The National Book Award winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society.
Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America -- it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.
In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.
As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities.
In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
From the Puritans to the present, historian Ibram X. Kendi surveys centuries of racist ideas and policies in the United States. Kendi frames his narrative around five American intellectuals: slavery-endorsing preacher Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W. E. B. DuBois, and activist Angela Davis. The author uses these public figures’ words and actions to illuminate how racist thought contributes to hot-button issues like standardized tests and mass incarceration. A fascinating and urgent read, Stamped from the Beginning won the National Book Award for nonfiction the year after Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me took home the prize—and it’s just as essential for understanding racism’s impact on American life.
Ignore the bad reviews
All the 1 stars are from angry White people
This book will probably make you uncomfortable. It might even make you angry. If so, read it twice. You need it. I did.
The collective political will and support for equal rights put forth by all of America over the centuries, has been half hearted at best. Contrastingly, the racist agenda and its permutations has been a sinister subversion that at many moments, unwittingly had too many Americans in quiet support of it. Ibran X. Kendi does an Encyclopedic level effort of detailing all of the contradictory and missed opportunities in the story of America’s reckoning with racism; from Slavery, to Abolition, to Civil Rights, up to now.
I have long been perplexed at why America will not address the root cause of a problem and fix things once and correctly. Between Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste” and this book, it is clear that GREED and HATE fuel a self interest towards racist policies. Blinding impediments to America truly becoming a land of the free and equitably prosperous. Kendo’s use of a “Tour Guide” through various periods of history serves as a strong anchoring point through the various turning points in race relations in America. Through this narrative approach you see ultimately that all the facts are there to eradicate racism but the self interest of those in power keeps it in place.
In truth, the Black American experience is their own. It was hoisted upon me and others based simply on skin color. No matter your own unique designs on life, you are forever in a box. Through time, you try and transfigure all of your own qualities and perspectives it into some odd amalgamation of experiences. That very confused state speaks to the innate clumsiness and dehumanization of race discrimination. All context and history is stripped from a person. The “perceived” story is pulled from a file folder bearing the matching label for their skin color. None of these generalizations and marginalization goes away until the self interest of those in power aligns with an antiracist vision.