East Hill Notes: Beverly Tatum to talk about racial identity development in Ithaca

By Ilze Lemesis

Photo Provided Beverly Tatum

Beverly Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, will be in Ithaca Wednesday, September 13, to speak at two events on racial identity development and related issues, details below.

Tatum’s critically acclaimed book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and Other Conversations About Race,” made the case that Americans are generally reluctant to talk about issues of race, and that we must consider the psychological effects of racial identity development.

In Ithaca Wednesday, Tatum will discuss the revised 20th anniversary edition of her book, and why frank discussions about racial identities remain essential to enable communication across racial and ethnic divides.

Tatum will identify why functioning communities need to explore racial stereotypes, beliefs, and perspectives, and embrace and continue cross-racial dialogue. She will also address effective strategies to engage others in recognizing, understanding, and embracing their racial identity.

Born in Tallahassee, Florida, Tatum earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wesleyan University, a master’s and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, and master’s degree in religious studies from Hartford Seminary.

She taught Black studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara, psychology at Westfield State College and Mount Holyoke College, and served as chairperson of the psychology department, college dean, vice president for student affairs, and acting president of Mount Holyoke in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

In addition to bringing her expertise in racial identity development to lectures and workshops across the world, Tatum was a practicing clinical psychologist from 1988 to 1998, specializing in diversity training and multicultural organizational development. She received the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association, the highest honor presented by the APA, in 2014.

Tatum served as the ninth president of Spelman College, historically the oldest black women’s college in the United States, from 2002-2015. Her tenure at Spelman College included a 10-year campaign that increased alumni donation rates by 41 percent, raising $157.8 million and an expectation that Spelman would be recognized as one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country, which it is at this time.
Tatum retired in 2015 to focus on her work as an author, speaker and expert on issues related to racial identity.

All are invited to join Tatum for two free, public discussions on racial identity development and the challenges with having meaningful conversations on race. The events taking place Wednesday, September 13, are:
Why Are All the Black Kids Still Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? Conversations about Race in the 21st century – from 3-4 p.m. at Cornell University’s Sage Chapel. It is being co-sponsored by the Cornell’s Center for Teaching Excellence, Office of Engagement Initiatives, Office of Faculty Development and Diversity, Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives, and the Cornell University Graduate School. The discussion is free and open to the public, but RSVP is requested; visit CTE.Cornell.edu for more information.

A Fireside Chat with Dr. Beverly Tatum – from 7-8 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, located at 306 N. Aurora St. in Ithaca. Facilitated by Ithaca College’s Sean Eversly Bradwell, the discussion will be followed by a book signing. The event is being co-sponsored by CTE, OEI, the Village at Ithaca, First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, Equity Inclusion Leadership Council, Southside Community Center, Multicultural Resource Center, and Teacher-on-the-Go Consulting Group.

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Ilze Lemesis is project specialist for Outreach and Communication at Cornell’s Center For Teaching Excellence. East Hill Notes are published the second and fourth Mondays of each month. Dr. Tatum will guest on WHCU’s “All Things Equal” at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday, September 12, produced by Cornell Community Relations.