Jarrod Jenkins's Reviews > "Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity

"Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum
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Feb 14, 10

bookshelves: nonfiction
Read in December, 2009

Completely awful. Tatum's book is thinly disguised racist propaganda devoid of actual statistics or legitimate quantification of the state of race relations in modern America. Worse than that, it does great harm to the ongoing struggle of race relations by crying wolf, mucking up the lines of communication, and creating resentment where none would otherwise exist.

Because she won't or can't point to empirical evidence of racism such as earnings per unit of time worked when adjusted for education, Tatum must fall back on anecdotes that are supposedly damning. Two examples will suffice.

First, she asked a white college girl what her ethnicity was, to which the girl responded, "I don't know, normal." Admittedly, it's sort of an awkward answer, but it comes from a young woman put on the spot to answer an awkward question. Tatum takes this short, impromptu answer and runs with it. She decides that this one girl represents what "all white people think," that white = normal. Our entire society conforms to white thought patterns, values, language, etc. White people don't have to confront their racial identities, Tatum says, because society will automatically conform to and provide advantages for them for the duration of their lives. White people are born into a world of privilege where opportunities are handed to them on a silver platter and hardly any effort is required. Whatever they think and whoever they are is normal. Minorities, by contrast, must constantly confront their racial identity because behind every shadow lurks white prejudice and hatred just waiting for a chance to destroy their valiant efforts. All this deduced from one teenage girl's three-second response.

Second, Tatum points to a supposed pervasive racism in the mass media. The example she cites? The Disney movie The Lion King. You see, the hyena trio of Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed are portrayed as evil and stupid. And the voices of those characters are provided by Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jim Cummings. And, of course, Whoopi Goldberg is black while Cheech Marin is Latino. (Jim Cummings is white, but that doesn't fit the narrative, so we'll ignore it.) So, Tatum says, the voices of some of the evil characters in a Disney animated movie are provided by minorities. Additionally, the noble characters like Mufasa and Simba are drawn in lighter shades of brown than the evil characters like Scar, who has a black mane. Voila, racism. I sincerely wish I was kidding. Let's just take this "argument" apart as briefly as possible.

1. It's an animated movie. Adults rarely know who does the voices, and virtually no children will be aware of who is doing the voices. In the mind of a child, the cartoons have their own voices. No one is thinking about the skin color of the person providing the voice, which can't be seen because it's a cartoon, let alone the underlying social and racial strife that such a person's skin color may represent.
2. Even on her own facts this example completely fails. Why? Because the most noble and honorable character in the entire film, Mufasa, is voiced by James Earl Jones, a black man! And the most evil character in the film, the villain Scar, is voiced by Jeremy Irons, a white man! If anything, this would be a case of the media portraying blacks as noble and whites as villainous. But again, it's an animated movie and nobody but Tatum would try to read racial animosity into the film.
3. What would happen if the voices of the hyenas were supplied by white people? That would leave James Earl Jones, Niketa Calame, and Robert Guillame as the few remaining characters voiced by black people. Would Tatum then be outraged that this film set in Africa was voiced by so many whiteys? Thus, one of the biggest problems with Tatum is revealed: you lose no matter what you do. You can try with all sincerity to be aware of your own prejudice and work against any you may have but still fail and be condemned a racist. Evidence and facts are increasingly less important and intention has long since ceased to matter at all. Could one blame the many honest people for just giving up entirely?
4. The cartoon's color palette sets the mood for the viewer and has nothing to do with the skin color of human beings. People tend to feel happier when the sun is out and when a room is well lit. They may comment, "It's a nice day" when the sun is out. Conversely, people tend to feel gloomier on darker days and in darker rooms because there is less light. But this is a statement about visibility and photons as they relate to human moods and emotions, not a statement about the dark and light shades of human skin pigment. Tatum makes too much of the fact that Scar's mane is black. We also frequently see Scar in a cave or in the shadow of a mountain or the shadow of a pit. The artists tried to set an ominous tone by making Scar's surroundings dark and making Scar fit in with his surroundings. Should Tatum refer to caves, mountains, and pits as racist constructs too because they block sunlight?
5. If you can find racism in The Lion King, you can find it anywhere. Does anyone really believe that this animated movie is evidence for racism? I feel embarrassed for and annoyed by Tatum for making such a claim.
6. Did I mention it's an animated movie? I'm completely shocked that this topic is even being discussed in a world with real issues confronting us.

So, Tatum, convinced of overwhelming white racism in modern America provides us with...one underdeveloped girl's dimwitted response and The Lion King. I'll let you decide how convincing such arguments are and their likely impact upon people of good faith striving to address actual problems.

Just a few more things because I don't want to waste any more time on this. Tatum tries to redefine racism to mean something like "a system of advantage based on skin color." Apparently, because white people hold most of the wealth in America, they use it to their advantage. It's unclear whether Tatum means to say that whites are racist because they have wealth or their racism is precisely what generates their wealth. She seems to think both. In her redefinition of racism, it is no longer about prejudice held against people because of their skin color or even specific acts. Rather, it is about an entire system that reflects itself in disparate success. Reality itself is so pervaded with racism that examples or evidence are not needed. As long as there are ethnic differences in wealth and income, there is white racism.

Never mind little things like differences in education, work hours, time spent reading, age demographics, spending habits, or any of the other factors that influence individual and group incomes. Never mind that some subsets of the population, notably certain groups of Asian-Americans, have higher per capita incomes and educational levels than white Americans. Nope, forget all that. Whites are just racist, and in Tatum's definition ONLY whites can be racist. And striving for a color blind society is not good enough, whites must be actively anti-racist (i.e. support affirmative action and presumably reparations and all other attempts to confiscate and distribute wealth) in order to not be racist. Tatum essentially argues that all whites are inherently racist, there is no escape, and the only morally acceptable choice is to sacrifice everything in an attempt to equalize everything.

In mucking up the language that everyone uses by redefining known terms like racism, Tatum generates needless confusion and avoids asking relevant questions. Not only is the book filled with mushy thinking and bad writing, this type of language tampering defeats the purpose of communicating ideas. I suspect this is somewhat intentional. If people could easily discern the claims Tatum actually makes, which I tried to outline above, they would laugh her off. And they should, if only the ideas weren't so damaging.

I submit simply that this type of nonsense further divides our country. It is so ludicrous it is hardly worth addressing. Nonetheless, Dinesh D'Souza took the time to address it thoroughly in "The End of Racism," a much better look at the issue that I highly recommend everyone read. Not that it should matter in a colorblind society where people's ideas are accepted or rejected on the basis of merit instead of the color of the author's skin, but D'Souza is a minority. He was born in India and, therefore, is not privy to the white systemic racism Tatum insists plagues all minorities. I would be very curious to see how she would respond to the arguments put forth by D'Souza but I'm not waiting around for her to address them.

I approached this book with an open mind, genuinely interested in learning about how blacks see the world and ready to alter my perception of reality. What I saw was racism of the worst kind, just in a different color.

***Update: So after my conversation with Christina in the comments section below, I wanted to see what other people thought of this book. The following Amazon review by Harry Wang was too good not to share. Wang writes:

"That's okay, Junior, we're just going to put the Lion King away for a little while (puts DVD in trash as kid cries, screaming). There, see? He's just going to sleep. Now let's go sit over here and talk about why mommy put the Lion King to sleep (kid still screaming). See, honey, the Lion King is a movie that is made by bad, evil people. Even though the Lion King is cute and the cartoons are nice to look at, the people who drew the animals want to do VERY BAD things to you. They want you to HATE yourself, and you know what? These people are EVERYWHERE WE LOOK. They aren't just in the Lion King, they're on your school bus, in your classroom, and in the cafeteria. They might even be your teacher. They might even be people who call you their friend and say you're pretty. Even when they say you're pretty, they're just saying those things to make themselves feel good. What they're really trying to say is that they HATE you and they want to HURT you!! (kid screams again, now scarred for life) Now let's talk about how Mulan says bad things about Asian people, how The Incredibles reinforces stereotypes of female inferiority, about how Buzz Lightyear destabilizes the corporate-controlled capitalist economy that subjugates the Black race, and how Finding Nemo is homophobic. And don't worry, mommy will tell you about these big words after you eat your bean pie, child. Power to the people!!"
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 74) (74 new)


message 1: by Nina (new) - added it

Nina Wow you do not get it to say the least.


Jarrod Jenkins Nina wrote: "Wow you do not get it to say the least."

Nina, thank you for your thoughtful and detailed comment. I will consider your thorough criticism at length. I particularly appreciate the specific points of mine that you refuted as it gives me much to ponder in the coming days and, indeed, for the rest of my life.


message 3: by Nina (new) - added it

Nina No problem.


message 4: by Seth (new)

Seth Haha! I love your response to Nina. That's just too funny. Your review was fantastic! I almost picked this book up but I think I will read The End of Racism you recommended instead. Thanks for your thoughtful review.


message 5: by Andrew (new)

Andrew This is a great review. It's amazing to me how many people actually believe that racism can be solved with more racism. The recommendation of D'Souza is a perfect counterpoint to her ridiculous arguments.


message 6: by Christina (last edited Jun 21, 2010 04:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Christina "Minorities, by contrast, must constantly confront their racial identity because behind every shadow lurks white prejudice and hatred just waiting for a chance to destroy their valiant efforts. All this deduced from one teenage girl's three second response."

There are ample examples of how other young people explain how whites are racist against them. One of the clearest examples if of the black girl who when living in the college dorms brought her black boyfriend to her shared room, and when he left, found her white dorm mates scrubbing everything down with cleaning detergent. Microaggresions like these are events that people of color have to deal with every day.

The point of the book was racism 101, and also how this ties into identity formation for young people. It was not supposed to be a book about cases of racism. If Lion King is not enough racism in the media for you, then check these:

http://mediamatters.org/blog/20100608...
http://mediamatters.org/blog/20100602...
http://mediamatters.org/research/2008...

There is plenty more where that came from. Google is your friend.

"Just a few more things because I don't want to waste any more time on this. Tatum tries to redefine racism to mean something like "a system of advantage based on skin color."

It's not her definition...she cites this sociological definition from where it came from, "In his book Portraits of White Racism, David Wellman argues convincingly that limiting our understanding of racism to prejudice does not offer a sufficient explanation for the persistence of racism. He defines racism as a 'system of advantage based on race.'" That was on page 7.

"Never mind little things like differences in education, work hours, time spent reading, age demographics, or any of the other factors that influence individual and group incomes. Never mind that some subsets of the population, notably certain groups of Asian-Americans, have higher per capita incomes and educational levels than white Americans."

Kyriarchy, or intersectionality, make it so that other statuses such as class and education do not negate the impact of race. She didn't say what you are saying she said, so I'm curious to how you came to this conclusion. She also explained why whites are racist and explained the difference between active and complicit racism at length on pages 10-13.

"And striving for a color blind society is not good enough, whites must be actively anti-racist (i.e. support affirmative action and presumably reparations and all other attempts to confiscate and distribute wealth) in order to not be racist."

Striving for colorblindness perpetuates racism.
http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise/...
http://grimhalla.blogspot.com/2008/04...

"Not that it should matter in a colorblind society where people's ideas are accepted or rejected on the basis of merit instead of the color of the author's skin, but D'Souza is a minority."

Institutionalized and systemic racism fly in the face of the American myth of meritocracy. It is impossible that meritocracy exist at the same time racism exists, due to the fact that people of color are discriminated against based on how they look alone, regardless of their merits. I recommend you reread the book, and this time, do so more closely, as Doctor Tatum has already addressed your arguments. You might also be interested in reading anti-racist blogs like Stuff White People Do in order to understand fully how white privilege leaves white people ignorant of the pervasiveness of racism.

Read this to understand the different types of racism:
http://academic.udayton.edu/race/2008...


Christina Andrew wrote: "This is a great review. It's amazing to me how many people actually believe that racism can be solved with more racism. The recommendation of D'Souza is a perfect counterpoint to her ridiculous a..."

I suggest you read the book to see what her actual well-formed and articulated arguments were besides the misrepresented version that Jarrod posits.


message 8: by Jarrod (last edited Jun 22, 2010 09:23PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jarrod Jenkins Christina,

Thank you for your comments. It's interesting that two people can read the same book and have such wildly different impressions. Nonetheless, I do appreciate your feedback and encourage you to write a review explaining your interpretation.

Here, I have to politely and completely disagree with you. In no way did I misrepresent Tatum's message, which is simply that white people are racist and benefit substantially from a pervasive racism in society. Her solution is for whites to be actively "anti-racist," which to her means at least supporting affirmative action and probably more.

The definition she adopts for racism is, as you say, "a system of advantage based on race," as opposed to the much more widely understood "prejudice or discrimination based on skin color." The examples Tatum and you cite do not support this new redefinition. Let's assume that the white roommate scrubbed everything down with cleaning detergent after the black boyfriend departed because she disliked black people, or something. In other words, assume the worst instead of assuming that this was a normally scheduled clean or that the couple had sexy time and mucked up the room, thus necessitating a clean. How does that white roommate gain any advantage in the act of cleaning the dorm? Does that help her get a job? Does it put more money in her wallet? Does she gain some skill that is marketable? How do other, unrelated white people, who weren't even aware of the event, gain from it? Where is the advantage? We know the white roommate has lost the money for the detergent and the time it took to clean because of her prejudice, but this situation is totally devoid of any advantage. This example of "racism" seems to be a cost much more than a benefit to the alleged "racist."

The same is true of the other examples you provide. John Stossel and Rand Paul stated that they believe private individuals should be able to run their private businesses as they choose--not a crazy proposition. Who gains the advantage there? Bill O'Reilly said the word "lynch" in reference to Michelle Obama but not at all as encouragement to kill her; in fact, he was giving her the benefit of the doubt on whether she hated America. What do white people gain from him saying that? And if there really is some advantage, why doesn't Bill-O just repeatedly say it and thereby accumulate advantages for himself since he is a whitey? Tom Woods, Jr. attended several conferences where the agenda was that the federal government was too large, a position with which I and millions of others completely agree. What does that have to do with race at all?

By contrast, affirmative action, which Tatum supports, is undeniably racist and morally indefensible. This is a blatant "system of advantage based on race." In fact, it is a paradigmatic example. Efforts at racial diversity lead to quantifiable and directly observable advantages in undergraduate applications, graduate applications, and job applications. So I agree with you: even using the unhelpful redefinition adopted by Tatum, there absolutely is racism in America. It just flows in the exact opposite direction that Tatum claims.

You say, "Kyriarchy, or intersectionality, make it so that other statuses such as class and education do not negate the impact of race." The information I have contradicts that. According to D'Souza and Thomas Sowell, two authors worthy of your time, once age, education, work experience, and all the other relevant factors are controlled, income differences between races fall to statistically insignificant levels. In fact, black women make slightly more than their equivalent white counterparts. These facts completely destroy Tatum's theory that race is the explanatory variable for income disparities.

D'Souza also argues that minorities have been placed in intentionally counter-stereotypical roles on television and in the movies for the last several decades. Blacks disproportionately play doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, and other prestigious professionals while whites disproportionately play the villain or criminal. This is merely a factual dispute, so take note the next time you watch a movie, T.V. show, or commercial. What race is the bad guy? The hero? If D'Souza's claims in "The End of Racism" are accurate, they destroy Tatum's claim that racism pervades the mass media. The reason I believe D'Souza is because he provides the footnotes and studies whereas Tatum provides "The Lion King."

You say, "Striving for colorblindness perpetuates racism." That's a fantastic argument when you think about it. There really are only two options: race will be factored into decision-making, or else it will not be. Your position is that not considering race at all is somehow racist. My position is that of John Roberts: "The way to stop racial discrimination is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." The former is inconsistent at best, the latter is axiomatic.


message 9: by Christina (last edited Jun 23, 2010 01:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Christina "Thank you for your comments. It's interesting that two people can read the same book and have such wildly different impressions. Nonetheless, I do appreciate your feedback and encourage you to write a review explaining your interpretation."

Thank you for considering them. I am not surprised that you cannot understand how I came to those conclusions. Not all of the ideas I mention are in her book, but they are necessary to understanding the framework in which she writes. She does take pains to be specific about what she means when she says racism and privilege, so you will not understand or come to incorrect conclusions if you cannot yet come to terms with the definition of racism she uses (and many sociologist use when talking about racial theory).

If you are not sure of what White privilege is I suggest you read Unpacking the Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh which Tatum mentions in the book. These privileges are safeguarded by policies that oppress people of color and give advantages to Whites. This can be found for free online.

"The definition she adopts for racism is, as you say, "a system of advantage based on race," as opposed to the much more widely understood "prejudice or discrimination based on skin color." The examples Tatum and you cite do not support this new redefinition. Let's assume that the white roommate scrubbed everything down with cleaning detergent after the black boyfriend departed because she disliked black people, or something. In other words, assume the worst instead of assuming that this was a normally scheduled clean or that the couple had sexy time and mucked up the room, thus necessitating a clean. How does that white roommate gain any advantage in the act of cleaning the dorm? Does that help her get a job? Does it put more money in her wallet? Does she gain some skill that is marketable? How do other, unrelated white people, who weren't even aware of the event, gain from it? Where is the advantage? We know the white roommate has lost the money for the detergent and the time it took to clean because of her prejudice, but this situation is totally devoid of any advantage. This example of "racism" seems to be a cost much more than a benefit to the alleged "racist.""

I've already mentioned that it was a racial microaggression. These are acts that reflect the bias, ignorance, and/or white privilege of white folks, which when added up at the end of the day lead to systemic racism. More on microaggressions:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/mi...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microagg...

Difference between systemic and institutional racism with individual racism:

http://academic.udayton.edu/race/2008...

The point is that institutional racism is perpetuated when people who have the power to affect many individuals like the government, corporations, educational institutions, etc. do so in a manner that is biased towards favoring whites. The wiki article on racism is worth a read too.

"The same is true of the other examples you provide. John Stossel and Rand Paul stated that they believe private individuals should be able to run their private businesses as they choose--not a crazy proposition. Who gains the advantage there? Bill O'Reilly said the word "lynch" in reference to Michelle Obama but not at all as encouragement to kill her; in fact, he was giving her the benefit of the doubt on whether she hated America. What do white people gain from him saying that? And if there really is some advantage, why doesn't Bill-O just repeatedly say it and thereby accumulate advantages for himself since he is a whitey? Tom Woods, Jr. attended several conferences where the agenda was that the federal government was too large, a position with which I and millions of others completely agree. What does that have to do with race at all?"

The free market cannot take care of racial problems. That is what led to the necessity of the Civil Rights Act in the first place, which the "freedom to discriminate against customers" would be in direct contradicition to.

http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.co...

(I also highly recommend Godheval and Geneva's response to colorblind in the comments thread.)

"By contrast, affirmative action, which Tatum supports, is undeniably racist and morally indefensible. This is a blatant "system of advantage based on race." In fact, it is a paradigmatic example. Efforts at racial diversity lead to quantifiable and directly observable advantages in undergraduate applications, graduate applications, and job applications. So I agree with you: even using the unhelpful redefinition adopted by Tatum, there absolutely is racism in America. It just flows in the exact opposite direction that Tatum claims."

It would be an unfair advantage if everybody were already at an equal status, and that equality in all areas for all races were a reality. This is obviously not the case. Affirmative Action is not racist because you're still operating from the definition of racism that Tatum is not talking about...also she already addressed how AA would not unduly benefit another person because for one thing POC are already behind because of white privilege, and for another if the AA program is done right, nobody who is not capable of the job will not get the job, period. She makes addresses how AA is not unfair on page 124. Why do I have to repeat to you something you must have already read? Gains for non-white people do not necessarily come for at the loss of white people: http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.co...

As for D'Souza's claims of more representation of POC in leading roles, just look a Prince of Persia, The Last Airbender, and a study done on Prime Time Television: http://www.c3.ucla.edu/newsstand/art/...

These arguments are beside the point. The argument that because there are more POC represented in popular media in prominent roles says nothing about institutional racism, nor does it neutralize it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institut...

Just look at the representation of POC in congress, at diversity in the Fortune 500, and go on and tell me that POC are just as privileged as Whites. This would be pure denial. Again, I recommend you take a look at that blog Stuff White People Do and read the book "Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama" by Tim Wise for more information.

I'm not going to repeat anymore answers than I already have. I've given you ample explanations and resources to continue to understand not just individual racism but the definition accepted by sociologists that is used in racist theory work- the same one that Tatum uses. At this point I hope you understand.


Christina Also, I am not just dropping those links as optional reading. They are completely necessary to understanding my argument if you refuse to take them for what they are right here. Those links go into the arguments further. If you don't read them you'll be wasting both our time. It would also be to your detriment.


message 11: by Jarrod (last edited Jun 24, 2010 07:42AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jarrod Jenkins It appears we are coming from two different sets of facts, which makes effective communication difficult. Moreover, I freely admit that I have established notions about how the world works and blindspots that may be preventing me from seeing the whole truth. However, I would suggest that the same is true of you.

In this comment thread, I'm not so much asking you to repeat ideas as to justify them or support them with evidence. You seem to accept as true the very propositions that I question: there is white privilege, there is institutional racism, "POC are already behind because of white privilege," "Gains for non-white people do not necessarily come for at [sic:] the loss of white people," "The free market cannot take care of racial problems." These are your starting assumptions, and I disagree with all of them. If you're going to advocate openly racist policies like affirmative action, the burden is on you to first show these assumptions are valid by pointing to incontrovertible evidence. You and Tatum have had plenty of opportunity to do that and you refer me to microaggressions. The leap from microaggressions, no matter how numerous, to systemic or institutional racism is a rather large one that should not be made lightly.

Again, the evidence reveals that the role of race for the last three decades or so in institutional decision making by schools, government, and corporations has usually been to place higher hurdles on "overrepresented" populations. Furthermore, in a zero-sum game such as college admissions with only a limited number of accepted applicants, benefits given to the privileged few must necessarily come at the expense of the others. I readily concede that preferences may have been justified in the recent past, as the history of this country, like every country in the world, has been marred by racism. I'm merely suggesting that new forms of racism perpetrated against a generation of people who are in no way responsible for past transgressions is not the solution; indeed, these policies can only serve to perpetuate the struggle by generating new grievances. This all seems obvious and indisputable.

I intend to read and ponder the materials you have suggested, so thank you for taking the time to refer me to them. I've already demonstrated a willingness to step outside my own beliefs and entertain new and different positions by reading Tatum's book. You too should read materials that challenge your established beliefs. "The End of Racism" is one of the most comprehensive books, but anything written or spoken by Thomas Sowell or Ward Connerly on the subject would be worth your while. To not open your mind to the ideas of these "POC's," as you say, would "be to your detriment."


Christina If you want more evidence of institutional racism, here are some:

There is continued racial segregation in housing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_s...

Only 19 people of color are in the Fortune 500 list.

http://www.diversityinc.com/content/1...

Racial diversity is not reflected in US Congress.

http://www.thisnation.com/congress-fa...

Twice as many black students as white students and four times as many Hispanic students as white students drop out of high school.

http://www.infoplease.com/us/educatio...

And then of course all the racial microaggressions that occur due to stereotypes of POC that are ingrained in white dominated society.


To continue to believe in meritocracy and see all of these as personal failings instead of something inherently wrong with the system is to ignore the role that white privilege plays in giving benefits to those who might not have deserved it. In Tatum's book she also mentions the study of people who were equally qualified but depending on their names and how ethnic they sound, they would not be accepted over a white applicant.

"I readily concede that preferences may have been justified in the recent past, as the history of this country, like every country in the world, has been marred by racism."

Do you also concede, then, that the effects of harmful racist policies simply disappear once they are taken out of legislation? This is wishful thinking. Racism has not just magically disappeared since everybody is enlightened now. Just look at the racist signs of Obama that Tea Partyers have in their rallies. It is not a problem of some few white people. They're stereotypes and bias that affect how blacks and other POC are treated throughout society.

I am at a loss. You thank me for taking the time to provide you with all the evidence you need yet admit you didn't read any of it. Somehow you feel justified in continuing to argue against the premises. Obviously you would not agree with me if you didn't even read everything I had to say as well as the links attached that provide the evidence! Why do you continue to feel justified in pushing your conclusion on me if you haven't done the homework? Do you see why I think this is a failed conversation because even though I continue to provide you with everything you need you still think what you have to say still stands? Do you see how arrogant of you and frustrating for me that is? No wonder POC are too impatient to teach white people, they don't want to listen even when they're given evidence that they ask for.

I'm sure that some of my privilege will blind me in some respects. I am making it clear here how yours is impeding you from actually learning anything. If you want to blame me for cherry picking evidence, I've already gone above and beyond Tatum's book and given you numerous links that you didn't read. I'm going to stop this conversation here because it takes two people to have a meaningful conversation and you have proven that you are not willing to do the work at this point. Good luck in your future endeavours.


message 13: by Jarrod (last edited Apr 04, 2011 10:31AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jarrod Jenkins The situation is not such that you have all the answers and I am merely suckling at your knowledge teet. Rather, there are two opposing views on this issue that must be weighed against one another. I am in the process of doing that now, and it started with Tatum's book. You do not seem to be interested in this endeavor at all, having clearly decided that Tatum is correct and D'Souza et al. may be dismissed out of hand. Instead of questioning your own worldview, you evidently feel compelled to condescend to me with statements like:

"Google is your friend."

"white privilege leaves white people ignorant of the pervasiveness of racism."

"the misrepresented version that Jarrod posits"

"Do you see how arrogant of you and frustrating for me that is? No wonder POC are too impatient to teach white people, they don't want to listen even when they're given evidence that they ask for."

"you are not willing to do the work at this point"

"Why do you continue to feel justified in pushing your conclusion on me if you haven't done the homework?"

From these statements and your general tone, I have learned that I am a poor listener, dishonest, ignorant, arrogant, and lazy. You deduced all this from the fact that I read and disagreed with Tatum's book, finding another line of reasoning more convincing!

I tell you I will explore the matter further and suggest you do the same, at which point you stop the conversation. That's probably for the best. I'm not sure how much more my fragile little self-image can take of you "microaggressing" me. If I really need to suage the pain, I might have to don the ghostly sheets that you know all white people keep in their closets, fire up the 'ole DVD player, and throw in "The Lion King."


Christina You fundamentally do not understand what racism is as she explains it in the book. Your continued refusal to address this no matter how many ways I explain it makes any further discussion impossible. I also appreciate the fact that regardless of whether you actually read anything I say, you turn around and try to discredit my character and place the blame on me for ad hominems.

I cannot comment on DeSouza because you didn't show me anything he wrote. Meanwhile I posted many, many examples for you that you did not read. Instead of apologizing for dismissing me out of hand, you tell me I'm not interested even though I literally spent at least two hours looking that information up FOR YOU when you're a grown man that can type and use google.

Honestly. Your posing is not appreciated. If you weren't going to look at what I had to say, you could've saved my time and energy by saying so instead of pretending to be logical about this. The fact that you use your privilege yet again to dismiss it as a laughable matter IS arrogant, lazy, and ignorant. Yeah, I'm done here.


message 15: by Jarrod (last edited Jun 24, 2010 07:53AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jarrod Jenkins In the slightly altered words of George H.W. Bush by way of the Dude from the Big Lebowski, "These microaggressions will not stand, man."

Christina, I truly wish you the best and hope we can laugh about this on another plane of existence.


message 16: by Andrew (new)

Andrew I think it's safe to say that I would never consider anyone who has ever been on Fox News, or ever will be, to be a good representative of people in general. There's a gray area when it comes to people who are libertarians and just putting those ideas out there, but at the end of the day libertarianism is as practical as communism. For example, as long as the civil rights act protects "white" people just as much as anyone else then it's a necessary compromise between freedom and equality.

On the other hand, affirmative action acts as a counter-meritocracy. It is not as bad as apartheid, but it is not the same as equal opportunity employment. Affirmative action is bad for everyone because it maintains the status quo instead of encouraging people to study more or work harder in order to advance. Because of this I fail to see how it's anything besides a complete disservice in the long run.

So I think people either want to believe in racism or they don't. People believe in racism because they think it will solve problems, but it only creates more problems.


message 17: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy Christina proves that people who go around looking to be offended will easily succeed. She implies that you have microaggressed her by ignoring her hours of tedious research. You privileged asshole. My only concern is for the sanity of someone who would spend hours trying to prove that racist acts do occur. Who would argue against that?


message 18: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom you are and idiot.


message 19: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy Oh the irony of misspelling "an" when you call someone an idiot...


Melissa Towne Despite "not wanting to waste time on this," I can see that you have written quite a thorough rant here as well as spent considerable time thinking of witty insults to post to your commenters. Look, if you want to read books by people that agree with you, go subscribe to the National Review. It looks like you made up your mind before you cracked open this book, so there's going to be nothing in it for you. I think these kinds of self-satisfied internet monologues are often more for the self gratification of those who write them, than for anyone in particular that they are directed to. So it looks like you have achieved your ends.


Jarrod Jenkins Mel, your insights were refreshingly accurate. The National Review is an outstanding publication, my statements were saturated with wit, and I am extremely gratified and satisfied with self.


message 22: by Andrew (new)

Andrew It's much easier to believe in hidden racism than it is to realize that life is hard for everyone and that everything is more complicated than it seems.


message 23: by Rob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob "Christina says: You fundamentally do not understand what racism is as she explains it in the book."

To be fair, she does come up with her own definition of racism, and excuses other people for having a different definition. Dr. Tatum's definition is not the only way to see racism.

Just as "white privilege" leaves White people ignorant of racism (and it does,to some degree) this is NO different than the other "ism's". Able bodied people don't know what it's like to be wheel-chair bound. Men don't know what it's like to be a woman, and so on. Focusing solely on race is fine for a book like Tatum's. She tells us that she is doing so and we all read the book for this particular analysis.

But to LIVE that way, is an entirely different issue. To see yourself primarily as a race, when most of society sees you as much more than that (though, also that) is to take the Klansman's hood off of the Klansman, and willingly put it upon yourself.

And to turn around and actively discriminate against gays, as many in the Black community do, is just blind, ignorant, and inexcusable. Calling it "God's will" is just insult to injury.

So while I admit that racism still exists, it's hard to have sympathy for it when those discriminated against are so willing to define themselves primarily by their race, and who actively practice discrimination themselves.


message 24: by Andrew (new)

Andrew That is a great way to explain things Rob. From the book's title, it sounds like it would be an analysis of why black kids seem to "define themselves primarily by their race". Instead, the book attempts to redefine racism in a way that is racist.


Ethan Christina - thank you.


message 26: by Nenia (new) - rated it 1 star

Nenia Campbell My sentiments EXACTLY.

God, this book is poisonous and filled with hate.

I think we have enough hate.


message 27: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy Nice microaggression, Nenia. Hahaha.


message 28: by Nenia (new) - rated it 1 star

Nenia Campbell Et tu, Brute. :P


Paige I just finished this book. I'm looking at page 48 where she talks about the Lion King for two short paragraphs and she does not once mention that Scar's mane is black--so I don't know how "Tatum makes too much of the fact that Scar's mane is black." She says in the second paragraph that her sons disagreed with her and that was okay with her. From the characterization that you wrote, she seems loony, but what she's actually doing, in that particular instance, is trying to start a dialogue about race in the media. Not so nuts, really.

I think this book was right on. I didn't find any of her points to be "racist" at all--because they weren't. The fact that she argues that we are breathing racism in like smog shows that she doesn't think whites are inherently racist. People learn racial biases like they learn any other social custom. She talks extensively about how positive identities are developed as either a white person or a black person.

It almost seems like I read a different book than you did because you say that Tatum made claims or said something that she just didn't say.

When I first came across strong antiracist personalities, I was sort of offended. "I would never oppress someone! Jay-Z has more money than me, how can you say I have more privilege!" I'm embarrassed to admit it now. So I mean, I get it. But give it some time and maybe try again.


message 30: by Jarrod (last edited May 17, 2013 06:54AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jarrod Jenkins I read this book over three years ago, but I'm not in the habit of intentionally misrepresenting authors. The relevant portion of pg. 48 says:

"For example, when discussing with [her children] my plans to talk about media stereotyping in this book, I offered the example of the Disney film The Lion King. A very popular family film, I was dismayed at the use of ethnically identifiable voices to characterize the hyenas, clearly the undesirables in the film. The Spanish-accented voice of Cheech Marin and the Black slang of Whoopi Goldberg clearly marked the hyenas racially. The little Lion King is warned never to go to the place where the hyenas live. When the evil lion (darker in shade than the good lions) takes over, and the hyenas have access to power, it is not long before they have ruined the kingdom. 'There goes the neighborhood.'"

Some observations:
1. You're correct that her children disagree with her. Thank god they are more sane than their mother.
2. She explicitly mentions the evil lion is a darker shade than the good lions. Scar's darker shade comes mostly from his black mane as opposed to Mufasa's light brown mane.
3. You have reconfirmed in my mind that this author is a loon, a fool, and a dangerous charlatan. Thanks.


message 31: by Paige (last edited May 17, 2013 03:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paige Whether it's intentional or not, from my point of view you did misrepresent it. It doesn't have to be intentional for it to take place. I gave another example of why I feel you were misrepresenting it, but it's like Lion King overshadows everything for you. Which is okay, I guess, because it's an excellent film in my opinion (although I can still critique it on a few fronts), but it seems by focusing on that alone you're missing out on a wider discussion.

She doesn't mention Scar's mane at all, and his fur is also a darker color. I know 'cause I love the Lion King, I bought it the day it came out on DVD and have watched it many times.

Also, I am totally laughing at "dangerous charlatan." :D


Jarrod Jenkins Actually, I did not misrepresent anything, as anyone capable of reading comprehension can understand. If you re-read my original review, you'll find that I said this book is trash and then provided two examples. (To discuss every example would be to write a review longer than the original book itself.) One example I chose to mock was the author claiming the Lion King as evidence of racism because of the voices supplied by minorities. I went on to write, "Additionally, the noble characters like Mufasa and Simba are drawn in lighter shades of brown than the evil characters like Scar, who has a black mane." Compare that to the author's words, "the evil lion (darker in shade than the good lions)...." My paraphrasing is completely accurate and does not even slightly alter the author's asinine underlying point: the Lion King is evidence of media bias.

Thanks for playing.


Paige Sorry, I'm still laughing at "dangerous charlatan"


message 34: by Rob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob I don't think you are. I think you're just out of things to say so now you're just being rude and insulting. I'm ok with that, just don't pretend otherwise. Tatum's book is, to many reasonable people, racist propaganda. Plain and simple. You can either dismiss us and mock us, or ... yeah, ya know what? Just do that. We're fine with it. Seriously - go read Roots or something and pretend the White Man is still keeping people down.


message 35: by Paige (last edited May 21, 2013 03:31AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paige I don't really like Alex Haley's writing style much, actually, and what I do know of him annoys me somewhat, so I doubt I'd enjoy reading something by him as long as Roots. I actually did laugh at "dangerous charlatan," but before that I did try to talk to Jarrod; I wasn't dismissing him out of hand, as others have done. I'm certainly not "out of things to say," but I think we both agree that my time is better spent elsewhere: it was Jarrod who got "rude and insulting" with me first ("anyone capable of reading comprehension can understand" and "thanks for playing")--not that "rude" is really my favorite word to use to describe a person; I'd rather say that he didn't meet my need for honesty, communication, or respect--not that I think it's his job to provide those things for me either, but it is definitely refreshing and actually pretty awesome when a person does. Never know 'till you try! ;)


message 36: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Jane Elliott is even scarier to me than Beverly Tatum. She's the former teacher who did the "blue eyes/brown eyes" experiment on elementary school children that you may be familiar with. She moved on to run her own brand of diversity seminar, which is based on the idea that white people are still perpetuating a pre-civil rights era culture that subjugates anyone who is not white. I'm incredibly grateful that I never lived during that time, and that it would be nearly impossible for me to imagine if I did not see pictures of signs from that era. There is still racism everywhere in the world today, but the difference today is that educated people know that racism is wrong. There are still racists today, but we properly regard them as idiots for being racists. In my experience, we live in a different world than the one described by Elliott and Tatum. No one could get away with doing what Jane Elliott does in that classroom. The way to get rid of racism is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, not to dish out more racism. People like Jane Elliott and Beverly Tatum believe that they are soldiers of righteousness, when they are actually reinforcing the idea that race is something that people should be judged by.

Here is a documentary about what Jane Elliott does:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf2LB0...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neEVoF...


message 37: by Paige (last edited May 23, 2013 05:36PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paige I'm really curious why you guys keep referring to anti-racist activists as "dangerous." I mean, surely, any human has the capacity to be dangerous and any movement can stray from its goals in harmful ways, but there seems to be something especially frightening to you about anti-racism. (Disclosure: I have never heard of Jane Elliott before; I didn't watch the documentary yet. Perhaps she really does pose a threat to people's lives and well-being.) Are you looking for fairness, acceptance, and inclusion?

"Educated people" may know that racism is wrong, and it's true that many overt forms of racism are today thankfully eradicated. There may no longer be separate drinking fountains, but the scars don't heal that quickly. Plenty of people alive today remember those times and didn't see anything particularly wrong with them. Martin Luther King, Jr thought that most white people were "unconscious racists," a charge that the Harvard Implicit Association Tests seem to bear out. In my experience, talking to friends and family, they will sometimes say things that betrays racist thinking. When I comment on that fact, they are quick to say that they're not racist, and I do believe that they would never intentionally discriminate or act in an oppressive way. Yet the language they use perpetuates racism. I'll give you an example: I have a friend who said that a certain neighborhood "got more violent because the blacks moved there." When I probed a bit more, I found out she was referring to acts of white violence visited on blacks. Yet saying that the violence happened BECAUSE blacks moved to an area makes it sound like it is the black people's fault; if they themselves are not committing the violent acts, it makes it sound like it's still their fault by virtue of existing in that space. It's like saying, "Silly black people, why don't you just move away, to somewhere that you're wanted! If you just lived in a different neighborhood, nobody would hurt you!" It lays the responsibility for the racism at the black people's feet instead of the perpetrators'. One could instead say something more accurate like, "white violence against black people increased after black people moved into the neighborhood" or "the neighborhood became more violent after black people moved there because some of the racist white people who also lived there were assaulting them" or "the neighborhood got more violent because black people moved there and the racist whites started to hurt them." Another time someone told my boyfriend & I that "blacks just don't have a culture of education." Of course they claimed not to be racist. My boyfriend pointed out that after slavery ended, black people were extremely poor and had their entire culture taken away from them; it was hard to just survive, much less get schooling in any meaningful capacity. Further, schools are funded by property taxes, so if you are already living in a low income area, your school is just not going to be as well-funded or offer the same quality of education. Yet saying that "blacks just don't have a culture of education," makes it sound like they are inherently stupider, less-educated, less capable, etc. etc. Again it makes it sound like their fault. It ignores the legacy of slavery and the history of racism that they have faced since being brought to this country against their wills, and it ignores the very strong influence that society plays in people's thoughts.

Tatum doesn't think race is "something people should be judged by"--at least that's not the meaning I take from it. In this society, most people of color do have experiences that are different from most white people. Those experiences shape people's lives; those experiences are part of who they are. And as long as most people of color have different experiences due to their skin color, race will be a relevant part of those people's identities, which they may not want to have erased.


message 38: by J.M. (new) - rated it 4 stars

J.M. Lawrence reading a thread full of white people debating racism is like watching a dog eat its own vomit.


Heather J.M. I will fondly remember that quote forever.


message 40: by Nenia (new) - rated it 1 star

Nenia Campbell So you don't think someone who isn't white can be racist? That seems pretty racist in and of itself.

Why are you attacking this man's review? He has a right to his opinion.


Shelley (Goodreads is All About the $$$) Nenia wrote: "So you don't think someone who isn't white can be racist? That seems pretty racist in and of itself.

Why are you attacking this man's review? He has a right to his opinion."


I'm curious about that also.


message 42: by Allis (new)

Allis how annoying, he probably feels so strongly due to his denial. LOL.


message 43: by Rob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob I'm a mulatto, just for the record. White mom, black dad, and I'm closer to the white side of my family than the black.


message 44: by Allis (new)

Allis so am i what is your point lol


message 45: by Allis (new)

Allis im white black an asian so i would probably have more reason to critique her work if you understand her heart you would be less accusatory in your tone thanks.


message 46: by Rob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob You have more reason to critique her work? Why, because you have one more race in you than me?

And no, I don't "understand her heart" because I don't know the woman. I don't think you do, either.


message 47: by Allis (new)

Allis Yep. Because i' ll bet you 50 dollars you have never been persecuted bc of your color.persecutes not someone assumed you were a racist bc your were white..most ppl have biases i have been on both sides so i have a perspective you dont. Give me an example when someone judged you soley bc of your race or ethnicity. You dont understand bc its never happened to you. Are you oppressed have you been accused or threatened by someone bc of a perceived truth? You will probably never understand unless you go live in a country where you are a minority and the native ppl abuse you. So no you
dont get it accept it.


message 48: by Allis (new)

Allis I mean you have every right to critique her work it' s a ' free'country however heres a bombshell someone may have information that you dont. Hmm go figure.


message 49: by HJ (new)

HJ Nenia wrote: "So you don't think someone who isn't white can be racist? That seems pretty racist in and of itself."

Seriously wondering about this myself. Especially as I've had some experiences.


message 50: by Zahara (new)

Zahara The idea that there exists any group who can't be racist is absurd. People are people, no matter their color or race. If all white people on earth ceased to exist, racism would still flourish.


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