Beverly Tatum wrote the book about race talk. She’s at it again with an urgency for our times.

The clinical psychologist wrote the best-seller in the 1990s and is now updating the text. On a recent visit to Seattle, she said she believes we need to have conversations about race in order to create better communities for everyone.

The black kids are still sitting together in the cafeteria — and the Asian kids and the white kids and every other group, too.

Twenty years ago, Beverly Tatum, a clinical psychologist and educator, wrote the book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race.”

She’s updated the best-seller for its 20th anniversary because the need for reasonable dialogue between people who disagree on volatile issues is more urgent now, if anything. Tatum drew sellout crowds at two Town Hall Seattle events Sunday, one at Westside School in West Seattle and the other at the Rainier Arts Center in the Columbia City neighborhood.

She asked members of the audience at Westside to raise their hands if they remember a race-related incident early in life, and then to call out their age at the time. Most people raised their hands and called out a range of ages. The biggest cluster was in single digits.

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Tatum asked for a show of hands of those who’d had a conversation about the incident with a caring adult. Very few hands went up. “You can’t solve a problem if you can’t talk about it,” she said.

The book’s title starts with a question she got often when she spoke at schools. She wrote the book to address that question and to put it in context with historical and developmental information and data on current circumstances to help people understand race in America.

The first version had significant impact on readers like Randy and Amy Hollinger, who are both educators and white. He’s an elementary-school teacher in Bellevue, and she is the assistant head of school at Westside. They were in line to have their old copy autographed, and both said the book helped expand their understanding of racism.

“I grew up in Florida with a biracial sister,” Randy told me. “I always thought for so long, I guess somewhat arrogantly, that I was really liberal and I had a liberal family and so, would I really need to talk about race, right?” But he learned we all have biases and blind spots.

What changed his perspective as a teacher and as a person was a trainer at the school in Florida…

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