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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race

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 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.

Tatum, a developmental psychologist 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.

“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” is a 1997 book by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D. (New York, NY: Basic Books).

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