Exercise: Tatum and Skin Deep

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Tammy trying to tell her peers that she is an individual and she does not like when people judge her based on her skin color, when she actively tries to not judge people based on theirs.

Growing up, Tammy never really considered the idea of racism. She grew up in a small neighborhood, the majority of people being white. Similarly to the “Contact” stage defined by Tatum as having the feeling of “I’m just normal” in her work, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”, it was typical for Tammy to be surrounded by white people as a child and she was barely exposed to cultural and racial differences until she arrived at college (Tatum 93). In the beginning of the documentary, she openly admits, “I never really experienced how other people lived” confirming the idea that although she lived in an all white neighborhood, she was aware of her non-diverse childhood (Skin Deep 8:25). Despite her homogeneous upbringing, Tammy has been open to all cultures and races during her college experience and thus would be placed somewhere in the pseudo-independent stage by Tatum. She has become more aware of surrounding racism and the societal advantages she, as a white person, has. With contrasting views of her parents, she is actively trying change and open herself up to knew and at times, uncomfortable situations and ideas. During the final discussion, she states firmly to the group, “I’m an individual and I refuse to validate anyone who wants to judge me on the basis of my skin color,” displaying her openness to all different races and cultures (Skin Deep 27:44). That being said, Tammy struggles with taking action against the undeniable racism in American society and with the guilt that there is such advantages (Tatum 106). Tatum describes a person at this stage as having a “desire to escape” this guilt “by associating with people of color,” which is what Tammy attempts to do during the retreat with all of the different college students (Tatum 106).

Works Cited

Skin Deep. By Frances Reid, Sharon Wood, Sarah Cahill, Michael Chin, and Stephen McCarthy. Iris Films, 1995. Videocassette.

Tatum, Beverly Daniel. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? New York: Basic, 1999. Print.