Sunday, February 26, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt twelve)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

Weeks before Americans ran out to see Rocky, though, they ran out to buy Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family. And those who did not want to slog through the 704-page tome that claimed the No. 1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller List watched the even more popular television adaptation that started airing on ABC in January 1977, becoming the most watched show in US television history. Roots: The Saga of an American Family shared the thrilling, tragic, and tumultuous story of Kunta Kinte, from his kidnapping in Gambia to his brutal crippling, which ended his incessant runaway attempts in Virginia. Claiming Kinte as his actual ancestor, Haley followed his life and the life of his descendants in US history down to himself. For African American in the radiance of Black Power’s broadening turn to antiracist Pan-African ideas, and starved for knowledge about their life before and during slavery, Roots was a megahit, one of the most influential works of the twentieth century. Roots unearthed legions of racist ideas of backward Africa, of civilizing American slavery, of the contented slave, of stupid and imbruted slaves, of loose enslaved women, and of African American roots in slavery. The plantation genre of happy mammies and Sambos was gone with the wind.

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