Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Paperback)
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.
About the Author
Ibram X. Kendi is a #1 New York Times-bestselling author, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is an Ideas Columnist at the Atlantic and a correspondent with CBS News. He is the author of five books, including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction; the New York Times bestsellers How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, coauthored with Jason Reynolds; and Antiracist Baby.
"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."
"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
"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
"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."—Touré, 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
"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
"Kendi's unusually original and groundbreaking analysis is the product of an almost clinical modus operandi. First, he formulates a clear and simple definition of what constitutes a racist idea ("any concept that regards one racial group as inferior or superior to another racial group in any way"). He then unflinchingly applies that definition to the work of individual historical figures and to the ideas on race, slavery, segregation and integration that prevailed at various stages in US history. Like a laboratory scientist, he then interprets the results."—The Guardian
"One thing is sure. Stamped from the Beginning will be read by future generations. It has the potential to become a classic, must-read chronicle in the vast historiography on antiblack racist thought in the United States."—Public Books