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

We have all asked this question. You may have asked it out loud or just inside your head, but the questions of racial identity are still around. Though it has been over a hundred and fifty years since the Civil War and over a half century since the Civil Rights movement, we still live in a socially segregated country. 

The first early interactions children have with ethnically diverse populations are impersonal and superficial, usually originating from visual media. This confusion continues into their school years. They struggle understanding the differences between them and their friends. Many white parents, who have grown up avoiding racial confrontations thus evading racial development, try to sweep these issues under rug instead of helping their understand the race in our society. 

Beverly Daniel Tatum does an amazing job taking us through the steps of racial identity development. From the first days of preschool through adulthood, we all have questions. Over time the questions may change slightly, but we all seeking who we are and our lives interact.

I am glad I read this book after my college days; I definitely do not think I was ready back then to grasp the words of Dr. Tatum. Racism is still a huge part of our society, even 15 years later after this book was published. Yes, a lot has changed: the 9/11 attacks made us painfully aware of our vulnerability, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has changed our image around the world, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice served as the Secretary of State, and Barack Obama is our President, but racism is still the reality of our society. However, a quick scan of our country’s wealth, politics, media, prisons, education system, and so forth will give anyone enough evidence to see that racism and discrimination are not only present in our society but it is the fuel on which society runs. 

Anyone interested in understand the core of racial identity development will benefit from reading this book. “To find one’s racial or ethnic identity, one must deal with negative stereotypes, resist internalizing negative self-perceptions, and affirm the meaning of ethnicity for oneself.”