Stamped From the Beginning

Stamped From the Beginning

The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Book - 2016
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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.
Publisher: New York : Nation Books, 2016.
ISBN: 9781568584638
Characteristics: viii, 582 pages ; 25 cm


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National Book Award winner, 2016.

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Gina_Vee Jul 19, 2020

This is a history book we all deserved in school and higher ed and probably did not get. I can't think of a single human being who doesn't need to read this book.

Jan 22, 2018

Fascinating and illuminating history of racist ideas in the U.S., from all quarters. A very convincing argument throughout for his thesis that it is racist policies that bring forth racist ideas to justify them, and that hate and ignorance are an outgrowth of racist ideas--not the other way around. Highly recommend for anyone interested in a clear-eyed look at how racial oppression has functioned in the U.S., and for insight into the ways of working against it that are most likely to have an effect.

Oct 21, 2017

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and am so grateful to this author for the work represented within its covers. I don't read non-fiction easily, and this book covers very difficult territory in an accessible way. It's very hard to know these things, but essential to the project of healing our nation's bloody and horrific past.

Most useful, for me, was the way the author traced THREE strands of thought - segregationist-racist, assimilationist-racist, and anti-racist - from the middle ages forward. It helped me, as a person raised 'white', to understand how to think about people of color who hold what seem to me to be very racist opinions, or who do what appear to me to be completely unhelpful things. I am not the one to assess or to rebuke/correct these folks, but I do want to understand. This book, by identifying, describing, and contextualizing assimilationist-racism and 'uplift suasion' as strategies embraced by people of every sort, enables me to continue working on becoming ever more anti-racist without being distracted or side-tracked.

Racism continues to waste the humanity, intelligence, talent, and potential of large portions of our nation's population. It does so violently and inexcusably. This book offers real assistance to the project of ending this violent, inexcusable waste.

Jul 26, 2017

Would have easily been a 4 (because of all the research that the author put into it; it's really impressive), if the author hadn't included as much of his own conjecture about past events (often to fill in details to make the scene more vivid; sometimes to say that the critics of a book were more people who hadn't read the book, etc.). At the very end of the book, he talks about how he was trying to make a history book that was more accessible to normal people (i.e. not just historians), and I'm wondering if this is why he did so.

Jan 19, 2017

Excellent up until Angela Davis. Really loved the chapters on Cotton Mather, Jefferson, didn't know a thing about Garrison, and Du Bois, and I didn't know much about Angela Davis, either, but she seemed kind of peripheral to his point. I read only half of her chapter. But the rest of the book is fascinating.

LPL_DirectorBrad Nov 05, 2016

Dr. Kendi's book is a brilliant distillation of racist ideas in America. Impeccably researched and thoroughly readable, Kendi starts at the beginning (even bringing in Aristotle!) and describes the development and evolution of racist ideas from the precolonial era up to current times. This is historical writing and research at its best. Truly deserved of being a National Book Award finalist. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

LPL_ShirleyB Sep 24, 2016


Jun 27, 2016

This was the National Book Award winner - In the 1960’s, the Democrats passed the Civil Rights bills (Blacks allowed in public accommodations and allowed to vote in the southern states). Using white resentment, Nixon/Agnew implemented the Southern Strategy, which turned the South Republican. The strategy also convinced northern whites that the Republicans would keep Blacks out of white schools, out of many factories and businesses, and out of white neighborhoods. This book is described as “the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” These ideas basically brainwashed ignorant whites to believe that Blacks were not actually of the same species as whites, but closer to the species of apes. These ideas were not extinguished by the Founding Fathers as Tea Party Michelle Bachmann suggested but actually promoted by American whites from 1619 until today. Even in late 20th century, Charles Murray wrote “The Bell Curve,” which promoted the idea that Blacks were in last place in American society, not because of 450 years of white exploitation and discrimination, but because of inferior genes. The book is sickening, but hopefully a few Whites will begin to face the truth. It will be interesting to see if a new paperback edition comments on the alt-right white supremacy/anti-Semitic anti-Muslim ideology of the new Trump presidency.


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