Award-winning author Reynolds (Look Both Ways, 2019, etc.) presents a young readers’ version of American University professor Kendi’s (How To Be an Antiracist, 2019, etc.) Stamped From the Beginning (2016).
This volume, which is “not a history book,” chronicles racist ideology, specifically anti-blackness in the U.S., from its genesis to its pernicious manifestations in the present day. In an open, conversational tone, Reynolds makes it clear that anti-black racist ideology in the U.S. has consistently relied on the erronious belief that African people (and black people in general) are “dumb” and “savage,” ideas perpetuated through the written word, other media, and pseudo-science. Using separationist, assimilationist, and anti-racist historical figures, a direct line is drawn throughout U.S history from chattel slavery through the Civil War, Jim Crow, the civil rights era, the war on drugs, and #BlackLivesMatter, with plenty of little-known, compelling, and disturbing details inserted. Readers who want to truly understand how deeply embedded racism is in the very fabric of the U.S., its history, and its systems will come away educated and enlightened. It’s a monumental feat to chronicle in so few pages the history of not only anti-black racism in the U.S., but also assimilationist and anti-racist thought as well. In the process it succeeds at connecting “history directly...to our lives as we live them right this minute.” Worthy of inclusion in every home and in curricula and libraries everywhere.
Impressive and much needed. (Nonfiction. 12-adult)