KPFA's Abolish Racism Audio Collection

Ibram X. Kendi in Oakland

Ibram X. Kendi 5-4-2017 in Oakland | Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Stamped from the Beginning is a history of how racist ideas are built, and how they are built to last. In this deeply researched, provocative narrative, Kendi offers a comprehensive history of anti-Black racist ideas their origins in fifteenth-century Portugal, their arrival in England in the mid-sixteenth century, and their blossoming in the United States, where they became the founding principles of our nations institutions and guarantors of its power. Contrary to popular conceptions, these ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Instead, they were devised and honed by some of the most brilliant minds of each era, men like John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. In an effort to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and disparities, assimilationists and segregationists alike created, debated, popularized, and defended racist ideas in the modern era, dictating the discussion on race for four hundred years.

Kendi narrates this history through the lives of five major characters in American history: early Americas most prolific and influential intellectual, Puritan minister Cotton Mather; the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson; fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison; brilliant scholar and thinker W.E.B. Du Bois; and legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis. Their rich and surprising stories offer a window into the debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists that have marked Black Americans for centuries.

As Kendi shows, racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, but they are also easily discredited. In shedding much-needed light on the long, dark history of racist ideas, Kendi offers us the tools we need to expose themand 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, 19651972

Share This