The classic, bestselling book on the psychology of racism -- now fully revised and updated
Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.
A clinical psychologist and professor at Mount Holyoke College, Tatum (who is black) brings some worthwhile perspectives--developmental psychology and racial identity development theory--to issues of race. Thus, she observes that, when asked for self-definition, whites take their race for granted, while students of color do not. She notes that adults don't know how to respond when children make race-related observations, such as confusing dark skin with dirt. Answering the book's title question, she explains that black students, in late adolescence and early adulthood, are first grappling with "what it means to be a group targeted by racism," and thus seek solidarity in an "oppositional identity." Such solidarity often remains necessary, even in corporate settings. She observes credibly in her chapter on affirmative action that the "less-qualified" person is usually seen as black, not a white woman, and suggests that whites are more likely to favor their own in cases when the minority applicant is equally qualified. However, she argues that only poorly implemented affirmative action programs promote the unqualified; her treatment of this issue is too pat, as is her treatment of affirmative action in academic admissions. Tatum recommends all-white support groups to work through feelings of guilt and shame regarding racism. She also calls for more dialogue about race; such dialogue, however, would likely have to include such touchy subjects as questions of race and crime in order to be fruitful. Author tour.
Customer ReviewsSee All