Beverly Tatum’s book ‘why all black students sited together in the cafeteria’
Few people seem to know about racial development and identity including those who have pursued child psychology. Inter-racial interaction has been a major challenge due to lack of psychological understanding amongst the people (Tatum 2). Both white and black adults are hesitant to speak to their children about racism as they fear creating problems that will make children become color-conscious. Tatum observes the lack of awareness and initiates a conversation of people’s perception about racism. Many people tend to think that racism is a forgotten thing. Many assume that racial identity is not a significant issue especially amongst the adolescents. The modern society fails to recognize how important racial identity is and instead disregards it as an insignificant issue. Tatum emphasizes the importance of working collectively with the youth as we reflect on assumptions we make about importance or dangers mixing up with others whom they do not share skin color. Tatum takes into account that the conversation is the beginning of fighting racism, but further actions are necessary. Although the conversation has occurred in our communities about color for some time, the book ignites further conversation with hopes of bringing change eventually (Tatum 4).
Chapter one shows us how people especially the white defend themselves about racism experiences. It is hard to find people talking about racism let alone acknowledging the fact that it exists in the society. Social segregation still exists in communities. Our efforts to distort historical information concerning people of color makes the young make their own assumptions that are likely to last for a long time unchallenged. At times the assumptions we hold about other people do not come from what we have heard, seen or read but rather from what remains untold. The notion that the things we have not been told have significant power do not hold waters. The book emphasizes the need for constantly questioning and catching the assumptions held by the young and determining the extent to which they impact actions and attitudes towards others (Tatum 5-12).
Chapter two and three reflects how the issue of racism elicits pain accompanied with feelings of guilt and anger amongst many white people. These feelings have the impacts of hindering further conversation and discussion. The conversations we encounter reflect the preference for white color as well as privileges bestowed historically upon the white. In a conversation, a black boy is quoted asking whether he has to be black triggered by desire to become a doctor. The boy is a fun of a particular television show that aired firefighters and paramedics who were all white. Tatum asserts that children ought to recognize and acknowledge distorted representations and know what should be done about them (Tatum 19-49).
Chapter four and five shows how things start changing as children grow up. Black girls in areas dominated by white communities become aware of when their friends start dating, and they are left out. The issue of who is desirable sexually between people of colors and the white emerges leaving the black girls divested. The need for acknowledging that interrupting the oppression cycle and sharing what we have learnt with future generations is beneficial. Evidence shows that black students attending historically black universities and colleges perform well academically as opposed to their white counterparts attending predominantly white institutions. The white are concerned when the black sits together. The white wonders whether they are being secluded, whether the black are talking about them among other questions that reflect on self consciousness (Tatum 53-89).
Chapter six and seven shows us how hard it is to initiate a discussion about a certain topic with a person who seems not to understand the concept. It is evident that people are comfortable when they are with those whom they share looks. When people are made to interact with someone who does not match their interests, attitude and opinion, there is a feeling of unease that becomes difficult to articulate (Tatum 93-122). Chapter eight and nine makes us understand that teenagers are better off when adults and parents talk about issues related to racial identity. The most challenging task facing immigrant children involves reconciliation of home culture with the dominant culture of America. Native communities of America have been portrayed as conservative. Tatum emphasizes the need for remaining positive in ones’ culture in the face of racism (Tatum 138-188).
Chapter ten summarizes by highlighting the need for breaking silence on racism as and when we can. Tatum sums it up by acknowledging dialogue in creating awareness to introduce social change and effective actions. Education for us and for the others is crucial to bring change. We will never break the cycle of racism if we remain silent waiting for perfection (Tatum 193-205).
Reflection of Davis Guggenheim film of ‘waiting for superman’
Waiting for superman film, 2010 presents us with incredibly troubling information of our public schools and the purported progressive models for change. The data we are presented with is properly cited distinguishing it from personal polemics. It calls for action in the best interest of the youth in the nation. Davis Guggenheim provides us with the website for retrieving information which makes it hard to badmouth the film. A closer analysis of the film however shows that most information is generalized and subject to debate (Guggenheim and Lesley 52). The issue with the film is that part of it is the truth while the rest is false. Also, it is comprehensive but incomplete.
The film starts with Geoffrey Canada, who is a social activist and a dynamic educator and also the CEO and founder of Harlem children home. Canada, who grew up in a low-income family takes the viewers back to his experiences of childhood specifically about the non-existence of superman as told by his mother. Canada becomes sad when he realizes that there was nobody to save him and the community at large. Guggenheim presents a miserable image of the education system of America as being insufficient for many families. He features families that are frequently struggling looking for better education opportunities for children. Although most of the parents are low income earners, Guggenheim shows the viewers that their children are intelligent and able to learn (Guggenheim and Lesley 52). However, the children attend schools that perform poorly that are likely to diminish their chances of succeeding.
Most of the characters in the film feature a heart wrenching stories that establishes some sense of outrage and urgency. The biggest question is how to overcome the challenge in a big country like United States. Guggenheim clearly brings out struggles and concerns of these families and links them to the sophisticated system of education. As a documentarian, Guggenheim has a challenge of making his film both entertaining and informative at the same time. He edits and manipulates relevant information and makes counterarguments likely to confound his thesis. He makes the viewers believe that education professionals do not do enough to improve public education standards. The president too has not given public education enough attention to bring change. Guggenheim cites country’s lack of proficiency and uses animations and graphics to show the large number of students failing on state-based assessments. He judges quality of players on education sector on a field that is flawed (Guggenheim and Lesley 53). The talking head and Guggenheim do not engage their viewers in a powerful analysis about the manner in which demands and policies of NCLB have curtailed what schools in urban areas can do. Instead, criticism is placed on teachers’ unions and teachers. He is also concerned about United States of America students being ranked 22nd in an international contest.
The problem with Guggenheim is that he does not provide viewers with counterargument to this information but holds them up for failing. His comparisons in the film do not point out that they are similar to comparing oranges and apples. Educators have a feeling that relying on standardized and high stake tests is not enough to indicate failure. They argue that teaching that is test centered only leads to student knowing how to take specific test. Guggenheim analysis and judgment misses the point because it is not based on true measures of intelligence and learning such as application of knowledge, environment manipulation, critical thinking, and creation of self-generated strategies and identification of community problems. Guggenheim places blame on teachers’ union and teachers for the failure of public schools in his discourse. Although he explains briefly why each contributes to the failure, his criticism does more damage and instead provides the viewers with an incomplete picture (Guggenheim and Lesley 55).
The tragedy about the film is that it is based on political posturing instead of a clearly analyzing issues and suggesting necessary change. Works of Geoffrey Canada in Harlem helps in bringing change to communities. True reforms in education and success of students cannot take place unless the nation addresses social, economic and political challenges that curtail progress in schools (Guggenheim and Lesley 57). Guggenheim film is far from challenging that and as such it requires be debated and challenged to become a useful tool for education
Guggenheim, Davis, and Lesley Chilcott. Waiting for 'superman' (2010). S.l.: Paramount Pictures, 2011.
Tatum, Beverly D. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations About Race. New York: Basic Books, 1997. Print.