Book Report: Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria

Let’s talk about race. Let’s talk about race as a public health issue.

Right now, let’s talk about it via the 1997 book Why are all the Black Kits Sitting Together in the Cafeteria.

My interest in social justice extends to and includes an interest in race and racism. So, when this book was recommended to me, I picked it up right away.

It’s been 20+ years since this book was written and, aside from the absence of technology in the cafeteria, it reads as if it could have been written yesterday.

The author, Beverly Daniel Tatum, recently published an updated version which I am eager to read (anyone out there read it already?).

Tatum initially wrote the book with an eye towards helping parents and teachers as they grapple with race and identity in their children and students. She wanted to arm the adults with the information and guidance that they’d need to help the kids disrupt racism.

With that audience in mind, Tatum walks the readers through the development of identity from pre-school through adulthood. And this nerd is grateful that her assertions are backed up with research (if you’ve read this blog, you know that I hate baseless claims that make their ways into books!).

Tatum outlines the exposure we have to language, imagery, and behavior that teaches prejudice and contributes to the racism that swirls around all of us. Her argument, which I whole heartedly agree with, is that we have to break down the systemic racism and the obvious differences in housing, schooling, opportunities that are afforded based on our race.

The book is a call to action to have these tough conversations with people like you and people who are different than you. And with this book in your back pocket, you will be ready for these spontaneous conversations that come up.

If you’d like the Cliff Notes version, Dr. Tatum gave a talk at TedEx in 2017. It is worth a watch!

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