Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” as Want to Read:
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  2,272 Ratings  ·  487 Reviews
Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America--more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of ...more
Kindle Edition, 594 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Nation Books (first published March 8th 2016)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Stamped from the Beginning, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Unnikrishnan It is a slow burning rage which gets built up with the author's quiet and well-researched prose. Not the kind of rage which explodes and putters out…moreIt is a slow burning rage which gets built up with the author's quiet and well-researched prose. Not the kind of rage which explodes and putters out quick. This is the kind of rage which will inform Americans on finally effecting the changes in policy which have oppressed African Americans for hundreds of years. This book does not gift you a helpless and speechless rage in the face of the racists and white supremacists, it is the kind of informed rage which will give you the tools to break down all the facile arguments built by racists, of the supposed superiority of whites and the supposed inferiority of blacks. This is the kind of rage which burns up all the silly reasons for American interventionism abroad, when many of its own citizens are denied the freedom for which Americans die in far-away lands. Your war-zone for freedom is not syria or afghanistan but it is right there in your streets and courts.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
The insights and understanding shared with us in this dazzling work of erudition and scholarship entirely make up for its enormous length. One wonders how it can be that such a book has not been written to date, the need for such a work obvious from the moment Kendi begins to trace the evolution of America’s history of racist ideas, from the pre-revolutionary settlers and the sermons of Cotton Mather right through Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois, and Angela Davis. By the ...more
Paul Bryant
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What’s this – 5 stars yet still marked as “to read”? Please explain yourself!

I was talking today with a friend of mine who just joined Goodreads and he raised the question of books which are too difficult to review. These are usually non-fiction books which are so crammed with ideas that to review them properly you would need 5 closely typed pages, and it must be admitted, most GR users will be dozing off by the end of page one, even your dearest GR friends. (I did suggest that he include a gif
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author posits that there are really 3 sides to the debate of racial disparities existing and persisting. The three sides are segregationists, assimilationists and antiracists. His definition of racism,i.e., the adoption of racist ideas is a simple one, and as such you will see some famous people that will surprise you to be labeled as racist at points in their career. W.E.B. DuBois is certainly a name most readers would never associate with being a "racist" during his long illustrious career ...more
*2016 National Book Award for Non-Fiction*

Ibrahm Kendi's work is evident of a great deal of scholarly research. I felt that I had to commit myself to giving it at least the same treatment. Scientist that I am, I found myself leafing through his references, pulling out more morsels of truth. It wasn't enough to pour over the pages of this well written tome. Twenty two pages of outline notes later, I feel as if I still could revisit this work as there is still more intellectual meat to be consum
Every American should read this book. A true tour de force, an absolute scorched-earth history and reassessment of racism in the United States. I read a lot of American history and I read a lot, talk about a lot, try to learn a lot about the role of racism in American history and the present, and I was absolutely floored by what this book showed me that I did not know and had not considered. Moreover I was impressed with the author's interweaving of issues such as sexism and heterosexism. Very e ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably closer to 3.5 stars, but this is worth rounding up
This book goes wide (not deep) on a very important topic, and should be required reading for everyone. That phrase gets thrown around a lot when talking about "important books", but I'm seriously for serious here. Kendi has written THE comprehensive book about the history of racism in America, tracing it all the way from its roots in the 16th century through modern day, and he covers it from top to bottom, hitting on every major point you can probably think of along the way. It's an invaluable r ...more
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fooled by racist ideas, I did not fully realize that the only thing wrong with Black people is that we think something is wrong with Black people. I did not fully realize that the only thing extraordinary about White people is that they think something is extraordinary about White people.
If ever a book deserved the National Book Award...
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Udeni by: Christy
"Stamped from the Beginning" is an ambitious and (necessarily) lengthy history of racist ideas towards black Amercians. Despite its length (over 500 pages), it is a compelling read, brimming over with surprising facts, laser-sharp analysis, and a clear argument.

Kendi argues that racist policies are promoted through racist ideas by powerful men who wish to maintain control of their wealth. Discrimination is not caused by ignorance and hate. Racial discrimination leads to racist ideas, which lead
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The popular and glorious version of history saying that abolitionists and civil rights activists have steadily educated and persuaded away American racist ideas and policies sounds great. But it has never been the complete story, or even the main story. Politicians passed the civil and voting rights measures in the 1860s and the 1960s primarily out of political and economic self-interest—not an educational or moral awakening. And these laws did not spell the doom of racist policies. The racist
I read this because I am teaching The Fire Next Time.

It's one of those books that I find hard to review. I think everyone in America should read it, and if I had a magic wand or the power of the Force, I would make everyone read it. But writing that sounds flippant despite it being true.

What Kendi (with the aid of his wife he thanks quite a bit) does is trace the development of Racist ideas in America. He does this in part by challenging the standard definations of some words and terms. This is
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ibram Kendi's Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America is a monumental book. It covers over 300 years of racist beliefs about Black people from 1635 to the present day. Kendi tells this history in a smart way by dividing it up into five parts. Each part has a central figure who has expressed through their lifetimes racist, assimilationist and antiracist views (Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois, and Angela Davis). The five ...more
John Bohnert
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book shows just how racist America is and has been throughout its history.
Literary Chic
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enlightening and probably controversial book.

The author presented many arguments and a thorough history of America’s racism. The work was very well done. My only argument was there were a few facts set forth for which the author did not give proofs or footnotes. While he did an excellent job presenting his work and I tend to agree with the majority of what he said, a proofed statistic would have made his argument stronger in places.

If you are a reader who believes we live in a post racial
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
This book is phenomenal. It was certainly a challenge for me to read - not only because I am not very familiar with the history covered in the first 3/5 of this book - but because this book unflinchingly covers five-plus centuries of ugly and insidious racist ideas. Racism is not new, but it is not enjoyable seeing how entrenched it is in every aspect of our society, and seeing how racism is replicated in different historical settings. The book reminded me of Audre Lorde's quote: "There are no n ...more
Roger DeBlanck
Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning (2016) is a landmark work that serves the vital purpose of exposing the depth and extent of racist ideas throughout the course of America’s existence. In carrying out this riveting study, Kendi defines the three contentious belief systems relative to the ongoing history of racist ideas. The segregationists believe Blacks possess a biological inferiority. The antiracists understand that Blacks are equal and the same as any group of people. And the assim ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
This book, you all. Please read it. Settle in with it and be challenged. Prepare for the long game with this one - almost 600 pages and not one of them unnecessary in laying out the history of racism in America. I am going to say that this book is hands down the hardest book that I have read. It actually took me 4 separate times of borrowing it from the library to finish it -- partly because there is SO MUCH INFORMATION, most of which was new to me. Even when it was not new, the context and the ...more
Chris Blocker
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is perhaps the most powerful and well-built book I've come across on the subject of xenophobia/racism. Not only is Ibram X. Kendi well versed on the subject, but he presents it in a very unbiased and honest manner. Tracing the history back to the first enslavement of Africans by the Portuguese in the 1400s, Kendi works through nearly 600 years with significant care and detail. He separates the historical figures from the legends and analyzes each by the same criteria: segregationist, assimi ...more
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"[...] das Einzige was mit schwarzen Menschen nicht stimmt, [ ] ist unser Glaube, dass etwas mit ihnen nicht stimmt." (S.19)

Ein tolles Buch, dass die komplette Geschichte des Rassismus in Amerika behandelt, bis zur Wahl von Obama 2008. Auch wenn der Anfang ein bisschen schleppend ist, und man sich als Leser erst mit den verschiedenen rassistischen Theorien vertraut machen muss, wird es doch im Laufe des Buches klarer und man kann Entwicklungen besser nachvollziehen. Was dieses Buch vor allem zei
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everybody should read this book. It is at once heartbreaking, penetrating, and head-bangingly frustrating to read about the persistence of racist ideas in America, from the settlement of Jamestown in 1609 to the backlash against the Black Lives Matter hashtag this morning. Racism is dyed into the warp and weft of our national fabric; we can't pretend it's not there, that we're "post-racial," or that "good people" don't contribute to it. This books says: look. And it is a look we all need to take ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
History of ideas. Namely, the ideas surrounding race and racism in colonial America to the present. These ideas developed around economic needs of exploitation. Racist ideas developed as a handmaiden to political economy and have served as a justification for convenient economic relations for wealthy slaveowners, factory bosses, politicians and interest groups. There is always a debate on which drives history ideas or material conditions. In the case of racist ideas take second fiddle to economi ...more
Rachel León
So I'm going to refrain from rating this one because I don't know whether to give it 4 or 5 stars. It's obviously brilliant and deserving of the National Book Award. It's also a pretty heavy book and wasn't easy to get through. It was very history-heavy and I was expecting more analysis, but overall it's a powerful book.
Paul Crider
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-studies
Ibram X Kendi makes a number of fruitful distinctions in his wonderful historical tome of racist ideas in America. He distinguishes between producers of racist ideas (typically a small, socio-economic elite) and consumers of racist ideas. As a white male raised in deeply conservative Oklahoma, I appreciate this distinction. It was an environment that -- as has become increasingly clear over the years -- was saturated in racist ideas, so saturated that the racist ideas just seemed like common sen ...more
David Rush
Whew, that was quite a book.

“A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America”, a history of ideas and necessarily a history of people as they lived for or fought against those ideas.

Kendi's title comes from a speech given to Congress in 1860 by Jefferson Davis where he justifies slavery because that is the way it has always been. But he may also be a nod to the idea that racist ideas were stamped from the beginning of our country.

It is divided into 5 sections using iconic Americans as a rough
Dana Sweeney
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an essential piece of scholarship. “Stamped from the Beginning” is firstly, as advertised, an extensive excavation of the origins and evolution of [anti-Black] racist ideas in America. But it is also something else: a framework for understanding racist ideas through the murky fog of the present and future.

Kendi’s thesis is that there are three primary historical camps in American understandings of / responses to racism: segregationists, assimilationists, and anti-racists. Kendi shows th
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A tour de force, a grand intellectual history of racist ideas in the United States, offering a complex picture of racist ideas shaping not only the minds of bigots, but also the ideas of those fighting against structural causes of discrimination.
Cardyn Brooks
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Stamped from the Beginning could just as accurately have been titled with the word Rigged substituted for Stamped. A line from the author's epilogue offers a succinct summary on page 503: The history of racist ideas tells us what strategies antiracists should stop using. SftB chronicles not just the development of racist ideas, but the ongoing failure of the three oldest and most popular strategies Americans have used to root out these ideas: self-sacrifice, uplift suasion, and educational persu ...more
Leo Walsh
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full review coming, but here's the SparkNotes version:
Holy crap is this book good. It deserved the National Book Award.

I'm white, and at times I found myself mad at the book, where Kendi conflates everything Afro-Centric with anti-racist... despite the fact that some Afro-Centrists can be decidedly anti-Euro. And I think that we all need to create MLK's world together. Black, white, brown: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.

Kendi denigrates portions of my vision, calling it "inte
Ibram Kendi's monograph on racism is an impressive compendium of history and analysis stretching from the time when racism and capitalism co-evolved during the Age of (European) Exploration all the way to the present. Kendi takes a novel approach to classifying the actions, thoughts, and actors across these generations, classifying them as segregationist/racist (the races ought and must be kept apart, as they are different), assimilationist (people fundamentally differ by race, but can learn fro ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Book club Discussion Question ideas? 4 28 Oct 14, 2017 12:56PM  
Were black people really "Stamped from the Beginning?" 2 17 Aug 15, 2017 12:40PM  
  • The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture
  • Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul
  • Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law
  • Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, And The Black Working Class
  • The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America
  • A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America
  • The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea's Abduction Project
  • To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells
  • Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy
  • Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years
  • Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903
  • Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century
  • Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004
  • The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice
  • Writings: The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade / The Souls of Black Folk / Dusk of Dawn / Essays
  • The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945
  • Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency
  • Righteous Discontent: The Women's Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
    $12.74 $2.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
    $8.49 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • In the Beginning...Was the Command Line
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Toltec Art of Life and Death
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
  • The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top
    $17.99 $2.99
  • A Brief History of Time
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Penguin Lessons
    $12.99 $1.99
  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court
    $11.99 $4.99
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
    $12.99 $2.99
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God
    $11.49 $2.99
  • Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Johnny Cash: The Life
    $12.99 $3.99
  • No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend
    $12.99 $1.99
“Time and again, racist ideas have not been cooked up from the boiling pot of ignorance and hate. Time and again, powerful and brilliant men and women have produced racist ideas in order to justify the racist policies of their era, in order to redirect the blame for their era’s racial disparities away from those policies and onto Black people.” 13 likes
“The principal function of racist ideas in American history has been the suppression of resistance to racial discrimination and its resulting racial disparities. The beneficiaries of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration have produced racist ideas of Black people being best suited for or deserving of the confines of slavery, segregation, or the jail cell. Consumers of these racist ideas have been led to believe there is something wrong with Black people, and not the policies that have enslaved, oppressed, and confined so many Black people.” 10 likes
More quotes…