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

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Most antiracist books focus on the political and sociological aspects of racism, both of which are highly important. But in this book, Tatum examines the psychology of racism and its effects on both Black and white people, particularly young ones. She explains when and how awareness of race forms, which is earlier than many parents think. While many parents choose to ignore race altogether in the hopes that their kids will learn to be “color blind,” Tatum shows how race seeps into children’s subconscious anyway, and how refusing to talk about it creates children unable to understand or deal with the consequences of racism.


Nonfiction, psychology, social justice


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.


The book largely focuses only on Black and white people, but does have a large section devoted to other races. This isn’t a book to teach you about that racism is. Its audience is expected to already understand much of this discourse. This is for people who want to delve deeper into how racism affects us as individuals, and manifests in children.

White people very often feel embarrassed of their racial identity, and many claim to not have one, since it’s viewed as the default. This book explores how white people can form a positive racial identity and learn from other white people devoted to antiracism.

It was fascinating to me. I didn’t know the extent to which children notice race, and the true harm of refusing to engage with them about it. It’s a great book not only for parents and educators, but for others who still subconsciously hold the uncomfortable fear of talking about and confronting race.

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