Stamped from the beginning The definitive history of racist ideas in America

Ibram X. Kendi

Book - 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 anti-Bla...ck 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." -- Publisher's description

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Subjects
Published
New York : Nation Books [2016]
Language
English
Physical Description
viii, 582 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references(pages 516-561) and index.
ISBN
9781568584638
1568584636
Main Author
Ibram X. Kendi (author)
  • Part I. Cotton Mather
  • Human hierarchy
  • Origins of racist ideas
  • Coming to America
  • Saving souls, not bodies
  • Black hunts
  • Great awakening
  • Part II. Thomas Jefferson
  • Enlightenment
  • Black exhibit
  • Created equal
  • Uplift suasion
  • Big bottoms
  • Colonization
  • Part III. William Lloyd Garrison
  • Gradual equality
  • Imbruted or civilized
  • Soul
  • The impending crisis
  • History's emancipator
  • Ready for freedom?
  • Reconstructing slavery
  • Reconstructing blame
  • Part IV. W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Renewing the south
  • Southern horrors
  • Black Judases
  • Great white hopes
  • The Birth of a Nation
  • Media suasion
  • Old deal
  • Freedom brand
  • Massive resistance
  • Part V. Angela Davis
  • The act of civil rights
  • Black power
  • Law and order
  • Reagan's drugs
  • New Democrats
  • New Republicans
  • 99.9 percent the same
  • The extraordinary Negro
  • Epilogue.
Review by Booklist Reviews

This heavily researched yet easily readable volume explores the roots and the effects of racism in America. Kendi, assistant professor of African American history at the University of Florida, offers this history through chronologically arranged sections based on the lives of five figures from American history: socially and politically influential Puritan minister Cotton Mather; President Thomas Jefferson; prominent abolitionist and social reformer William Lloyd Garrison; civil rights activist and author W. E. B. Du Bois; and political activist and writer Angela Davis. Kendi posits that there is a three-way argument happening between segregationists, who blame black people for racial disparities; antiracists, who blame discrimination; and assimilationists, who think everyone is at fault. 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. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

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, beginning with Biblical stories of the curse of Ham and Aristotle's theory that climate explained why black people were dark in color. In his history of ideas about "race" and alleged black inferiority, Kendi (African American history, Univ. of Florida) examines sources as diverse as Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, and E. Franklin Frazier. The author blasts not only traditional racists who insisted on immutable biological inferiority, but also well-meaning assimilationists, both black and white, who attributed black inferiority to the "imbruting" consequences of slavery, matriarchal families, or dysfunctional ghetto culture. Writing from a "left of center" perspective, Kendi praises Angela Davis while excoriating neoconservatives and the likes of Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom ("Few whites are now racists"), John McWhorter, and color-blind racism. Progressive antiracists will love this book, while those on the Right will hate it. A great companion to Winthrop Jordan's White over Black (CH, Apr'68), at 511 pages it will be difficult to get students to read it in full, but intrepid readers will find it both worthwhile and extraordinary. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. --W. Glasker, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden Wayne C. Glasker Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden Wayne C. Glasker Choice Reviews 54:03 November 2016 Copyright 2016 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Kendi (African American history, Univ. of Florida; The Black Campus Movement) argues that deep beliefs in differences between blacks and whites reach back beyond America's colonial beginnings, and in order to explain the disparities that have persisted in white supremacy and black subordination, suggests that three distinct sets of voices—segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists—have defined the dominant opinions. Segregationists and assimilationists represent obverse sides of the same coin in Kendi's view. Both accept the stamp of blackness as inferiority: one maintaining that it is biological and cannot be eradicated, the other contending it is behavioral and can be uprooted. Antiracists have rejected the concept by embracing human differences. Using examples ranging from the 1600s to the present, the author exposes the ideas that have formed the foundation of racial discrimination, employing as tour guides prominent Americans such as Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Angela Davis. VERDICT 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.—Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe [Page 112]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A comprehensive history of anti-black racism focuses on the lives of five major players in American history, including Cotton Mather and Thomas Jefferson, and highlights the debates that took place between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A comprehensive history of anti-black racism focuses on the lives of five major players in American history and highlights the debates that took place between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and anti-racists.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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.Praise for Stamped from the Beginning:"We often describe a wonderful book as 'mind-blowing' or 'life-changing' but I've found this rarely to actually be the case. I found both descriptions accurate for Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning... I will never look at racial discrimination again after reading this marvellous, ambitious, and clear-sighted book." - George Saunders, Financial Times, Best Books of 2017"Ambitious, well-researched and worth the time of anyone who wants to understand racism." --Seattle Times"A deep (and often disturbing) chronicling of how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society." --The AtlanticWinner of the 2016 National Book Award for NonfictionA New York Times BestsellerA Washington Post BestsellerOn President Obama's Black History Month Recommended Reading ListFinalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for NonfictionNamed one of the Best Books of the Year by the Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Review of Books, The Root, Buzzfeed, Bustle, and Entropy