Dec. 2, 2016: National Book Award winner Ibram X. Kendi speaks at UAA

by Michelle Saport  |   

20161202-kendi-talkDr. Ibram X. Kendi, winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Non-Fiction for Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in Americawill be the featured speaker for the December CAS College Conversations this Friday, Dec. 2, noon-1 p.m., in Social Science Building, Room 118.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, was recently published by Nation Books and is the 2016 Winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction. The Washington Post classed it as "engrossing and relentless." Kirkus billed Stamped as "ambitious, magisterial" in its starred review.

Americans like to insist that we are living in a post-racial society, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. As award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W.E.B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading pro-slavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.

As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation's racial disparities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them-and in the process, gives us reason to hope.

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