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Book Review | Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Is there racism in Concord and Carlisle?

Yes – based on the definition that racism is a system of advantage based on race, as put forward by Beverly Daniel Tatum in her book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Daniel Tatum explains that “In the context of the United States, this system clearly operates to the advantage of Whites and to the disadvantage of people of color…. every social indicator, from salary to life expectancy, reveals the advantages of being White.” For White people to begin to acknowledge the advantages they take for granted, Tatum believes, is a step toward understanding the viewpoints of people of color.

So, why do Boston Black kids sit together in the CCHS school cafeteria? Daniel Tatum describes affinity groups, the need to feel safe with friends with whom one has something in common, and the fact that the question should be “Why are all the White kids sitting together?” to reflect their majority. Students of color interact with White students and adults all day, and the cafeteria is where they can mix with peers from their neighborhoods, at an age where shaping one’s identity is key. It’s where they can let down their guards and relax, as White students do – and this is a good thing.

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The Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council is a community organization of volunteers working together to foster respect, understanding, good will, and conciliation among individuals and groups in the community. It is dedicated to the belief that all people are entitled to dignity and respect. The role of the Human Rights Council is one of education and advocacy.

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