Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Stamped from the Beginning is the winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction. The book is unflinching in showing how racist ideas have been accepted and repeated throughout US history by everyone, from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln, from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, even from Frederick Douglass to W.E.B. Du Bois (whose intellectual journey from a “double-consciousness of racist and antiracist ideas” to “a single consciousness of antiracism” is one of the book’s most powerful arcs). In particular, the book is brilliant at identifying and skewering what Kendi classifies as assimilationist ideas — ideas often employed by well-meaning people in the service of causes as noble as the abolition of slavery, yet racist ideas all the same since they have been predicated on the belief that Black people are somehow inferior or to blame for their own oppression.