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


A fascinating look at racial identity development. Looks at a multitude of races – Black, White, Asian, Native American, Hispanic and Biracial identity.  There’s also discussion of the racial identity of Black children adopted by White parents. Examines the need for same race peer groups and mentors as well as looking at race at each age and developmental stage. This is a thorough examination of racial identity formation.



The title of this book first caught my attention several years ago. As an elementary school teacher, I noticed this phenomenon with our older students but not usually the younger ones, and I did wonder what that was about. I wish I had read this book at the time because it would have enlightened me and changed my attitude about my observations.

This was fascinating and challenging reading. I loved the psychological aspect of this discussion of race. I had set a goal to read a book about race this year. This one was a perfect fit for me with the psychological pieces and the educational angle.

I think this is a great resource for a lot of people – teachers, school administrators, parents, professionals who work with kids, and anyone interested in improved relationships between people of different races.

The developmental pieces – how kids process race as preschoolers versus adolescents – are fascinating. And the book challenges the idea that it’s best to not mention race to kids so they won’t notice it. They already notice it! Our silence doesn’t help them process their observations in a healthy, and accepting way.

This book challenged me. It challenged my assumptions. I read things and felt myself start to get defensive. I was reading things slowly enough, though, that I noticed it and could stop and check myself and look at what preconceived notions were being challenged. This is not a book to be read quickly if you are reading it to learn and to grow in your own racial identity and in your understanding of the racial identity development of others. It’s also a very dense book. I don’t know that you could read it quickly and get much out of it. This is a book to be studied rather that a quick cover-to-cover kind of read.

I highly recommend this. This would be a terrific resource for teachers to read and discuss together. It would also be a great summer read for teachers doing professional development. There’s an extensive resource list and notes in the back matter that offer more information and other resources to investigate.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

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