Beverly Daniel Tatum is the author of an important book that I think every American should read called Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race. She is also an expert at facilitating conversations around race.
I wanted to have Beverly on the podcast because discussing race in a respectful, productive manner is so critical at the current moment. Also, speaking as a white person, I know that a lot of white people would like to engage in a dialogue about race, but feel totally ill-equipped.
Beverly and I discuss many subjects in this conversation, among them:
- Why is it so difficult to talk about race?
- How can we get past the discomfort and have these conversations?
- What is racism?
- How can white people do a better job of empathizing with African Americans and understand their experiences with racism?
- How can we go beyond simply being "not racist" and instead be "actively anti-racist?"
- What is white privilege and why should white people stop being so defensive about the term?
- Why is colorblindness not a productive approach to dealing with racism?
* * *
Race is of course at the forefront of our debate in the United States. Just yesterday, in fact, I started my day by reading two news stories. One was about how Starbucks was closing 8,000 stores for the afternoon to offer racial bias training to its employees. This decision followed a situation a few weeks ago in which a Starbucks employee called the police on two black men who were doing absolutely nothing wrong.
The other story was about how Roseanne Barr had written a racist tweet that compared Valerie Jarrett (a black woman and friend of President Obama) to an ape. The outrage to her tweet was immediate, and within a few hours, ABC cancelled Roseanne's show despite it's very high ratings.
Both of these stories show that racism and racial bias are alive and well in the United States (and these aren't even the tragic stories). But I think these stories can also give us some hope that we're slowly making progress--that many Americans are increasingly interested in calling out racism when they see it and working to actively combat it.
To get there, more white people must take the time to learn about how African Americans' daily experiences differ from their own, how privilege and discrimination impact people's lives, and how attitudes of "colorblindness" and "I'm not racist" contribute to the perpetuation of racism.
But we can't have these conversations if everyone is talking over each other, pointing fingers, and failing to ask the right questions.
I hope this podcast plays some small role in helping to facilitate the conversations we need to have.
In addition to listening to my interview with Beverly, I recommend checking out her book. There are actually two editions of the book, and from my perspective, they're quite different.
Both editions are great-- it just depends on what you're looking for.
My guest today is Sapreet Kaur. Sapreet served as the executive director of the Sikh Coalition for nine years.
Since the 9/11 attacks and the rise of Donald Trump, Sikhs have increasingly become the targets of hate crimes because of their appearance.
In this episode we talk about: