After you've torn through the new Michael Chabon novel or
the latest (and last) Harry Potter installment, the
university has another book to add to your summer reading
In an effort to help build a sense of community, the
Office of Student Life at Homewood has asked the incoming
freshman class and the entire Johns Hopkins community to
read Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the
Cafeteria? by psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum.
The book, a critically acclaimed best seller published
by Basic Books in 1997 and now in its fifth edition, offers
a perspective on racial identity development and examines
the black-white dynamic, along with the unique
circumstances of Latinos, American Indians, Asians and
Dorothy Sheppard, associate dean for student life,
said that the university's hope is that this summer reading
book will offer a shared experience for the incoming
freshmen and help foster mutual respect and a renewed
commitment to community here at Hopkins.
"We wanted to provide an activity so that coming in
all the freshmen will have this one experience in common
— a needed icebreaker at the beginning of the term,"
Sheppard said. "And we wanted others here to read the book
to share that experience with these students."
She said this particular book was chosen due to its
high relevance to diversity issues on campus, brought to
the forefront last fall by a fraternity-party invitation
that was considered by many to be racially insensitive and
that sparked a loud reaction and much debate.
"What happened in the fall left some folks here
shattered and brought a lot of these issues of race to the
surface," Sheppard said. "We are hoping this [reading
project] will also help improve community relations by
extending the dialogue in this area."
As part of the experience, facilitated discussions on
Tatum's book — led by staff, faculty and residential
advisers — will be offered during freshman
orientation week. Sheppard also said that her office is in
talks with Tatum about coming to the campus sometime in
September to lead a discussion.
The book is available in major bookstores and in most
libraries, including the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at
To offer to lead one of the discussion sessions,
contact Sheppard at