confronted by the fact of their race at a much earlier age. Their process of identity development differs significantly from that of most white children. This is the issue psychologist Beverly Tatum discusses in her book. She opens with the question that forms the book's title: "Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?" It is common to see high school students self-segregate, socializing in groups composed mostly of others of the same racial background. But why is this?

Because Tatum herself is a black woman, she predominantly addresses the identity development of black individuals. She cites psychologist William Cross in describing the stages of development: pre-encounter, when young children simply absorb the messages they receive from those around them, not yet having reason to question them; encounter, when an individual first becomes aware of racism through some "event or series of events that force the young person to acknowledge [its] personal impact" (55); immersion/emersion, when the individual works actively to learn about and affirm their own racial identity; and internalization/commitment, when the individual has established a positive personal identity for him/herself. Throughout, Tatum offers explanations for the behaviors many black adolescents may engage in which may puzzle their white counterparts, including the reason for student self-segregation along racial lines.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital handbook for our country March 14, 2000
This book ended up being both informative and intersting, a set of adjectives which frequently do not walk together.
However, Dr. Tatum has masterfully tackled a controversial topic, explained it in a perfect blend of academic and common-sense language, and put forth a pro-active plan for thinking which is innovative and exciting.
This book starts us from the beginning by deconstructing the very ideas of "white" and "black," and by discussing the terminology itself. From there, she begins to talk about social models of behavior and more complex ideas, but she never loses the "essential" nature of her subject.
Dr. Tatum's book is perfect for anyone who ever plans to have children or who works with them, because it deals with the effects that race relations have on kids. This under-studied field is, in my opinion, one of the most important because it is children who are harmed the most by polarized race relationships. Dr. Tatum discusses tools for dealing with children throughout the book, citing practical examples and giving the reader a place to go from the last page of the book into real life application.
Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Vital reading to understand raacism
This is ideal for doing a project on racism and similar ethnic problems, full of great quotes you can use to explain what happend in the real world.
Published 1 month ago by Andy Gudgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars YAY books!
I'm a college student and finding a book I wanted (outside of my books for class) is great. The book is in good condition, inexpensive, and arrived on time.
Published 2 months ago by Ivana Cuevas
1.0 out of 5 stars Way over on the left of lala land
I neither liked nor enjoyed this title which was crammed down my throat by a radical left winged pro feminist and gay marriage advocate. Read more
Published 3 months ago by James
5.0 out of 5 stars book review
My granddaughter chose the book for her book report and said she really enjoyed it. Said she could relate to it.
Published 3 months ago by Patricia Biscoe
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear understanding of what it's like to be a person of color in...
Tatum clearly explains the process of self-awareness that youth of color go through as they assimilate into the wider society. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Colleen E. Cunningham
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Great Great Book!!!!!
Man, I truly loved this book. The title does not do the content Dr. Tatum has so painstakingly gathered justice. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read
This is a question anyone working secondary schools in diverse neighborhoods has asked. This book delves deeply into the concept of personal identity and its impact on young... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jonathan Brown
1.0 out of 5 stars Another "Blame Whitey" tome.
Tatum addresses the condition of difference in a most puerile form of censure by explaining normative clustering as a divergence from the norm. Read more
Published 6 months ago by C. Montera
1.0 out of 5 stars Required racist reading.
This book is offensively racist against white people! Its ridiculous! Its filth like this that keeps America divided. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ronald D. Bruner Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Insightful and Eye Opening
I purchased this book after taking a master's level cultural diversity class. The book covered most of the same material as the text for the class. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Heidi Stanfield
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