Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

28 minutes

In TeachLab’s first episode, our host Justin Reich has a powerful conversation with renowned author, psychologist and educator Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. Dr. Tatum shares some of the stories that inspired her bestselling book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race and offers tips for addressing the ongoing challenges of racial issues in classrooms and schools.

  • Dr. Tatum encourages teachers to take the first step in tackling racism by talking about it, because “if we can’t talk about it, we can’t fix it”.
  • Dr. Tatum says that all of us can take a leadership role in making institutions more sensitive towards inclusivity by using her ABCs of leadership
    • Affirming Identity
    • Building Community
    • Cultivating Leadership
  • Dr. Tatum tells us that there is value in sitting together with those of a shared identity, and it’s not necessarily a problem “So I often say, let's worry less about who's sitting where during the break times, and think about what's happening inside the classroom. Are there opportunities inside the classroom to help kids navigate those differences?”
  • She shares stories of how ignoring identity and engaging in color blindness is not helpful. “One father said it really bothered him when teachers said they treated all the kids the same. His response to that was always, 'The same as what?'"


About Our Guest: Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, is a developmental psychologist, administrator and educator who has conducted research and written several books on the topic of racism, including the recently published 20th anniversary edition of her bestselling book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race. A thought-leader in higher education, she was the 2013 recipient of the Carnegie Academic Leadership Award and the 2014 recipient of the American Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology. Dr. Tatum holds a B.A. degree in psychology from Wesleyan University, a M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from University of Michigan, and a M.A. in Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary.


About Our Host: Justin Reich

Justin Reich is an educational researcher passionate about the future of learning in a networked world. He is an Assistant Professor in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, where Justin and his team design, implement, and research the future of teacher learning. Justin’s writings have appeared in Science, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Educational Researcher, the Washington Post, Inside Higher Ed, the Christian Science Monitor, Education Week, and other publications. Justin's favorite hobbies are spending time outside hiking, climbing, and boating with his wife and two school-aged daughters. He has a new book on education technology forthcoming this fall from Harvard University Press.


Additional Resources

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race – Read Dr. Tatum’s book updated and reissued in 2017.

ROPES – This blog post describes a protocol for collaboratively creating shared rules and expectations for the classroom. It could also be used to kick off challenging conversations with educators.

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism” – Dr. Tatum recommended teachers read Dr. Robin DiAngelo; this article provides pointers based on her book.

Is My Skin Brown Because I Drank Chocolate Milk? – Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum’s presentation at TEDxStanford about how people talk (or don’t) about race and how to approach the conversation with young children.





Join our next course on edX!

Becoming a More Equitable Educator: Mindsets and Practices


Produced by Jesse Dukes and Garrett Beazley

Edited by Aimee Corrigan

Recorded and Mixed by Garrett Beazley

Filmed by Denez McAdoo


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