Review of “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”: A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity

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Author: Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

Rating: 3.5/5 

Format: Audiobook

This book was originally published in 1997 but the author did an update in 2017 because, unfortunately, the issues she addressed in the original book are still relevant today. I do think the title is a bit misleading because the question of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” is really only addressed for a small portion of the book. It’s really a collection of discussions on race that I found incredibly thought-provoking.

I think everyone can learn something from this book. There are discussions on the Complexity of Identity (Part I, Section 2) and Identity Development in Multiracial Families (Part IV, Section 9) that personally taught me a lot that I didn’t know.

The author dedicates Part III to discussing White Identity in a White Context which I really loved. Of course, I don’t think that a person of color writing a book about race has any obligation to spend time focusing on me or helping me. However, I so appreciate that this author did so. It helped put a lot of my own feelings into context and I hope it will help me to be more race conscious in the future.

I think this would have been a much better read not on audio, which is rare for me with nonfiction books. The author narrates and I loved her voice but I think the material is better suited to being read in physical or ebook format. There were long quotes from other people so, if I paused during the quote, sometimes I would think she was talking about herself when I turned it back on. I mostly listen to audiobooks in the car and when I get to my destination I often have no choice but to pause right then. So, I was left a little lost and with an audiobook you can’t just glance at the last couple pages to reorient yourself.

Overall, it was a very informative read and I think I should buy a physical copy to have on hand to reference in the future. You should buy yourself a copy too!

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