Can We Talk About Diversity?

Beverly Daniel Tatum speaks at "Cultivating a Diverse and Inclusive Community: A Diversity Symposium at Swarthmore College," discussing society's discomfort with conversations on race and privilege. She engages the audience in conversations on childhood perceptions of difference, touching on issues of race, disability, gender, and sexual orientation, emphasizing that in the absence of information, children will draw their own conclusions about topics that trigger discomfort. She answers her lecture's question - "Can We Talk About Diversity?" - with a candid "not easily," but cites the importance of continuing to discuss difference in creating a more accepting and diverse community. To create social change, Tatum notes the necessity of breaking the cycle of socialization that reinforces a quietism surrounding topics of difference, challenging audience members to ask themselves how they can stand as allies with those who may feel disenfranchised or left out of a larger picture.

Tatum is the president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., the country's oldest historically black college for women. She received an M.A. from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, as well as an M.D. in religious studies from Hartford Seminary. She has authored two books, "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" and other Conversations about Race and Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community, as well as numerous articles on issues of race.