Friday, September 21, 2007

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

"Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity
by Beverly Daniel Tatum strives to encourage dialogue about racism. It certainly succeeded with me. I found myself quoting from the book and discussing with my husband many of the ideas that left me confused, intrigued, or saddened.

Beverly Daniel Tatum starts out with her definition of racism. She believes that racism is a "system of advantage based on race" and racism is "more than individual beliefs and attitudes". This puts her in direct conflict with many others who include the presence of prejudice in their definition. Her point of view was valuable to me because it helped me see the power of white privilege and the role of white privilege in our world.

I found her section on black identity helpful. She included several stories of young children expressing their opinions on color. Her own child was asked by a playmate if he was brown because he drank chocolate milk. While this story caused me to smile, it also illustrated the natural curiosity of children and the awareness of differences; the need to catalog those differences. Discussion should not be stifled. Difference is not bad. It just is. Kids should feel free to observe and share.

The author is a professor and has taught classes on racism. She frequently shares stories from those classes and her broad experience shows in her writing. I'm not ready to embrace her stand on affirmative action and I question some of her conclusions. However, I would recommend this book to all. Not just those who have an interest in racial injustice. We all need to understand the impact racism has on our culture and be willing to learn from each other.

1 comment:

Troy & Tara Livesay said...

Hi -
I am going to buy this book ... and link to your post if that is okay.