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. 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 anti–prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro–civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN NONFICTION
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 anti-Black 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 anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil 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.
Ibram X. Kendi is an assistant professor of African American history at the University of Florida. He authored the award-winning book, The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972. He has received research fellowships, grants, and visiting appointments from a variety of universities, foundations, professional associations, and libraries, including the American Historical Association, Library of Congress, National Academy of Education, Spencer Foundation, Lyndon B. Johnson Library & Museum, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, Brown University, Princeton University, Duke University, University of Chicago, and UCLA. Before entering academia, he worked as a journalist. His writings appeared in The Virginian-Pilot, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Philadelphia Weekly, and the Orlando Sentinel, among other publications. As a professor, he has contributed pieces to a number of publications, including Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Root.com. He lives in Florida.
"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, contradiction and unintended consequences."Washington Post
"A deep (and often disturbing) chronicling of how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society."The Atlantic
"Ambitious...Kendi bases his exhaustive study in one central thought: Racist ideas...have historically sprung from racist policies, and self-preservation of the ruling class. The policy leads to the ideology, not vice versa."Dallas Morning News
"This book should be on every young leader's bookshelf. It's not pretty, but the truth often isn't."Forbes Online
"Self-proclaimed as a definitive history of racist ideas in the US, this exhaustive, encyclopedic opus lives up to that claim. Kendi's mighty tome is breathtaking in its scope.... Both worthwhile and extraordinary.... Essential."CHOICE
"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
"I honestly wish every American would read this book, especially people who haven't been exposed to the history of blatant, transparent racism in our public policy."
Chicago Review of Books, Best Books of 2016
"Perhaps the most significant book of 2016, this National Book Award winner is a lucid, highly readable look at the origins of racist ideas in the United States."
The Daily Kos
"This heavily researched yet easily readable volume explores the roots and the effects of racism in America. The narrative smoothly weaves throughout history, culminating in the declaration that as much as we'd like it to be, America today is nowhere near the 'postracial' country that the media declared following the election of Barack Obama in 2008. The hope here is that by studying and remembering the lessons of history, we may be able to move forward to an equitable society."Booklist
"Kendi's provocative egalitarian argument combines prodigious reading and research with keen insights into the manipulative power of racist ideologies that suppress the recognition of diversity. This is a must for serious readers of American history, politics, or social thought."Library Journal
"A work as prodigious as the subtitle implies.... Had Kendi only provided history, Stamped from the Beginning would be a meaningful contribution to the literature, but it is so much more. It a call for all Americans to look inward."Albany Times Union
"A staggering intellectual history of racism in America that is both rigorous and ...readable."New Republic
"In his relentless odyssey through the making of America's particular brand of prejudice...Kendi challenges our assumptions about racism by exposing the development of racist ideas-and their connection to racist actions and policies throughout our history."Stephenie Livingston, University of Florida
"Stamped from the Beginning is a history of how racist ideas are built, and how they are built to last. Understanding this history is essential if we want to have any hope of progress. This book will forever change the way we think about race."Tour?, MSNBC contributor and author of Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness
"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, Associate Professor, Cornell University, and author of We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination
"Ibram Kendi is an important new voice in African American intellectual and social history. This book, an intellectual history of racist ideas, promises to break important new ground for scholarly and general audiences interested in the construction of racism in America."Peniel E. Joseph, author of Stokely: A Life and Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour
"Richly sourced and engaging, Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning is a highly accessible yet provocative study that seeks to complicate our understanding of racist ideas and the forces that produce them."Yohuru Williams, Professor of History and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Fairfield University
"Stamped from the Beginning delivers a timely and bold corrective to the history of racist and anti-racist ideas that explodes our understanding of the root of anti-black violence as we know it today. Kendi's deft analysis of key thinkers from Cotton Mather to Angela Davis illustrates how racial thought, specifically debates about racial difference, take shape across space and time and influence racial policies and the persistence of racial discrimination. This book is a must read for those interested in working to unearth the foundational ideas and practices that hinder true racial progress."Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, Associate Professor, Brown University, and author of Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil
"In his ambitious, illuminating, and engaging book, Ibram X. Kendi seamlessly assembles sources from Cotton Mather to Angela Davis; the Great Awakening to Black Lives Matter; the Birth of a Nation to Hip Hop culture, to show how not only race but racist ideas are at the center of American thought."
Paula J. Giddings, EA Woodson Professor, Smith College, and author of Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching
"Blending deep research and analysis with a powerfully intimate and personal voice, Kendi...renders this work of intellectual history as compelling as the juiciest biography."Los Angeles Times
"An intricate look at the history of race in the U.S., arguing that many well-meaning American progressives inadvertently operate on belief systems tinged with a racist heritage."TIME
"Ambitious, well-researched and worth the time of anyone who wants to understand racism."
"Kendi upends many commonly held beliefs about how racism works, exploring the ideas and thinkers behind our most intractable social and cultural problem."Boston Globe
"An altogether remarkable thesis on history, but, in ways that are both moving and immediately painful, it also reverberates with the post-election autopsy we're all conducting right now... Stamped from the Beginning is a riveting (and often rivetingly written) work, well deserving of the National Book Award."The Stranger
"The National Book Awards show the way toward the America we want, not the one we're getting."New York Magazine
"Kendi has done something that's damn near impossible: write a book about racism that breaks new ground, while being written in a way that's accessible to the nonacademic. If you've ever been interested in how racist ideas spread throughout the United States, this is the book to read."The Root
"Kendi is able to decisively quell the arguments that racism is a bygone byproduct of ignorance...Kendi's writing style is plainspoken, detail-oriented, and straightforward...In the midst of leaving Jefferson and his fellows open to judgment, Kendi leaves plenty of room for self-questioning, and for drawing connections between the racist apologetics of the past and those of the present. The process makes for a compelling, thoroughly enlightening, unsettling, and necessary read."Vox