Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.
South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race writes:
Maplewood, NJ, May 13, 2016 – Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, retired Spelman President, presented a moving speech on race in America to 200 residents during the 16th annual Conversations on Race on May 11, 2016, hosted by the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race. After nearly 20 years since her first visit, Dr. Tatum reprised the topic based on her book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and conducted a Q&A session. On the heels of recent racist comments by local students on social media, this event was well timed to provide a safe space to examine the ongoing race relations in our communities and nationwide.
Topics of Dr. Tatum’s speech included recent statistics on America’s changing color lines and her views on racism, stereotypes, and white privilege over the last 20 years. Through eye-opening facts, such as nearly 90% of the 8,000 people increasing the U.S. population daily through immigration and birth rates are those of color, Dr. Tatum painted a picture of a society becoming ironically divisive based on shades of brown within the African-, Asian-, and Hispanic-American communities.
Dr. Tatum reminded us that we are not living in a post-racial world, but rather in a 21st-century version of the Reconstruction era. Although there have been gains (President Obama, black CEOs, etc.), there are reactionary forces among racist populations that are gaining ground and finding new leaders who echo their (often times) “silent hate.” She reminded the audience that they have more power than they think to exercise leadership and change.
“Everyone has a sphere of influence, such as family, friends, and colleagues,” said Dr. Tatum. “Here’s my charge to all of you: use your social network to take a stand, disrupt the cycle, and ask difficult questions. We are all part of a chain. We should set the example, knowing that others will follow.”
Dr. Tatum closed her speech by stating the integrated South Orange and Maplewood community is a sign of hope. For 20 years, the Coalition on Race’s objectives for events like Conversations on Race has been to engage the community in discussions about how we face race, build relationships across racial and cultural barriers, and to address how our perceptions of race affect our day-to-day experiences.
For more information on the South Orange/Maplewood Coalition on Race and to learn about upcoming events, go to www.twotowns.org.