Length: 608 pages
Audiobook Length: 19 hours and 8 minutes
First Published: 2016
The author of the bestselling How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi has written the top book on the history of racist ideas in America. Covering from the Puritans and the Founding Fathers all the way to the civil rights movement and modern-day activists, Kendi shows that racist ideas and discriminatory practices have permeated American history since its inception.
If you are interested in understanding race relations in America, Stamped from the Beginning is a groundbreaking comprehensive study of the history of racist ideas in America. Showing step-by-step how racial progress is intertwined with the evolution of racist ideas, Kendi’s book would be an excellent study for high school or college. “Study” being the operative word for Stamped from the Beginning is a dense read that begs for you to take notes. Some sections read like a history textbook, overflowing with names and dates, while much of the middle of the book settled into a narrative nonfiction style that was more accessible, though still taking long time to get through.
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.
Quotes from Stamped From the Beginning
The only thing wrong with Black people is that we think something is wrong with Black people.
The principal function of racist ideas in American history has been the suppression of resistance to racial discrimination and its resulting racial disparities. The beneficiaries of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration have produced racist ideas of Black people being best suited for or deserving of the confines of slavery, segregation, or the jail cell. Consumers of these racist ideas have been led to believe there is something wrong with Black people, and not the policies that have enslaved, oppressed, and confined so many Black people.
Time and again, racist ideas have not been cooked up from the boiling pot of ignorance and hate. Time and again, powerful and brilliant men and women have produced racist ideas in order to justify the racist policies of their era, in order to redirect the blame for their era’s racial disparities away from those policies and onto Black people.
About Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi is a historian, author, professor, journalist, and activist. His works include The Black Campus Movement, Stamped from the Beginning, Stamped, and How to Be an Antiracist. Kendi is the founding director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University and a professor of history and founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Visit the author’s website →