The purpose of the assignment is for you to provide a critical analysis of the reading.
What this means is that you will present what, in your opinion, are the strengths and
weaknesses of the book. Keep in mind that your audience has some knowledge of U.S. history.
Dr. Victor Vazquez-Hernandez
BOOK REVIEW ASSIGNMENT
The purpose of the assignment is for you to provide a critical analysis of the reading. What this means is that you will present what, in your opinion, are the strengths and weaknesses of the book. Keep in mind that your audience has some knowledge of U.S. history.
The review must be a minimum (4) pages in length, but no longer than eight (6) pages. The summary of the book should not be more than one page long. Double-spaced, typed.
In general, the review should be structured in several sections:
2) Methodology, in which you describe how the author organized the book i e thematically, chronologically, etc.
4) Critique: strengths and weaknesses.
The review should contain the following:
I. Synopsis of the book:
A. General Topic
B. Chronological scope
C. Major emphasis (political, economic, social)
A. What is the overall thesis, the point of view or conclusion?
B. What are your reactions?
C. Did the book enhance your understanding of the issues?
D. What are the main points that you want to make? (Be direct)
Note: Each section should explain a point
III. Framing the Review
A. Provide information on the author (if available)
1-What are his/her relevant qualifications and background for writing on the subject?
2-What was his/her reason for writing the book? (Preface)
B. What evidence is cited?
C. Consider time period when book was written and, if evident, the author’s values and biases.
1-Personal Critique: (Refer back to your introductory paragraph)
a) What is your ultimate judgment of the style, format, content and historical value of the book?
b) Has the author achieved the purpose, explicit or implicit for writing the book?
c) Has he/she proven the thesis to your satisfaction? Why or why not?
d) Has the book challenged you intellectually, increasing your knowledge base, raising new questions and /or presenting the material in a novel, even provocative manner? Or does the author rehash old arguments?
e) Finally, would you recommend this book to others and to what age/school level?
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You was written by Jason Reynolds. It is based on Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, published by Bold Type Books.
Copyright © 2020 by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
Cover art copyright © 2020 by Erin Robinson. Title and author lettering copyright © 2020 by Dirty Bandits. Cover design by Karina Granda based on design by the Book Designers. Cover copyright © 2020 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Hachette Book Group supports the right to free expression and the value of copyright. The purpose of copyright is to encourage writers and artists to produce the creative works that enrich our culture.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Reynolds, Jason, author. | Kendi, Ibram X., author. Title: Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you / Jason Reynolds and Ibram X.
Kendi. Description: First edition. | New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2020. |
“An Adaptation of the National Book Award–winning Stamped from the Beginning.” | Includes bibliographical references and index. | Audience: Ages 12 and up. | Summary: “A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning.”—Provided by publisher.
Identifiers: LCCN 2019033917 | ISBN 9780316453691 (hardcover) | ISBN 9780316453707 (ebook) | ISBN 9780316453677
Subjects: LCSH: Racism—United States—History—Juvenile literature. | United States—Race relations—History—Juvenile literature.
Classification: LCC E184.A1 K346 2020 | DDC 305.800973—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019033917
ISBNs: 978-0-316-45369-1 (hardcover), 978-0-316-45370-7 (ebook)
COVER TITLE PAGE COPYRIGHT DEDICATION INTRODUCTION
SECTION 1: 1415–1728 1. The Story of the World’s First Racist 2. Puritan Power 3. A Different Adam 4. A Racist Wunderkind
SECTION 2: 1743–1826 5. Proof in the Poetry 6. Time Out 7. Time In 8. Jefferson’s Notes 9. Uplift Suasion 10. The Great Contradictor
SECTION 3: 1826–1879 11. Mass Communication for Mass Emancipation 12. Uncle Tom
13. Complicated Abe 14. Garrison’s Last Stand
SECTION 4: 1868–1963 15. Battle of the Black Brains 16. Jack Johnson vs. Tarzan 17. Birth of a Nation (and a New Nuisance) 18. The Mission Is in the Name 19. Can’t Sing and Dance and Write It Away 20. Home Is Where the Hatred Is
SECTION 5: 1963–TODAY 21. When Death Comes 22. Black Power 23. Murder Was the Case 24. What War on Drugs? 25. The Soundtrack of Sorrow and Subversion 26. A Million Strong 27. A Bill Too Many 28. A Miracle and Still a Maybe
AFTERWORD ACKNOWLEDGMENTS DISCOVER MORE FURTHER READING SOURCE NOTES ABOUT THE AUTHORS
To January Hartwell, my great-great-great-grandfather —JR
To the lives they said don’t matter —IXK
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To know the past is to know the present. To know the present is to know yourself.
I write about the history of racism to understand racism today. I want to understand racism today to understand how it is affecting me today. I want you to understand racism today to understand how it is affecting you and America today.
The book you’re holding is a remix of my book, Stamped from the Beginning, a narrative history of racist and antiracist ideas. A racist idea is any idea that suggests something is wrong or right, superior or inferior, better or worse about a racial group. An antiracist idea is any idea that suggests that racial groups are equals. Racist and antiracist ideas have lived in human minds for nearly six hundred years. Born in western Europe in the mid-1400s, racist ideas traveled to colonial America and have lived in the United States from its beginning. I chronicled their entire life in Stamped from the Beginning.
The novelist Jason Reynolds adapted Stamped from the Beginning into this book for you. I wish I learned this history at your age. But there were no books telling the complete story of racist ideas. Some books told parts of the story. I hardly wanted to read them, though. Most were so boring, written in ways I could not relate to. But not Jason’s books. Not this book. Jason is one of the most gifted writers and thinkers of our time. I don’t know of anyone who would have been better at connecting the past to the present for you. Jason is a great writer in the purest sense. A great writer
snatches the human eye in the way that a thumping beat snatches the human ear, makes your head bob up and down. It is hard to stop when the beat is on. A great writer makes my head bob from side to side. It is hard to stop when the book is open.
I don’t think I’m a great writer like Jason, but I do think I’m a courageous writer. I wrote Stamped from the Beginning with my cell phone on, with my television on, with my anger on, with my joy on—always thinking on and on. I watched the televised and untelevised life of the shooting star of #Black Lives Matter during America’s stormiest nights. I watched the televised and untelevised killings of unarmed Black human beings at the hands of cops and wannabe cops. I somehow managed to write Stamped from the Beginning between the heartbreaking deaths of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin and seventeen-year-old Darnesha Harris and twelve-year-old Tamir Rice and sixteen-year-old Kimani Gray and eighteen-year-old Michael Brown, heartbreaks that are a product of America’s history of racist ideas as much as a history of racist ideas is a product of these heartbreaks.
Meaning, if not for racist ideas, George Zimmerman would not have thought the hooded Florida teen who liked LeBron James, hip-hop, and South Park had to be a robber. Zimmerman’s racist ideas in 2012 transformed an easygoing Trayvon Martin walking home from a 7-Eleven holding watermelon juice and Skittles into a menace to society holding danger. Racist ideas cause people to look at an innocent Black face and see a criminal. If not for racist ideas, Trayvon would still be alive. His dreams of becoming a pilot would still be alive.
Young Black males were twenty-one times more likely to be killed by police than their White counterparts between 2010 and 2012, according to federal statistics. The under-recorded, under-analyzed racial disparities between female victims of lethal police force may be even greater. Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated than Whites.
I’m no math whiz, but if Black people make up 13 percent of the US population, then Black people should make up somewhere close to 13 percent of the Americans killed by the police, and somewhere close to 13 percent of the Americans sitting in prisons. But today, the United States remains nowhere close to racial equality. African Americans make up 40 percent of the incarcerated population. These are racial inequities, older
than the life of the United States. Even before Thomas Jefferson and the other founders declared
independence in 1776, Americans were arguing over racial inequities, over why they exist and persist, and over why White Americans as a group were prospering more than Black Americans as a group. Historically, there have been three groups involved in this heated argument. Both segregationists and assimilationists, as I call these racist positions in Stamped from the Beginning, think Black people are to blame for racial inequity. Both the segregationists and the assimilationists think there is something wrong with Black people and that’s why Black people are on the lower and dying end of racial inequity. The assimilationists believe Black people as a group can be changed for the better, and the segregationists do not. The segregationists and the assimilationists are challenged by antiracists. The antiracists say there is nothing wrong or right about Black people and everything wrong with racism. The antiracists say racism is the problem in need of changing, not Black people. The antiracists try to transform racism. The assimilationists try to transform Black people. The segregationists try to get away from Black people. These are the three distinct racial positions you will hear throughout Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You—the segregationists, the assimilationists, and the antiracists, and how they each have rationalized racial inequity.
In writing Stamped from the Beginning, I did not want to just write about racist ideas. I wanted to discover the source of racist ideas. When I was in school and first really learning about racism, I was taught the popular origin story. I was taught that ignorant and hateful people had produced racist ideas, and that these racist people had instituted racist policies. But when I learned the motives behind the production of racist ideas, it became obvious that this folktale, though sensible, was not true. I found that the need of powerful people to defend racist policies that benefited them led them to produce racist ideas, and when unsuspecting people consumed these racist ideas, they became ignorant and hateful.
Think of it this way. There are only two potential explanations for racial inequity, for why White people were free and Black people were enslaved in the United States. Either racist policies forced Black people into
enslavement, or animalistic Black people were fit for slavery. Now, if you make a lot of money enslaving people, then to defend your business you want people to believe that Black people are fit for slavery. You will produce and circulate this racist idea to stop abolitionists from challenging slavery, from abolishing what is making you rich. You see the racist policies of slavery arrive first and then racist ideas follow to justify slavery. And these racist ideas make people ignorant about racism and hateful of racial groups.
When I began writing Stamped from the Beginning, I must confess that I held quite a few racist ideas. Yes, me. I’m an African American. I’m a historian of African Americans. But it’s important to remember that racist ideas are ideas. Anyone can produce them or consume them, as this book shows. I thought there were certain things wrong with Black people (and other racial groups). 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. There are lazy, hardworking, wise, unwise, harmless, and harmful individuals of every race, but no racial group is better or worse than another racial group in any way.
Committed to this antiracist idea of group equality, I was able to discover, self-critique, and shed the racist ideas I had consumed over my lifetime while I uncovered and exposed the racist ideas that others have produced over the lifetime of America. The first step to building an antiracist America is acknowledging America’s racist past. By acknowledging America’s racist past, we can acknowledge America’s racist present. In acknowledging America’s racist present, we can work toward building an antiracist America. An antiracist America where no racial group has more or less, or is thought of as more or less. An antiracist America where the people no longer hate on racial groups or try to change racial groups. An antiracist America where our skin color is as irrelevant as the colors of the clothes over our skin.
And an antiracist America is sure to come. No power lasts forever. There will come a time when Americans will realize that the only thing wrong with Black people is that they think something is wrong with Black people. There will come a time when racist ideas will no longer obstruct us
from seeing the complete and utter abnormality of racial disparities. There will come a time when we will love humanity, when we will gain the courage to fight for an equitable society for our beloved humanity, knowing, intelligently, that when we fight for humanity, we are fighting for ourselves. There will come a time. Maybe, just maybe, that time is now.
Ibram X. Kendi
The Story of the World’s First Racist
BEFORE WE BEGIN, LET’S GET SOMETHING STRAIGHT. This is not a history book. I repeat, this is not a history book. At least not like the ones you’re used to reading in school. The ones that feel more like a list of dates (there will be some), with an occasional war here and there, a declaration (definitely gotta mention that), a constitution (that too), a court case or two, and, of course, the paragraph that’s read during Black History Month (Harriet! Rosa! Martin!). This isn’t that. This isn’t a history book. Or, at least, it’s not that kind of history book. Instead, what this is, is a book that contains history. A history directly connected to our lives as we live them right this minute. This is a present book. A book about the here and now. A book that hopefully will help us better understand why we are where we are as Americans, specifically as our identity pertains to race.
Uh-oh. The R-word. Which for many of us still feels rated R. Or can be matched only with another R word—run. But don’t. Let’s all just take a deep breath. Inhale. Hold it. Exhale and breathe out:
RACE. See? Not so bad. Except for the fact that race has been a strange and
persistent poison in American history, which I’m sure you already know. I’m also sure that, depending on where you are and where you’ve grown up, your experiences with it—or at least the moment in which you recognize it —may vary. Some may believe race isn’t an issue anymore, that it’s a thing of the past, old tales of bad times. Others may be certain that race is like an alligator, a dinosaur that never went extinct but instead evolved. And though hiding in murky swamp waters, that leftover monster is still deadly. And then there are those of you who know that race and, more critical, racism are everywhere. Those of you who see racism regularly robbing people of liberty, whether as a violent stickup or as a sly pickpocket. The
thief known as racism is all around. This book, this not history history book, this present book, is meant to take you on a race journey from then to now, to show why we feel how we feel, why we live how we live, and why this poison, whether recognizable or unrecognizable, whether it’s a scream or a whisper, just won’t go away.
This isn’t the be-all end-all. This isn’t the whole meal. It’s more like an appetizer. Something in preparation for the feast to come. Something to get you excited about choosing your seat—the right seat—at the table.
Oh! And there are three words I want you to keep in mind. Three words to describe the people we’ll be exploring:
Segregationists. Assimilationists. Antiracists. There are serious definitions to these things, but… I’m going to give you
mine. Segregationists are haters. Like, real haters. People who hate you for not
being like them. Assimilationists are people who like you, but only with quotation marks. Like…“like” you. Meaning, they “like” you because you’re like them. And then there are antiracists. They love you because you’re like you. But it’s important to note, life can rarely be wrapped into single-word descriptions. It isn’t neat and perfectly shaped. So sometimes, over the course of a lifetime (and even over the course of a day), people can take on and act out ideas represented by more than one of these three identities. Can be both, and. Just keep that in mind as we explore these folks.
And, actually, these aren’t just the words we’ll be using to describe the people in this book. They’re also the words we’ll be using to describe you. And me. All of us.
So where do we start? We might as well just jump in and begin with the world’s first racist. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, How could anyone know who the world’s first racist was? Or you’re thinking, Yeah, tell us, so we can find out where he lives. Well, he’s dead. Been dead for six hundred years. Thankfully. And before I tell you about him, I have to give you a little context.
Europe. That’s where we are. Where he was. As I’m sure you’ve learned by now, the Europeans (Italians, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French,
British) were conquering everyone, because if there’s one thing all history books do say, it’s that Europeans conquered the majority of the world. The year is 1415, and Prince Henry (there’s always a Prince Henry) convinced his father, King John of Portugal, to basically pull a caper and capture the main Muslim trading depot on the northeastern tip of Morocco. Why? Simple. Prince Henry was jealous. The Muslims had riches, and if Prince Henry could get the Muslims out of the way, then those riches and resources could be easily accessed. Stolen. A jack move. A robbery. Plain and simple. The take, a bountiful supply of gold. And Africans. That’s right, the Portuguese were capturing Moorish people, who would become prisoners of war in a war the Moors hadn’t planned on fighting but had to, to survive. And by prisoners, I mean property. Human property.
But neither Prince Henry nor King John of Portugal was given the title World’s First Racist, because the truth is, capturing people wasn’t an unusual thing back then. Just a fact of life. That illustrious moniker would go to a man named neither Henry nor John but something way more awesome, who did something not awesome at all—Gomes Eanes de Zurara. Zurara, which sounds like a cheerleader chant, did just that. Cheerleaded? Cheerled? Whatever. He was a cheerleader. Kind of. Not the kind who roots for a team and pumps up a crowd, but he was a man who made sure the team he played for was represented and heralded as great. He made sure Prince Henry was looked at as a brilliant quarterback making ingenious plays, and that every touchdown was the mark of a superior player. How did Zurara do this? Through literature. Storytelling.
He wrote the story, a biography of the life and slave trading of Prince Henry. Zurara was an obedient commander in Prince Henry’s Military Order of Christ and would eventually complete his book, which would become the first defense of African slave trading. It was called The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea. In it, Zurara bragged about the Portuguese being early in bringing enslaved Africans from the Western Sahara Cape, and spoke about owning humans as if they were exclusive pairs of sneakers. Again, this was common. But he upped the brag by also explaining what made Portugal different from their European neighbors in terms of slave trading. The Portuguese now saw enslaving people as missionary work. A mission from God to help civilize and Christianize the African “savages.” At least, that’s what Zurara claimed.
And the reason this was a one-up on his competitors, the Spanish and Italians, was because they were still enslaving eastern Europeans, as in White people (not called White people back then). Zurara’s ace, his trick shot, was that the Portuguese had enslaved Africans (of all shades, by the way) supposedly for the purpose of saving their wretched souls.
Zurara made Prince Henry out to be some kind of youth minister canvassing the street, doing community work, when what Prince Henry really was, was more of a gangster. More of a shakedown man, a kidnapper getting a commission for bringing the king captives. Prince Henry’s cut, like a finder’s fee: 185 slaves, equaling money, money, money, though it was always framed as a noble cause, thanks to Zurara, who was also paid for his pen. Seems like Zurara was just a liar, right? A fiction writer? So, what makes him the world’s first racist? Well, Zurara was the first person to write about and defend Black human ownership, and this single document began the recorded history of anti-Black racist ideas. You know how the kings are always attached to where they rule? Like, King John of Portugal? Well, if Gomes Eanes de Zurara was the king of anything (which he wasn’t), he would’ve been King Gomes of Racism.
Zurara’s book, The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea, was a hit. And you know what hits do—they spread. Like a pop song that everyone claims to hate, but everyone knows the words to, and then suddenly no one hates the song anymore, and instead it becomes an anthem. Zurara’s book became an anthem. A song sung all across Europe as the primary source of knowledge on unknown Africa and African peoples for the original slave traders and enslavers in Spain, Holland, France, and England.
Zurara depicted Africans as savage animals that needed taming. This depiction over time would even begin to convince some African people that they were inferior, like al-Hasan Ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi, a well- educated Moroccan who was on a diplomatic journey along the Mediterranean Sea when he was captured and enslaved. He was eventually freed by Pope Leo X, who converted him to Christianity, renamed him Johannes Leo (he later become known as Leo Africanus, or Leo the African), and possibly commissioned him to write a survey of Africa. And in that survey, Africanus echoed Zurara’s sentiments of Africans, his own people. He said they were hypersexual savages, making him the first known
African racist. When I was growing up, we called this “drinking the Kool- Aid” or “selling out.” Either way, Zurara’s documentation of the racist idea that Africans needed slavery in order to be fed and taught Jesus, and that it was all ordained by God, began to seep in and stick to the European cultural psyche. And a few hundred years later, this idea would eventually reach America.
OKAY, SO BY NOW HOPEFULLY YOU’RE SAYING, WOW, THIS really isn’t like the history books I’m used to. And if you aren’t saying that, well… you’re a liar. And, guess what, you wouldn’t be the first.
After Gomes Eanes de Zurara’s ridiculous, money-grabbing lie, there were other European “race theorists” who followed suit, using his text as a jumping-off point for their own concepts and racist ideas to justify the enslavement of Africans. Because if there’s one thing we all know about humans, it’s that most of us are followers, looking for something to be part of to make us feel better about our own selfishness. Or is that just me? Just me? Got it. Anyway, the followers came sniffing around, drumming up their own cockamamie (best word ever, even better than Zurara, though possibly a synonym) theories, two of which would set the table for the conversation around racism for centuries to come.
Those theories were:
1. CLIMATE THEORY: This actually came from Aristotle (we’ll get back to him later), who questioned whether Africans were born “this way” or if the heat of the continent made them inferior. Many agreed it was climate, and that if African people lived in cooler temperatures, they could, in fact, become White. And,
2. CURSE THEORY: In 1577, after noticing that Inuit people in northeastern (freezing-cold) Canada were darker than the people living in the hotter south, English travel writer George Best
determined—conveniently for all parties interested in owning slaves—that it couldn’t have been climate that made darker people inferior, and instead determined that Africans were, in fact, cursed. (First of all, could you imagine someone on the Travel Channel telling you that you’re cursed? Like… really?) And what did Best use to prove this theory? Only one of the most irrefutable books of the time: the Bible. In Best’s whimsical interpretation of the book of Genesis, Noah orders his White sons not to have sex with their wives on the ark, and then tells them that the first child born after the flood would inherit the earth. When the evil, tyrannical, and hypersexual Ham (goes HAM and) has sex on the ark, God wills that Ham’s descendants will be dark and disgusting, and the whole world will look at them as symbols of trouble. Simply put, Ham’s kids would be Black and bad, ultimately making Black… bad. Curse theory would become the anchor of what would justify American slavery.
It would branch off into another ridiculous idea, the strange concept that because Africans were cursed and because, according to these Europeans, they needed enslavement in order to be saved and civilized, the relationship between slave and master was loving. That it was more like parent and child. Or minister and member. Mentor, mentee. They were painting a compassionate picture about what was certainly a terrible experience, because, well, human beings were being forced into servitude, and there’s no way to spin that into one big happy family.
But the literature said otherwise. That’s right, there was another piece of literature, this one written by a man named William Perkins, called Ordering a Familie, published in 1590, in which he argued that the slave was just part of a loving family unit that was ordered a particular way. And that the souls and the potential of the souls were equal, but not the skin. It’s like saying, “I look at my dog like I look at my children, even though I’ve trained my dog to fetch my paper by beating it and yanking its leash.” But the idea of it all let the new enslavers off the emotional hook and portrayed
them as benevolent do-gooders “cleaning up” the Africans. A generation later, slavery touched down in the newly colonized
America. And the people there to usher it in and, more important, to use it to build this new country were two men, each of whom saw himself as a similar kind of do-gooder. Their names, John Cotton and Richard Mather.
About Cotton and Mather. They were Puritans. About Puritans. They were English Protestants who believed the
reformation of the Church of England was basically watering down Christianity, and they sought to regulate it to keep it more disciplined and rigid. So, these two men, at different times, traveled across the Atlantic in search of a new land (which would be Boston) where they could escape English persecution and preach their version—a “purer” version—of Christianity. They landed in America after treacherous trips, especially Richard Mather, whose ship sailed into a storm in 1635 and almost collided with a massive rock in the ocean. Mather, of course, saw his survival of this journey to America as a miracle, and became even more devoted to God.
Both men were ministers. They built churches in Massachusetts but, more impo
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