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Derrick Dunn

Netflix’s in depth documentary Stamped From The Beginning Shatters the Myths and Reveals the truth

Stamped From the Beginning, directed by Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams, is a Netflix film adaptation of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s New York Times bestseller. The book, which won the National Book Award in 2016, delves into the extensive story of anti-Black racist ideas and their significant influence throughout American history.

Williams’ documentary adaptation utilizes a groundbreaking animation process that merges live action with the art of the era to shed light on well-known and obscure figures and events, both historical and contemporary. Prominent female scholars and activists, such as Dr. Angela Davis, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Dr. Jennifer L. Morgan, and Dr. Kendi, provide viewers with a powerful account of how racist stereotypes and imagery were created and institutionalized in American culture.

The documentary uses beautiful animation and compelling commentary to guide viewers through the lives of five significant historical figures. These individuals, who span from America’s colonial era to the present day, played essential roles in shaping racial thought in the country. Williams examines the ideas and ideologies of these figures, highlighting how their influence shaped public opinion, policies, and the overall racial discourse.

Stamped from the Beginning is notable for its director’s meticulous research and analysis. Williams uses text from Kendi’s book and delves into primary sources such as speeches, writings, and historical archives to present a well-supported and nuanced narrative. He skillfully connects individual beliefs and actions to larger societal patterns, enabling readers to understand how racism has been ingrained in American culture over time.

Moreover, the documentary challenges commonly held assumptions about racism by highlighting its systemic nature. He argues that racist ideas are not simply the product of individual prejudice but are actively perpetuated by institutions and policies. This perspective prompts readers to critically examine their beliefs and confront society’s deeply rooted racial biases.

The documentary presented a narrative that stood out to me. It explored the connection between the insatiable desires of enslavers and how it led to a downward spiral with a domino effect. I found it particularly eye-opening how this has influenced the entertainment industry’s portrayal of Black Women, often oversexualizing them in a negative light.

Kendi has a writing style that is both engaging and accessible, which helps to make complex historical concepts and theories more understandable to a broader audience. Williams’ expertise in visual storytelling combined with Kendi’s writing delivers a rigorous, informative, and thought-provoking analysis. The documentary is well-structured, guiding viewers through different periods while providing the necessary context to understand the discussed events.

Stamped from the Beginning is a crucial and potent documentary that urges viewers to tackle the entrenched racism woven into American history. It presents a thorough and insightful analysis of racist notions, illuminating how they have impacted the country’s past and persist in affecting it today.

Final Grade: A

Stamped from the Beginning is in limited theaters now and is available to stream this Friday on Netflix at netflix.com/stampedfromthebeginning

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