2021–2022 Common Read: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You



“We can't attack a thing we don't know. That's dangerous. And...foolish. It would be like trying to chop down a tree from the top of it. If we understand how the tree works, how the trunk and roots are where the power lies, and how gravity is on our side, we can attack it, each of us with small axes, and change the face of the forest.” —Jason Reynolds

After Black Lives Matter protests went worldwide last summer after years of community organizing, we saw statement after statement come out from organizations and institutions pledging to do better for racial justice, including our own university. Everyone reacted differently, in shock, anger, grief, action.

One reaction we refuse is denial. We believe the only way to build a better world is recognizing the current one. That’s why our common theme for incoming freshmen this year will be “This is America,” an unflinching recognition that the cycles of police brutality and systemic racism are not incidental but rather endemic to America. We believe it is vital for us to understand our country as it currently is in order for us to move towards the vision of what it could be. For this reason, we’ve chosen Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, And You by Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds for our common text.

In this remix of Dr. Kendi’s nationally-acclaimed Stamped from the Beginning, Kendi and Reynolds take a deep dive into the history of antiblack racism manifesting into violent realities and unveil startlingly similar parallels with the issues we currently face. But make no mistake. The two award-winning authors are adamant: this is not a history book. “This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.” To call this book timely would be an insult: it is nothing less than foundational to our understanding of this country.

We chose Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You because this was the book many of us, professors, students, faculty, and alumni alike, wish we’d had in our U.S. history classes. We chose this book because more than just understanding the present, Reynolds and Kendi build a path towards a future that acknowledges our present while refusing to repeat our past. An antiracist future.

Lilli Hime
St. Edward’s Alumni, Class of 2019

Author Jason Reynolds

In April 2021, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You author Jason Reynolds delivered the keynote address at the Holy Cross Institute's annual convocation. Hear what he has to say about the most important part of his book and being an anti-racist.