Blanche’s Book Club: ‘Stamped From the Beginning’.

I know that you’ve probably seen the news about all of the anti-racist books being at the top of the seller lists, which is pretty cool. But I know one thing is for certain is that we actually have to read all of the books we’re buying — and it takes time to read them!

I feel bad that my blog has shown other books from white authors these past few weeks, but my first anti-racist book, which I’m sharing today, was 750+ pages. It’s a biggie 🙂

One thing I would also recommend if you’re looking for anti-racist reading: buy books from Black authors. I feel very strongly against reading and supporting white authors on this matter.

Books by Black Authors on my TBR List

Aside from reading “Stamped From the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi, here are the other anti-racist books I have on hold at the library:

I also bought two books by Black authors last week to support #BlackoutBestsellerList (and I bought them from a Black-female-owned bookstore in Austin) and have SEVERAL books by Black authors on hold at the library, including:

Okay, I know that’s a lot, but I wanted to list them just in case you’re looking for books to read!

‘Stamped From the Beginning’

Now, let’s get into “Stamped”. I heard about this book for the first time on Instagram — I follow several other readers — and @melanatedreader is hosting a read-a-long for this book.

Right now, she’s set up a reading schedule for the book and then around mid-July, she’s hosting virtual discussions about it, which I thought would be really helpful.

Because of this discussion and because this book is full of history, I started a fresh notebook to take notes, and I was reading the digital version, so I highlighted several things as well. There’s so much to take in! Here’s the book’s description:

Some Americans insist that we’re living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America–it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, 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. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.

As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation’s racial inequities.

In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.

This is my first book on anti-racism. I have always considered myself aware of systematic racism, because I pay attention to the news, have supported Black Lives Matter from day one, and volunteered as a moderator for Dialogue on Race Louisiana.

But… I have discovered over the last several weeks that I was only scratching the surface, and there’s so much for me to learn and do. I’m really glad I started with this book because it gives an overview of racist ideas from the early 1400s until about 2008.

The book covers this history by looking through the lens of five people: Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, Web Du Bois, and Angela Davis.

Here are some of the things I noted (I won’t list all of them, because I used half a notebook):

  • Racist progress has consistently followed racial progress
  • Definition of a racist idea: Any concept that regards one racial group as inferior or superior to another racial group in any way.
  • Hate and ignorance have not driven the history of racist ideas in America. Racist policies have driven the history of racist ideas in America.
  • The only thing extraordinary about white people is that they think something is extraordinary about white people.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 served to build a dam against Jim Crow policies, but it also opened the floodgates for new racist ideas to pour in.
  • (1968) In the week following King’s assassination, more than 125 cities experienced another wave of urban rebellions leading to another backlash of law and order.

This book is so good! I am not a history buff; in fact, it’s really difficult for me to wrap my brain around history. But I feel like this was so well-written, and it’s a good place to start. I am looking forward to reading Kendi’s other book as well.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Two Lives of Lydia Bird” by Josie Silver.

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks.

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