Stamped from the Beginning is a redefining history of anti-Black racist ideas that dramatically changes our understanding of the causes and extent of racist thinking itself.
** Winner of the US National Book Award**
Its deeply researched and fast-moving narrative chronicles the journey of racist ideas from fifteenth-century Europe to present-day America through the lives of five major intellectuals – Puritan minister Cotton Mather, President Thomas Jefferson, fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, brilliant scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis – showing how these ideas were developed, disseminated and eventually enshrined in American society.
Contrary to popular conception, it reveals that racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Instead, they were devised and honed by some of the most brilliant minds of each era, including anti-slavery and pro-civil rights advocates, who used their gifts and intelligence wittingly or otherwise to rationalize and justify existing racial disparities in everything from wealth to health. Seen in this piercing new light, racist ideas are shown to be the result, not the cause, of inequalities that stretch back over centuries, brought about ultimately through economic, political and cultural self-interest.
Stamped from the Beginning offers compelling new answers to some of the most troubling questions of our time. In forcing us to reconsider our most basic assumptions about racism and also about ourselves, it leads us to a true understanding on which to build a real foundation for change.