Hello everyone! Welcome to the Book Nook. Today we are going to be doing a review on Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum. Yes, I know. It’s a long title. This book is a non-fiction book about racism and the conversations that surround racism. I read this book because I am currently participating in a reading challenge and one of the challenges is to read a non-fiction book about anti-racism. This was one of the many books I have seen floating around on the subject and it had an interesting title so I decided to go for it. Before we get into it, I encourage you all to comment down below and tell me your thoughts. Also, make sure you are following the Book Nook on WordPress and Instagram (@thebooknook221) so you don’t miss any of my reviews in the future. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
As I said before, this book is about conversations and situations surrounding racism, so my review may be a little different from previous reviews. The last time I reviewed a book similar to this was Black Pain by Terrie Williams (review here). As a black woman this book was very relatable. When it came to talking about racism in the black community Tatum touched on colorism, systemic injustice, identity issues, etc. What I liked is that she mentioned how children don’t really see color at a young age until it’s brought up by society. She also mentioned how a lot of parents, specifically white parents, do more harm than good when they teach their children to be “color blind”. So basically, a lot of our perceptions about other races are taught and not innate. One thing I found interesting was Tatum’s use of “de-emphasizing blackness”; where black children will purposely distance themselves from things that are stereo-typically attributed to black culture. There was this one story she mentioned where a young man decided to participate in track and field instead of basketball (a stereotypical sport for black men) and when he did go out for track, it was distance running instead of sprinting. Unfortunately, he did still encountered racism. This is the sad and unfortunate truth for a lot of black people. They feel as though they need to distance themselves from certain aspects of black culture in order to appear “less threatening.” Even when you have “made it” (got a college degree, making six figures, living in a nice neighborhood, etc.) people are still going to see you as black first and judge accordingly. As I was reading, I was reminded of the Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed (review here) where the main character couldn’t really relate to the black experience because she didn’t live it. Her and her sister grew up in a predominately white neighborhood, she had white friends and she went to a white school. Ironically, she was also the only black kid who didn’t sit at the “black table.”
Another thing that Tatum mentioned that I found intriguing was the fact even as adults, black people will still sit together at a lunch table. It makes sense, however, especially if you are in a job that is predominately white. You want to be among people who can relate to you and understand your problems.
I did appreciate seeing great examples of white allies who support black individuals and who genuinely have an interest in understanding the lives of black people. I also appreciated Tatum talk about racism when it came to other people of color; Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinx, etc. The statistics and personal stories that were shared really opened my eyes to the plight of other minority groups.
I honestly can go on and on about what I learned from this book but this review would be entirely too long. It did take me…I want to say, 1.5-2 weeks to get through it. Mostly because I started reading another book but I am glad that I gave this book a try. I’m not going to give this book a traditional rating, however. I will just say that it was an eye-opener. There are so many books on anti-racism out there but I would recommend this one to read if anyone is interested.
Until next time!