Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Why American’s School Friendships Aren’t Integrated

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Image credit: Krissy Venosdale

It is still the case that that 90 percent of white children have only white friends,” says Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?”

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Communities across the United States are grappling with a national reckoning on police brutality and systemic racism.

Most of us are living in segregated communities and that is not by accident.” — Beverly Daniel Tatum, author

The movement for liberation and equality has instigated a re-evaluation of American institutions and has also caused many to reconsider their own individual relationships and actions. Many people are, maybe for the first time, taking stock of their intimate relationships, associations and encounters.

Listen: Author Beverly Daniel Tatum on cross-racial friendships. 


Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is a psychologist and author of the book “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?”

She says the absence of cross-racial friendships is often solidified at a very young age and that the persistence of segregation is to blame. “Most of us are living in segregated communities and that is not by accident, one of the ways racism has manifested itself is the ways that neighborhoods are structured,” says Tatum.

She says if a school is indeed racially mixed that doesn’t mean segregation won’t still endure. Tatum says that when people see groups of Black students and white student sitting apart at schools, many will say that Black students are self-segregating. This is an incorrect assumption according to Tatum. “Kids may be sitting together because they have a shared experience or they don’t feel welcome and it’s a protective strategy in adolescence, that separation is not the same thing as intentionally segregating,” says Tatum.

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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