Alumni and Friends Book Club

Tatum book cover

Book Club

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Dr. Beverly Tatum
October 22, 7:00 - 8:30 P.M. CDT

This Alumni and Friends Book Club Book Club will be hosted by Dr. Sherry Turner '84 and Dr. Laura Taylor.

Dr. Sherry Turner '84 is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Rhodes College. Dr. Turner is responsible for helping Rhodes bring to life the ambitious goals outlined in the college’s emerging strategic plan. She will also provide executive leadership in developing and implementing a strategic campus vision for diversity and equity. Dr. Turner, a native Memphian, formerly served as the director of institutional success and support for United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Institute for Capacity Building (ICB). There, she worked with 37 UNCF member institutions to help them fulfill their strategic goals. Turner oversaw technical assistance, consulting services, and professional development aimed at building capacity in accreditation, fiscal affairs, enrollment management, institutional advancement, and institutional effectiveness. 

Dr. Laura A. Taylor is an Assistant Professor of Educational Studies at Rhodes College, where she teaches courses on literacy teaching and learning in urban schools. Prior to earning her doctorate, she was a teacher at a public elementary school in Houston, Texas. In both research and teaching, she centers the role of talk in learning, considering how teachers and students construct knowledges, discourses, and identities through interaction. Her current research interests include the enactment of humanizing pedagogies within accountability-constrained schools, multimodal perspectives on identity construction, and the pedagogical possibilities of narrative.

This book is intended to encourage conversations about race and racism in the context of the United States. As is discussed at length in the book, many people find race-related conversations difficult to have, particularly in racially-mixed settings. 

Drs. Turner and Taylor provided these Reflections below to consider while reading and to use as a guide while participating in the book club event. 

  • Reflection: Does the definition of racism as “a system of advantage” make sense to you? Why or why not? If people of color are disadvantaged by racism, how are White people advantaged by it, knowingly or unknowingly?
  • Reflection: What examples of active and passive racism have you observed or experienced? What examples of active anti-racism have you witnessed or participated in?
  • The author refers to “the White culture of silence about racism,” and encourages her readers to break the silence about racism whenever they can (p.333). She writes, “In order for there to be meaningful dialogue, fear, whether of anger or isolation, must eventually give way to risk and trust. A leap of faith must be made (p.337). Reflection: Have you also observed this culture of silence? What are some of the personal and social costs of such silence? Have you felt the fear or anger that the author describes? Have you been able to make “the leap of faith” the author describes? If so, what helped you do so?

Please visit our webpage that includes a more comprehensive reading guide.

Where to Order:

In Memphis, we recommend purchasing from one of our two independent bookstores:
Novel Bookstore
Burke's Bookstore

If you are outside of Memphis, you can search the Indie Bound Directory for a local bookstore.

Register below to access the Zoom link.