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paigeawesome

paigeawesome

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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
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"Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity - Beverly Daniel Tatum I'm giving this one five stars, mostly because I think just about everyone should read it.

I was already familiar with many of the concepts and ideas put forth in this book (thanks, Tumblr), so I'm not sure how it would come across to people running into these issues for the very first time. I found Beverly Daniel Tatum's tone to be straightforward, friendly, and sensitive. The book was smoothly written, she doesn't often get bogged down, and she covers a lot of ground. I learned some new stuff, and she lists resources where you can learn even more. I love "further reading," "recommended reading," and "resource" sections of books.

I can offer a couple criticisms/critiques. First, I don't know how helpful the development stage models were. I've already forgotten them. When I took a group discussion class, there were stage models to memorize and although I see that they do have some kind of limited use, I just didn't see a lot of value in learning about them. To the author's credit, they are not really a sticking point in the book. They are unobtrusive and even when she is illustrating them with examples and case studies, the "stage model" factor kind of melts into the background. Minor quibble. Second, although she cites a lot of sources, and although anyone with the awareness can see racism in mainstream American culture, one thing she could have done in the very beginning is drop some solid data on readers, a) for clarity's sake, and b) so people can't claim that "racism is over, these are just anecdotes." It would just make it a more solid argument to lead with that information. In the epilogue, which was written after the book was first published, she does mention where one can find the "statistical evidence," but I still think a better place for it is in the very front of the book.

I think one of this book's big strengths, though, is that a lot of (white) people will be able to read this book without feeling too triggered or defensive. When I was first introduced to some of these concepts, it was a rough ride, because unlike Ms. Tatum, not everyone is willing to hold your hand through it (and understandably so). I think when most white people see the anger of POCs, they feel threatened and as a result just disengage and become disconnected. But because this book isn't angry and is actually quite sensitive to white feelings, it shouldn't have that problem. It's accessible, interesting, and engaging. And I found it to be insightful and accurate.