I have read a couple of Jason Reynold’s books, and I like his young adult writing, even if I am not reading much young adult literature lately. And I have appreciated the two of Kendi’s books I have read (Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist).
Stamped is clearly Kendi’s ideas and Reynold’s words and style. It is framed in Kendi’s structure of there being three approaches to race, segregation, assimilation, and antiracism.
The antiracists say there is nothing wrong or right about Black people and everything wrong with racism. The antiracists say racism is the problem in need of changing, not Black people. The antiracists try to transform racism. The assimilationists try to transform Black people. The segregationists try to get away from Black people.
But what is helpful with Kendi’s approach is that he does not understand these three positions as fixed identities, but as he says in How to be an Antiracist, these are more like a “sticky name tag” that you can put on and take off, sometimes in a single day. Here Reynolds says:
…it’s important to note, life can rarely be wrapped into single-word descriptions. It isn’t neat and perfectly shaped. So sometimes, over the course of a lifetime (and even over the course of a day), people can take on and act out ideas represented by more than one of these three identities. Can be both, and. Just keep that in mind as we explore these folks.
From these basics, the rough content is similar to Stamped from the Beginning starting with early slavery in Portugal and then Spain, the colonialism of the New World, and the use of both Indigenous American and African slaves there. Reynolds then focuses on the ideas that justified slavery through Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, and others.
Eventually, the story proceeds to assimilationists and then slowly toward actual antiracism. I read this in part to see if this was a better recommendation for adults than the relatively long and academic Stamped from the Beginning. And while I think this is a good book for young adults and the content is good, I mostly would recommend Stamped from the Beginning.