These are the three descriptions of the types of people we learn about in Stamped; the haters, the cowards, and the antiracists, the people who truly love. While this book is not a history book (as Jason Reynolds makes sure you know), we learn a wealth of information about the people and practices in history that led us to where we are today. To know the past is to understand the present and to understand the present is to have the power to change the future.
"This is not a history book...this is a present book. A book that hopefully will help us better understand why we are where we are as Americans, specifically as our identity pertains to race."
Gomes Eanes de Zurara, aka the world's first racist, was a Portuguese commander and author of The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea which attempted to convince folks that slavery was missionary work for the church, a mission from God "to help civilize and Christianize the African 'savages'". He began the recorded history of anti-Blackness, of racists ideas, and poured the Kool-Aid of racism to White people all over the world. He planted the seed of the belief in human hierarchy. This is just one segregationist that is covered in Stamped and as you will see, these ideas spread like wildfire and were monumental in the building of the slave trade in America, and gave grounds to the racist path that our country was founded upon.
Kendi and Reynolds argue that at the end of the 19th century, W.E.B. Du Bois (sociologist, historian, educator, writer, and later, Civil Rights activist) began as an assimilationist. At first, he subscribed to the idea of "uplift suasion", the idea of fitting into the White mold- to "make White people comfortable with your existence" to disprove the racist stereotypes. He blamed Black people for being mistreated and killed and "found fault in the Black rage" when uprisings began. He believed in "being like White people to eliminate threat so that Black people could compete". Later, we learn that he adopted a new way of thinking and began fighting for Black safe spaces, joined the Pan-African movement, and became a beacon of light in the anti-racism fight for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which leads us to...
Angela Davis. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Malcolm X., James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Stokely Carmichael. These are just a few of the people we learn about who were instrumental in the fight for racial equality, but let's focus on Angela Davis for a moment. Davis found her activism roots in college after four girls from her hometown were killed in a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. As the Black Power movement was ramping up, she started a Black Student Union at USC San Diego, worked on Charlene Mitchell's presidential campaign (the first Black woman to run for US presidency), was falsely accused of murder but represented herself in court and won, ran for vice president, continued an abolitionist movement again prisons. The list of her activism and achievements is unending as is her fire and passion for justice. Be sure to read Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You to learn more about this powerful woman.
Author Jason Reynolds introduces the book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.
FREE copies of Stamped are available for pickup at any Richland Library location, while supplies last.