Netflix brings Dr Ibram X Kendi’s books to the screen
James R | On 16, Jan 2021
Netflix is partnering acclaimed author and antiracist scholar Dr Ibram X. Kendi to produce three new projects based on his bestselling books.
Ranging across different formats and genres, the three projects offers an examination of racism for audiences of all ages.
Stamped from the Beginning, a hybrid documentary/scripted feature based on Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas, will be directed and produced by Oscar and Emmy Award-winner Roger Ross Williams (The Innocence Files, The Apollo, Life, Animated, Music by Prudence) through his production company One Story Up and executive produced by NAACP Image Award-winner Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends, The Game, Being Mary Jane).
Some Americans cling to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America – more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. Kendi argues in the book that if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, a companion documentary to Stamped from the Beginning aimed at younger viewers, is based on the #1 New York Times bestseller for young adults of the same name by Kendi and Jason Reynolds, and will be directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams. It aims to take young viewers on a race journey, exploring how we got here, why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers.
Antiracist Baby, a series of animated vignettes set to music for preschoolers based on Kendi’s bestselling children’s book of the same name, will be executive produced by Peabody, Humanitas, NAACP and Emmy Award-winner Chris Nee (Doc McStuffins, Vampirina). It leverage the power of earwormy songs to empower kids and their caregivers with simple tools to uproot racism in ourselves and society.
Kendi, who will serve as executive producer on all three projects, says: “I’m elated these projects landed at Netflix. What a wonderful partner. I’m elated to work with Roger Ross Williams, Mara Brock Akil, and Chris Nee. They are such ambitious, innovative, and passionate creators who are committed to racial justice. But I’m really elated for the viewers, for the adults and children who will be captivated, informed, and transformed by these projects.”
Williams adds: “Stamped from the Beginning and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You are powerful and essential pieces of literature that clearly outline how deeply rooted racist ideas are in the United States. I hope these films crystallise Kendi’s message that ‘the only thing wrong with Black people is that they think something is wrong with Black people’ and encourage everyone to fight for a more equitable society. I am thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring Kendi’s incredible work and crucial insights to a broader audience.”
Nee comments: “I feel deeply honored to have a chance to help deepen the impact of Kendi’s work. We are living in tumultuous times and it is incumbent on all of us to use our platforms to make the world a better place. Antiracist Baby aligns perfectly with the values of my company, Laughing Wild and Netflix as a whole, and we are excited to be a vehicle through which it can continue to influence the world for the better.”