'Antiracism' Advocate Ibram X. Kendi Wins MacArthur 'Genius' Grant

Author of 'Antiracist Baby' has called for a constitutional amendment to ban 'racial inequity'

Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi / Getty Images
September 28, 2021

"Antiracism" proponent Ibram X. Kendi on Tuesday received a "genius" grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The grants of $625,000 each allow 25 "people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations," the foundation says. Past winners include scientists, mathematicians, and historians.

Kendi, the author of How to Be an Antiracist and Antiracist Baby, charges $20,000 per speaking engagement. He has argued that race-blind policies are racist, that racist speech is violence, and that the United States is an inherently racist country. He said at an October 2020 Harvard seminar that the question "Why does racial inequality exist?" is itself racist and implied that all "antiracists" must be anti-capitalist.

One solution to "the original sin of racism," Kendi has proposed, is a constitutional amendment that would ban "racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials."

Kendi has a history of receiving grants for goals that never materialize. In 2019, when he worked at American University, he received Ford Foundation grants of $50,000 and $200,000 to develop an "antiracist" guidebook and a "National Antibigotry Project," respectively, both of which were never completed. His Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American, which he created but did not run, took in tens of thousands of dollars from liberal foundations but published no research. He now runs another "antiracist" center at Boston University to which Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey gave $10 million in August.

Kendi is not the only purveyor of "antiracism" to be deemed a MacArthur "genius." Comic book writer and former journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, who became famous for supporting slavery reparations, received the grant in 2015.