Synopses & Reviews
FINALIST for the National Book Award 2016
Americans like to insist that we are living in a postracial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, racist ideas in this country 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 antiBlack racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W. E. B. Du Bois to legendary antiprison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and procivil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.
As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation's racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them and in the process, gives us reason to hope.
"Both a penetrating treatise and a wonderfully accessible work of intellectual history, Stamped from the Beginning reveals the heritage of ideas behind the modern dialectic of race-denial and race-obsession. By historicizing our entrenched logic of racial difference, Kendi shows why "I don't see color" and other professions of post-racialism remain inexorable alibis for white supremacy. Stamped from the Beginning has done the cause of anti-racism a great service." Russell Rickford, author of We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination
"An accomplished history of racist thought and practice in the United States from the Puritans to the present In this tour de force, Kendi explores the history of racist ideas and their connection with racist practices across American history. Racism is the enduring scar on the American consciousness. In this ambitious, magisterial book, Kendi reveals just how deep that scar cuts and why it endures, its barely subcutaneous pain still able to flare." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[An] engrossing and relentless intellectual history of prejudice in America. The greatest service Kendi [provides] is the ruthless prosecution of American ideas about race for their tensions, contradictions and unintended consequences." Washington Post
About the Author
Ibram X. Kendi (formerly Ibram Rogers) is an advanced assistant professor of Africana Studies at SUNY-Albany and the author of the award-winning book, The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965andndash;1972. Kendi contributes a weekly blog for Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, the second largest higher education trade publication in the country, and writes for the TheRoot.com. Before becoming a professor, Kendi was a journalist, publishing hundreds of articles in newspapers and magazines, including USA Today, Philadelphia Weekly, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Virginian-Pilot, Tallahassee Democrat, Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Sentinel, and the Press-Register. In 2013, he was awarded the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship.