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Educational Inequalities in American Schools


Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race” is crucial to understanding the educational disparities in American schools. This Tatum’s book has a total of 464 pages. The Basic Books published it as a revised edition on September 5, 2017. Tatum, the book’s author, is Spelman College’s emeritus president. She won the Prize for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology in 2014. Tatum is an Atlanta, Georgia, resident.

When entering any high school with a mixed-race student body, Tatum argues that white, black, and Latino students find themselves gathered in their respective groups. Her main purpose is to look into the causes of this behavior. She tries to figure out how to overcome the unwillingness to discuss racial issues as a result. Most importantly, Tatum contends that if people are serious about bridging ethnic and racial barriers and practicing antiracism, they must be open and honest about their racial identities. The issues’ urgency has only increased as the national dialogue on race has gotten more divisive.

Content Summary

Some of the EDLA-2000 topics have addressed issues of inequality, including racism, identity, segregation, and incarceration. In the same way, Tatum maintains that racial identification continues to be significant because of racism. While acknowledging that anti-Blackness is the United States’ racial legacy’s root, there is a beneficial and welcome expansion of the topic beyond the black/white racial binary and an updating of the language used to refer to these groups (Tatum, 2017, p. 77-79). Tatum also mentions the modifications from the past editions in the Prologue. She writes the Introduction from the psychologist’s viewpoint.

The first three chapters are substantially the same. Still, new citations have been included to reflect the literature’s expansion and the injustices’ suppression related to some of the EDLA-2000 subjects discussed in class. Chapter 1 specifically discusses Tatum’s definition of racism. Chapter 2 provides more information on her identity development hypothesis. Chapter 3 also describes how Black children establish their racial identities. Tatum writes chapters 4 through 9 to fully address the issues of black youth and adulthood, the emergence of white racial identity, and other mono- and multi-racial non-black people of color. Also, chapter 10 discusses interracial communication.

Tatum also examines the EDLA-2000 topic of identity similarly. The identity topic involved examining a person’s or a group’s characteristics. These traits include beliefs, expressions, qualities, and appearance. In the same way, Tatum offers a psychological framework that acknowledges the influence of others on one’s sense of self. She asserts that maturation, biology, and societal expectations contribute to identity development (97-103). Tatum’s analysis of racial identity complexity corresponds with existing EDLA-2000 topics on the function of dominance and the interaction of various identities. Throughout the book, Tatum keeps an optimistic attitude regarding the value and necessity for an open, honest conversation on race and racism.

Evaluation and Conclusion

Tatum’s book is often quite enlightening and instructive. Everyone would find it useful in addressing the problems of educational inequality, both globally and in American schools. There are many different social and health issues that inequality can contribute to in today’s society. Poor educational achievement, decreased social mobility, increased violence, and mental illness can all result in a shorter life expectancy and a higher infant mortality rate. The book’s organization into distinct chapters and simple language make it user-friendly. Tatum’s increased affirmative action consideration, non-Black People of Color, and the sociocultural backdrop in the United States over the past two decades are reflected in the book.

Using prologues to launch her investigation and give strategies for getting past the reluctance to tackle racial issues, Tatum seems to provide extensive information that focuses on the importance of resolving social imbalances within the American educational system. An inquiry from a white person during a lecture served as the book’s inspiration, briefly stated in the initial Introduction. She supports her arguments by appropriately providing a complete sociocultural setting picture during the preceding 20 years.

Some of the book’s strengths include its ability to make the reader smarter. People who read the book will comprehend the issue of inequality, particularly in education, and some potential solutions. However, one major weakness is that it is tiring to read the whole book due to its many pages. Luckily, I did not find parts of the book that appeared vague to me.


Tatum, Beverly Daniel. “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”: And Other Conversations about Race. New York: Basic Books, 2017.


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