There is nothing I can say to do this book justice. Let's start here: certain books change our life, our perspective, our understanding, and bring us to a new level as moral human beings. This is one of those books (The Invisible Man and Between the World and Me come to mind as well). But this was the best book I've ever read on racism in America, bar none. I enjoyed Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, and this is similar, but Stamped is much better in terms of scope and writing style, ambition and courage.
Do not be fooled or scared by the length of the book. I devoured every single page and, wanting more, began reading it again. It reads fast, like a short book with huge ambition - it chronicles the entire history of racist ideas in America, and it does so brilliantly to a popular audience. From sipping English tea and trading slaves to the Americas, to Barak Obama as president, all ideas about race are analyzed and put into their historical context (to name one: "law and order")
Some main ideas to chew on. First, ideas about race come in three flavors (a) antiracist ideas, which means roughly "there's nothing wrong with Black people." hint: that's the correct position. (b) segregationist ideas, "there's something inherently wrong with Black people", and (c) assimilationist ideas, "there's something wrong with Black people, but we can fix it, and they probably need to be more White." The book is a case study in how wrong, insidious, and powerful assimilationist ideas are throughout our history. Second, Black folks can be racist towards black people. Ideas don't discriminate and we are all swimming in the same pool. Indeed, the author begins the book by saying he had several racist ideas that he had to shed during the writing of the book. He drank some of the kool-aid, without even knowing it. A big part of the book is boldly calling out these ideas. He is not soft on historical figures. History has always had antiracist ideas and racist ideas. Third, most of the solutions we have tried have not worked, sadly. Pointing at successful Black people and saying "see! look!" hasn't worked (and has the opposite affect). And educating White people hasn't worked either. Kendi believes nothing less than a massive, grassroots movement (e.g. Black Power, Black Lives Matter) which forces powerful people to end discrimination will work. And having truly antiracist people in power is the only long-term solution. End discrimination, he says, and you end racism and racist ideas about Black people.