Rewriting the History of Racist Ideas

While first reading Ibram X. Kendi’s kaleidoscopic and admirably lucidStamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas, I had a flashback to my days as a graduate student, during the years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. In particular, I remembered poring over Winthrop D. Jordan’s White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550–1812(1968) in one of my seminars. A second edition of White Over Black was released just five years ago, but in fact the number of historical studies on racist ideas has exploded in the half century since Jordan’s classic was first published. Expanding significantly upon such works, Kendi’s new book is destined to become a must-read for those seeking an accessible introduction to the complex intellectual history of racist ideologies in the United States.

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