Just Talk: It Shrinks Racial Divide, Expert Says

Sep 5, 2019

Race relations expert Beverly Tatum has issued a new version of her book "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race."
Credit Courtesy photo | Beverly Tatum

What's one of the most powerful ways to reduce racism in America? Just talk to someone different than you. So says race relations scholar Beverly Tatum, the former longtime president of Spelman College, an historically black women's college in Atlanta. 


Relationships lead to caring about another person. Caring about another person leads to taking action, and it's the action that is ultimately what brings about change

Tatum was recently in Kalamazoo at the invitation of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation as part of the foundation's participation in a nationwide racial healing initiative called Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, known as TRHT. She led trainings and discussions.

WMUK's Local Morning Edition Host Earlene McMichael attended her Aug. 18 community discussion, and later interviewed her by phone for today's WestSouthwest news and public affairs show.

"Engagement with that other person, hearing that other person's story, seeing how their humanity is just like yours...that is something that happens through dialogue," Tatum tells McMichael. "So when I talk about dialogue, I talk about it not as something to do just because it's nice to have substantive conversation but because those types of conversations lead to relationships.

Credit Earlene McMichael | WMUK

"Relationships lead to caring about another person. Caring about another person leads to taking action, and it's the action that is ultimately what brings about change."

Tatum is the author of the book "Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race." First released in 1997, a newer version came out in 2017.