The Arlington Reads Together community read program launched in 2003 as a way of bringing Arlington together through literature. Last summer, the ART selection committee chose Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum as the community read for 2021, and here you’ll find a host of related programming including a special event with Dr. Tatum. The ART calendar of events offers a wide variety of opportunities to address issues, understand differences and create connections.
Copies of the book are available via the Minuteman Library Network catalog. Thanks to a grant from the Arlington Libraries Foundation additional copies of the book are available as digital downloads via the Digital Collection and Libby app.
Arlington Reads Together is supported annually by the Diversity Task Group of Envision Arlington, the Arlington Libraries Foundation, and the Friends of the Robbins Library. This year we also welcome the Arlington Educational Foundation as a major supporter.
A Conversation on Race and Racism with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum
Zoom event, register at https://conversationonraceandracism.eventbrite.com
Sunday, March 21
3:00 p.m. Join Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum for a moderated discussion on race and racism based on her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria. Borrow a copy of this year’s community book choice by stopping by the Robbins Library lobby during drop-in pick-up hours. Support for this program comes from the Arlington Libraries Foundation and the Arlington Education Foundation.
PLUG iN to TRUE STORY THEATER: “Who am I? And how did I find out” Sharing stories of identity
Zoom program, register at https://pluggedin-03-03-21.eventbrite.com
Wednesday, March 3
In this collaborative workshop with True Story Theater, you will get to explore your core identities, connect to others who are both similar and different from you, and make new discoveries. In small groups, we’ll look at the identities we were born with, the identities we choose, and those placed on us by the world–identities such as race, religion, gender identity, societal role, and much more. When do your identities give you a sense of belonging–and when do they create a feeling of uncomfortable “otherness?” When have you broken through preconceptions or judgments placed on yourself and others? Why do we take time to look at our own identities in pursuit of greater racial and social justice?
Between the small group sessions, True Story Theater will invite volunteer audience members to share their experiences and feelings. On the spot, the performers will respectfully and creatively embody the emotional essence of what is shared, using movement, music, and drama. Throughout, whether you take a risk to share or prefer to simply watch and listen, chances are you will be moved (maybe even to laughter and tears), and leave with a greater appreciation for yourself and a greater understanding of others in the wider community. Read more about True Story Theater and Playback Theatre.
Everyone Belongs: METCO in Arlington, A Conversation with Margaret Thomas
Zoom event, register at https://artmetco.eventbrite.com
Monday, March 8
Jillian Harvey, Town of Arlington’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director, hosts a conversation with Margaret Credle Thomas, Director of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) Program in Arlington. Thomas has led the program for the past 8 years and has gained significant insight into the experiences of students of color in town. Thomas and Harvey will discuss the history of the METCO program, its impact in Arlington, and Thomas’ unique role in leading the program and supporting students of color, as well as the experiences Boston-resident students face navigating the challenges and concept of belonging to a community–as an outsider.
SpeakOUT: Intersecting Queer Identities
Zoom event, register at https://artspeakout.eventbrite.com
Thursday, March 11
7:00 p.m. The Robbins Library Queer Book Group/Social is proud to host a panel discussion where LGBTQ+ people of color will share personal stories exploring the intersections of their identities. SpeakOUT Boston tells the stories of LGBTQ+ lives to raise awareness and create safer spaces for LGBTQ+ people by opening up a dialogue with its audiences. Support for this program comes from Arlington’s Rainbow Commission.
The Friends of Robbins Library Present: Tim Hall, Trust the Process
Facebook Live, also airing on ACMi’s Public Channel
Sunday, March 28
Tim Hall brings you Trust The Process – performance about creative expression, self love, and artistic exploration. Tim Hall is an award winning musician and performance poet from Detroit, MI, now residing in Boston. His poetry draws inspiration from his lived experiences – charting the nuances of blackness, masculinity, and the beauties of life. He’s an Assistant Professor in the Professional Music Department at Berklee College of Music, won Session Musician of the Year by the Boston Music Awards 2020, received a 2019 Artist Luminary Award from local youth arts non-profit Zumix, and was honored by WBUR’s Artery 25 as 1 of 25 millennials of color impacting Arts and Culture in Boston. Hall’s virtual performance will be followed by a live Q&A.
For Children, Teens, and Families
Quest: An Intimate Portrait of an African-American Family
Movie event, register: https://questmoviescreening.eventbrite.com
Thursday, March 18
Beginning at the dawn of the Obama presidency, Christopher “Quest” Rainey, and his wife, Christine’a “Ma Quest” raise a family while nurturing a community of hip hop artists in their home music studio. It’s a safe space where all are welcome, but this creative sanctuary can’t always shield them from the strife that grips their neighborhood. Targeted for Grades 6 and up and their families.
What Is Racism?: A Workshop for Kids With Wee the People
Zoom event, register at https://weethepeoplewhatisracism320.eventbrite.com
Saturday, March 20
Kids notice a LOT — including skin color. They sense that it matters, and they have questions about how and why. Together we will explore how racism isn’t just one thing, but a system with many parts working together. Through activities, kids will learn how they can help challenge and disrupt these systems. Geared for kids ages 6-10. This program is supported by the Russell Fund.
Book Groups and Discussions
We thank Dr. Tatum for providing a discussion guide: beverly-daniel-tatum-book-group-discussion-guide-1 for the community. Download a copy for yourself or your book group.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting In the Cafeteria Together, The Introduction
Zoom event, email email@example.com for meeting link
Thursday, March 4
Join this roundtable discussion focusing on the introduction to the ART book. Dr. Tatum quotes James Baldwin “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” In this discussion we hope to discuss questions about race and society as these conversations are often hard to begin.
What Questions Do We Have?
Zoom event, email firstname.lastname@example.org for meeting link
Tuesday, March 16
Join us for a roundtable discussion of Dr. Tatum’s book before her visit to the community. At this meeting, we’ll discuss the book, and think about follow up questions to pose to Dr. Tatum during her visit on March 21.
Wrap Up Discussion: Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?
Zoom event, register at https://artwhoami.eventbrite.com
Thursday, March 25
Facilitated book discussion with Arlington resident B. Joanna Chen. Participants will be prompted to reflect on their own identities and share their takeaways from Dr. Tatum’s work. B. Joanna Chen is a long-time library lover and a more recent Arlington resident. She holds a bachelor’s in English and Sociology with a minor in Inequality Studies and Asian American Studies from Cornell University. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, where her work focused on identity, family history, belonging, and what it means to occupy–and broaden–interstitial spaces. As the LeadBoston Program Associate at YW Boston, an organization dedicated to empowering women and eliminating racism, she supports YW’s inclusive leadership program. Sponsored by the Arlington Human Rights Commission.