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MIT Reads: Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: Home

For MIT Reads' Spring 2019 selection, the 20th anniversary edition of Beverly Daniel Tatum's classic Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Let's Talk About Race

“For many people of color, learning to break the silence is a survival issue. To remain silent would be to disconnect from her own experience, to swallow and internalize her own oppression. The cost of silence is too high.”

-Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Through straightforward research and examples, Dr. Tatum explores the socio-psychological reverberations of racism in America. She implores us to assess ourselves, become actively anti-racist in our actions, and overcome stigma and embarrassment to begin conversations about race early and cultivate paths to understanding and change. In Dr. Tatum's framework, she wills us "to help others move beyond fear, beyond anger, beyond denial to a new understanding of what racism is, how it impacts all of us, and ultimately what we can do about it." Join MIT Reads in discussing this evocative and ever-relevant book.

Discussion Prompts

  • Why did we need a new edition of Dr. Tatum's book?
  • How has U.S. society changed since the original edition was published in 1997? 
  • What is "the cost of silence" referred to in the quote above?
  • What do you think is the goal of the book's title?

Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? book cover