stamped from the beginning by dr. ibram x. kendi was a phenomenal read. it admittedly took awhile for me to get through it. In my defense though, there is so much packed into this book that I’d always pause and go down a rabbit hole after every name or book or paper referenced. it’s a bit remarkable how expansive this book is honestly. if you have the time, this book is absolutely an educational necessity. there were multiple instances of me being shocked and a bit angered at the thought that my education in the united states glossed over A LOT.
here’s what I learned. Almost every well-known historical figure that people revere was a deeply racist figure, like way more racist than you can imagine.
george washington? racist.
thomas jefferson? racist.
abraham lincoln? super racist.
name a figure and chances are they didn’t view black people in a great light. additionally, dr. kendi doesn’t just highlight the problematic white people of history. he devotes whole chapters to various other black figures who adopted racist tactics to stay ahead. it was eye-opening to see just how pervasive and infectious these racist ideas and systems can be.
nevertheless, these ideas are as pernicious as ever, and boiled down, dr.kendi ascribes the struggle for racial equity to three competing groups: anti-racists, assimilationists, and segregationists. he employs a great metaphor to explain each group simply. A cop shoots an eleven-year old armed that had a knife in his pocket. anti-racists blame the cops for the death. segregationists blame the boy for his death, and assimilationists casts blame on both.
and this is not to say that humans and famous figures always fall cleanly into one of the three groups. humans are complicated beings and this book is an indictment of almost everyone, but it’s also a primer for what needs to be done. it somehow doesn’t feel as daunting or terrible when you know that even dr. martin luther king and barack obama and lyndon b. johnson and all these figures didn’t quite nail it. it’s a journey. life’s a journey, and figuring out what is right is part of that.
anyway, there’s so much more in this book too. If nothing else I have a whole new list of thinkers and authors and writers to investigate from the amazing angela davis to w.e.b. dubois and others. if you want to learn, this is the book for you. check out stamped from the beginning by dr. ibram x. kendi on bookshop.org below. (this is an affiliate link. i receive a small amount of compensation if you decide to purchase from this link.)
Originally published at https://robertpotter.co on October 28, 2020.