“Stamped” gives a new perspective on often overlooked history

Remixed from the award-winning “Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi, Jason Reynolds’ “Stamped” explains the history of racism.

Author Jason Reynolds repeats many times throughout “Stamped” that “’Stamped’ is not a history book.” Though the book tells history, it reads more like a story being told. Reynolds uses language that does not resemble most history books, and he is not afraid to tell truths about many historical figures that tell a different story than what we read in school. This is the genius of “Stamped.”

Instead of retelling history to inform readers about the events that happened and allowing the reader to make conclusions about its impact themselves, Reynolds instead explains why the events that have happened throughout history have led to today’s social climate and the racism many people face. 

Reynolds instead explains why the events that have happened throughout history have led to the social climate and racism many people face today. ”

— Alexis Dick '21

Reynolds brings the reader through American history, telling a story that is not often talked about, beginning with the start of racism and finishing in the present day. Reynolds talks about many historical figures that are commonly praised and tells of things they did that show them in a different light.

Generally, Reynolds does a good job of not overcomplicating things and being understandable despite readers likely having little prior knowledge of events covered in the book. However, there were some points where it was a little confusing to follow what he was trying to say.

Reynolds provides a unique perspective and shares his views more than most other authors. He provides some commentary on the events he discusses and doesn’t just tell the facts, instead providing a larger view of how these events created a chain reaction that led to how racism and equality are today.

These events created a chain reaction that led to how racism and equality are today.”

— Alexis Dick '21

This way of writing helps you understand the consequences these historical events have on our society today. Although writing like this works to explain the impact better, it also felt quite opinionated at times which brought the book further away from a typical history book read in school.

The book is being proposed as something to be taught in classes, specifically American Studies, and it has already been added to the AP US History and Ethnic Studies curriculums. I could see the decision go either way because, although the book is a good representation of often-overlooked history and provides a new view on many historical figures often thought of as heroes, it also seems more opinionated and most of the time books we read in history classes to get information are unbiased and tell the facts without interpretation. 

Overall, the book is a great way to learn about the history of racism in the United States and shares a unique perspective on how history has affected the current events and social changes. The writing is engaging and the subject matter is interesting and important. “Stamped” is a must-read for every high school student.