As its title suggests, Stamped from the Beginning is a book about racism. Particularly, the book is about how racism was deeply ingrained in America: how racism and racist ideas were created, how they spread, and how they took roots in American society. In using and comparing ideas from intellectuals like Thomas Jefferson and W.E.B. Du Bois, Kendi makes the argument that the notion of a post-racial society is false - that racism is alive and well, but more sophisticated than it was in the past.
When it was released, Stamped from the Beginning received extremely positive reviews. Kirkus Reviews, for example, loved the book, saying that "Racism is the enduring scar on the American consciousness. In this ambitious, magisterial book, Kendi reveals just how deep that scar cuts and why it endures, its barely subcutaneous pain still able to flare." The Atlantic thought similarly, writing that Stamped from the Beginning is "A deep (and often disturbing) chronicling of how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society."