Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas In America is an anti-racist polemic on the history of American race relations.
Kendi uses the lives of Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois and Angela Davis to anchor a narrative about the evolution of American racism. He argues that three camps – segregationists (who believe blacks are biologically inferior), assimilationists (who believe blacks are inferior, but were made so by their environment) and anti-racists (who believe in racial equality) – have dominated racial discourse across American history. He also aims to show that the three strategies of self-sacrifice, uplift suasion and educational perusasion have failed to eradicate racist ideas.
Interestingly, Kendi doesn’t believe in what he calls “the popular folktale of racism” that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas which lead to discrimination. Instead, he proposes that the real causal relationship is racial discrimination leads to racist ideas which lead to ignorance and hate. This is why he believes uplift suasion and educational persuasion have failed to eradicate racism. He believes racial discrimination is grounded in racist policies, not in ignorance of the truth or sheer loathing of blacks. He argues that racial disparities are caused by racial discrimination and racist policies, not the nature of the negro.
As a sketch of the history of racist ideas in America, Stamped From The Beginning isn’t so bad. Kendi gets a lot of things right. Led by the Spanish and Portuguese who pioneered the plantation system, Europeans had come to believe in the racial inferiority of Africans before the creation of America. The colonial era was thoroughly racist and was dominated by the ‘segregationists’. The first crack in the segregationist consensus began with the Quaker opposition to slavery. The second crack was the American Revolution which was justified on the basis of Enlightenment liberalism.
The American Revolution produced the first abolitionist movement in which ‘assimilationists’ like Benjamin Rush and Samuel Stanhope Smith pushed back against the dominance of ‘segregationists’ like Jefferson. This first burst of racial liberalism faded as the Cotton Kingdom emerged in the antebellum era. After the 1830s, it was challenged by the second abolitionist movement which produced new ‘assimiliationist’ figures like William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass. The second burst of racial liberalism came during Reconstruction after the defeat of the Confederacy. After the 1880s, it faded into the Nadir of the Negro and the Jim Crow era.
The Great Depression and Second World War led to the third burst of racial liberalism. The ‘segregationists’ were discredited by the Third Reich and ‘assimilationists’ became the dominant group. During the Cold War, the ‘assimilationists’ used foreign policy arguments to justify dismantling Jim Crow and pushing the Civil Rights Movement to victory. In the late 1960s, the ‘anti-racists’ challenged the ‘assimilationists’ who have been synonymous with the mainstream since the triumph and assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Also, the ‘segregationists’ have experienced a revival since the 1990s as the failure of the ‘assimiliationists’ integration project became increasingly evident.
In a sense, I enjoyed this book. The title comes from a reply by Jefferson Davis to William Seward in which he said, “we recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race of men by the Creator, and from the cradle to the grave, our Government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority.” Years later, the future president of the Confederacy is also quoted saying in a speech opposing black education in Washington, DC on April 12, 1860, “This government was not founded by negroes for negroes, but by White men for White men” and that “the inequality of the White and black races” was “stamped from the beginning.”
It was a relief not to have to wade through hundreds of pages of cuckfederate nonsense about how the historical Confederacy was an anti-racist multicultural utopia. There were no paeans to ‘the American idea’ of the Founding Fathers either which we are accustomed to hearing from ‘assimiliationist’ cuckservatives like Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake. ‘Segregationists’ and ‘anti-racists’ can agree on that much. The United States only moved away from its racist origins during the Cold War for geopolitical reasons.
There are a number of flaws with this book:
- First, it makes no sense to focus on Cotton Mather given that New England was a backwater of the British Empire with an overwhelmingly White population. The true origin of “racist ideas” in English America was in Barbardos and the Greater Caribbean.
- Second, W.E.B DuBois was a leading figure in Black America during the Jim Crow era, but his ideas were hardly synonymous with the Spirit of the Age. Booker T. Washington, Thomas Dixon or Madison Grant would have been a far better thematic choice.
- Third, Martin Luther King, Jr. has cast his shadow over America since the 1960s. He has his own federal holiday and is held in greater esteem than Thomas Jefferson. So it makes little sense to devote an entire section of the book to Angela Davis who is a crackpot who ran as a failed vice presidential candidate for the Communist Party USA.
My biggest criticism of Stamped From The Beginning is that it simply isn’t true that racist policies and racial discrimination have led to “racist ideas” which have led to ignorance and hate. On the contrary, it was experience and interaction with the African which led to “racist ideas” which has led to racist policies. Discrimination isn’t holding Africans back. When the English arrived in Black Africa in the 16th century, Black Africa was already an underdeveloped backwater centuries behind Western Europe.
When the English were thrust into contact with West Africa in the 16th century, it was the modern day equivalent of first contact with extraterrestrials. The English had virtually no experience with Africans until Queen Elizabeth’s time. They sought to explain the African who was a scientific curiosity and who was perceived as being unlike the English in almost every single way.
Climate theory was based on the intuition that the negro as a race was a tropical animal. The English knew that the black skin and woolly hair of the African had something to do with the intense sun which was as debilitating to Europeans as the cold was to Africans. Similarly, Curse theory helped explain the paradox of why American Indians who lived along similar latitudes weren’t as black as negroes. It couldn’t be due simply to the environment. The offspring of Africans brought to Europe and the Americas remained black. It was reasonable to assume that blackness was hereditary.
Europeans continued to follow the evidence. It was observed that West Africans lived alongside chimpanzees who were eerily human. Could there be some kind of relationship between Africans and chimpanzees? Modern biology holds that there is in fact such a relationship (they’re distant cousins). Polygenesis was based on the theory of the independent origin of the human races. It was a popular theory in the early 19th century in the context of the discovery of the Neanderthals and dinosaurs.
The English didn’t come right out of the gate and declare that Africans were inferior in order to justify slavery. Instead, they traded with and interacted with Africans for about 150 years. Britain was only granted the asiento to supply the Spanish Empire with slaves in 1713. England only became the dominant player in the slave trade around 1690. English racial attitudes toward the negro developed over this long stretch before Barbados became the first major English plantation colony in the 1640s.
Europeans developed different “racist ideas” about American Indians. They came to believe that negroes were superior slaves. They came to believe that negroes were better suited than Europeans to plantation agriculture. In Virginia and Barbados, indentured servants and war captives came first on the plantations. It was only later as the labor supply dried up than the English turned to African slave labor. They found that Africans were more resistant to diseases like yellow fever and malaria and toiled better in the tropical sun. The African climate and disease environment was so hostile to Europeans that the interior of Africa was uncharted until Stanley and Livingstone’s time in the late 19th century.
Like many Europeans, Thomas Jefferson thought that Africans were intellectually inferior to Whites, but that Americans Indians were equals and capable of being assimilated. American Indians like the Aztecs and Inca had created great civilizations. The North American Indian tribes were considered savages by Europeans, which was attributed to their environment, whereas some Africans were considered savages while others were thought more civilized. Even civilized Africans that lived in settled kingdoms and practiced agriculture were considered inferior.
While Europeans enslaved other Europeans and American Indians, they didn’t base slavery on racial inferiority. Muslims had come to similar conclusions about Africans:
“Merriment dominates the black man because of his defective brain, whence also the weakness of his intelligence.” – Al-Masudi (896-956)
“There is no marriage among them; the child does not know his father, and they eat people — but God knows best. As for the Zanj, they are people of black color, flat noses, kinky hair, and little understanding or intelligence.” – Al-Muqaddasi (945/946-1000)
“[Blacks are] people who are by their very nature slaves.” – Ibn Sina aka Avicenna (980-1037)
“If (all types of men) are taken, from the first, and one placed after another, like the Negro from Zanzibar, in the Southern-most countries, the Negro does not differ from an animal in anything except the fact that his hands have been lifted from the earth -in no other peculiarity or property – except for what God wished. Many have seen that the ape is more capable of being trained than the Negro, and more intelligent.”
“[The Zanj (African) differ from animals only in that] their two hands are lifted above the ground,… Many have observed that the ape is more teachable and more intelligent than the Zanj.” – Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274)
“Therefore, the Negro nation are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because [Negroes] have little [that is essentially] human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals, as we have stated.”
“beyond [known peoples of black West Africa] to the south there is no civilization in the proper sense. There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals than to rational beings. They live in thickets and caves, and eat herbs and unprepared grain. They frequently eat each other. They cannot be considered human beings.” – Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406)
The Europeans who explored Black Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries made the same observations. They found Africans engaging in cannibalism, walking around naked in loincloths and who were happy to sell other Africans into slavery in exchange for guns, liquor, shiny trinkets (bling), textiles (preferably from India) and cowry shells from the Indian Ocean. The Africans that European explorers discovered were described as a dumb, lascivious, lazy, brutal, musical and servile people. Slavery was their custom and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade only became such a big deal because there was an infinite supply of African slaves. Africans protested the end of the slave trade. It never occurred to them to end it.
When Jefferson Davis said that “the inequality of the White and black races” was “stamped from the beginning,” he was saying that they had always been like that. No great crime had been committed by Whites. He was disputing the ‘assimilationist’ notion that Africans had been transformed into brutes by slavery and that freedom would erase racial differences. He was right too.
In the 21st century, 150 years years after the demise of slavery and 50 years after the demise of segregation, the African is unchanged by American progress. He is essentially the same being as he has been described by observers in all ages. He benefits from white privilege in the sense that he has been lifted by the tide of European science and technology which he played no role in creating. This is why the most successful Africans on earth live in the closest proximity to Europeans.
If Ibram X. Kendi is right that discrimination has oppressed and immiserated Africans, African-Americans should be among the poorest Africans on earth instead of the richest. Haiti, Liberia and Ethiopia should be among the most successful black nations instead of the most dysfunctional. Barbados and Guadeloupe should have been ground down by slavery, white supremacy and colonialism. Africans are willing to risk death to cross the Mediterranean from Africa into Europe because they know the truth is otherwise. The same is true of their ancestors who opposed resettlement in Haiti or Liberia.
No one is flocking to Chad or Cameroon to live in a world free of “racist ideas.” It is much easier to make a living conning guilt-ridden Americans, Swedes and Germans that it is their fault that “only their hands rise from the ground.”
The negro can write a book, pen a nasty rap song whining about us or protest in the streets about some injustice that we’re apparently responsible for, but the fact remains that 90% of their issues are their own doing. Slavery and Jim Crow can no longer be blamed for their predicament, and even affirmative action, though disadvantaging whites, has not moved them forward in any real way. You can take a negro to Mars in a spaceship and surround him with geeks and technology…..but he’ll still be a negro.
In a way, I feel for white leftists from the early 60’s who fought to give the blacks a fair go, as the end results of equality were not yet known. However, blacks had the entire 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and into this century to move forward with us, and prove their equality, but have failed to do so. They’ve had at least fifty years to lift themselves up, free from the old restrictions.
The ability to just sing crap or run with a football no longer cuts it. If they can’t begin contributing more to society, they really need to just go away.
What more can we do for them?
Actually, Affirmative Action benefited white women more than any other cohort…dummy
If AA actually benefited Whites it wouldn’t exist.
Its always a badge of honor to be criticized by imbeciles like you. Its means I’m on the right side of the argument.
Please keep talking-it showcases instantly to all how stupid you lot are.
Lincoln could have used Greenbacks to fund removal of negroes. Finance Capital (mostly Jewish) funded the slave ships into being, to then sell negroes to white farmers in America. The idea was to provide labor, especially to grow cotton.
A modern sovereign money system could set aside funds for those negroes that would like to leave. Credit as money has a future orientation, so setting aside credit for removal is humane for the negro, humane for other races, and in alignment with good economics.
This money unit can have restrictions on it, such that it can only be exchanged for american goods, or it will have a unique exchange rate relative to other currencies, or exchange relative only to that specific African country accepting former American blacks.
The Book into the Cannibals Pot by Mercer, explains how negroes never developed a future time preference. All african languages lack abstract concepts, especially relating to time. African languages were never written down (no writing), and consisted only of simple concrete concepts. In short, blacks live in the now, and abstract ideas are not considered.
Fourth ice ages accelerated evolution of two groups: North East Asians, and North Western Caucasoids. Surviving fourth ice ages meant evolving a future time orientation with associated planning to survive winter seasons. Civilization is only possible because of this future time orientation. High Civilization requires control over ones impulses and requires one to do the right thing as an intrinsic behavior. Morality is an abstract concept.
It will take a Patriarchy which has its own monetary power to deal with intransigent social problems.
TORAH = STAMPED EVIL FROM THE BEGINNING—THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF EVIL IDEAS IN THE WORLD.
Looks like this poor guy has not read the Torah. Because if he had, he would have known that the most racist, vile and evil ideas are stamped in the Torah, the “holy” book of the Judaists. The Judaists are the most evil, racist people in the history of mankind, not white Americans.
But Jewish author Samuel Benjamin Harris realized it, when he said:
“There is no text more barbaric than the Old Testament of the Bible–books like Deuteronomy and Leviticus and Exodus*. The Qur’an pales in comparison”—Jewish author Dr. Samuel Benjamin Harris.
* i.e. Torah.
THAT is one book that is stamped with evil from the beginning.
Very nice review Mr. Wallace. This Kendis fellow’s idea of “racism” causing racist ideas seems about as logical as saying that food causes hunger, instead of a hungry man seeking out food.
I would make one light hearted correction to the following statement you made: “When the English arrived in Black Africa in the 16th century, Black Africa was already an underdeveloped backwater centuries behind Western Europe.” Strike out “centuries” and replace with “millennia”!
Hunter, write a book. You have a talent for articulating these ideas, which act as a counterweight to the enemy’s.
I shall ghost write large portions of HW’s book and be sure to include a lot of Lil’ Abner cartoons.
Are Negroes capable of writing about anything else besides Muh muthafuggin racisms?
If Hunter wrote a book it would never end. Always “to be continued…”
THE JUDAISTS PROBABLY WROTE THE BOOK–HE IS JUST A FRONT.
Most anti-white racists are Jewish. Black people often cannot spell, let alone wright (rite? right? write?) a book. Most books lose money. It is super hard to find a literary agent and super hard to find a publisher willing to bet on a new writer. So it is fishy a man like this can suddenly write a book.
So some Judaists probably wrote the book for him, and are giving him 10% of the cut. The Rabbis approved him because his name Avram brought glee to their heart.
Our ancestors made a great mistake by bringing Africans out of their shitholes into Western civilization. There is no reason why we of today have to suffer for others past mistakes. We must correct this mistake and not continue as if we cannot do anything about past mistakes. Africans have got to go back to where they sprang from. It is clear that Africans cannot exist peacefully within a civilized society. They must go if civilization is to continue. We have proven blacks cannot live peacefully with Whites. Remove blacks and we will only need one prison. Millions of correction officers, lawyers, judges, police,FBI, etc will all need to seek a productive life and so will blacks.
Yall are free to back to where Yall “sprang” from as well…
It’s back to the ratlands of the Mexican desert for you, El Puto.
Sounds like one, long, boring we’ve heard it all before justification for White Genocide.
“First, it makes no sense to focus on Cotton Mather given that New England was a backwater of the British Empire with an overwhelmingly White population. ”
This undue focus on New England is the bane of American history. It makes understanding American history in toto, impossible. It’s like trying to understand a car by focusing on a single lug nut. The big historical picture can’t be seen because the view is blocked by Massachusetts.
There is a huge pro Bay State prejudice in the history books. The only important English colony in America? Massachusetts. The place where all of the American revolution was fought? Massachusetts. The birthplace of American democracy? Massachusetts. The state that singlehandedly defeated the Confederacy and abolished slavery? Massachusetts. The center of America’s industrial revolution? Massachusetts. The greatest schools, universities, hospitals and institutions of high culture? Massachusetts.
The rest of you states are just along for the ride.
The victors write the history that every succeeding generation “learns” from.
Arnold- shut up.
There needs to be a “secret society” of doctors and nurses. They are to start in the delivery room to make these animals sterile at birth. And at the same time fix that gorilla laying up giving birth to these animals.