Much like the crooked Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation before it, author and agitator Ibram X. Kendi’s noxious “anti-racism” grift has imploded at Boston University.
After three years of existence and tens of millions of dollars in funding, Kendi’s organization reportedly is falling apart.
Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research received, at minimum, $43 million in grants and donations since it went into operation in 2020, according to the Boston University’s student newspaper, The Daily Free Press.
“The $43 million, according to 2021 budget records obtained by The Daily Free Press, includes general support, such as the $10 million from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, as well as donations for specific projects,” the student newspaper reported.
Kendi’s center had the budget of a small market sports franchise, which is a lot of money for an ambiguous research institute. The production that Boston University got for this massive investment ended up to be about the same as my beloved but hapless Oakland A’s.
Kendi’s organization is now laying off staff en masse.
“There’s a mismatch between the amount of money that [the Center for Antiracist Research] has received from these grants and what they’ve actually produced,” an anonymous source told The Daily Free Press. “You can juxtapose that with other research centers either at BU or other universities that have received a tiny fraction of what CAR has received and has produced a lot more.”
It appears that, for all its money, Kendi’s anti-racism center produced next to nothing. Former employees are publicly burying it.
“It’s not that Kendi tried and failed to generate meaningful scholarly output; he seems to have had no interest in doing so to begin with—and no concept of what would have been involved if he tried,” writes Spencer Klavan at the Spectator.
Really, what did Kendi’s backers expect?
At no point has he ever been expected to prove his thesis with data or information. Academia never questioned the fundamental premise of Kendi’s ideology, especially after the “racial reckoning” of 2020. Any who did within the official institutions of approved thought would have found themselves quickly banished for thought crimes.
The legacy media praised Kendi breathlessly. In the few cases in which he’s been called on to defend his more ridiculous ideas—like how lowering capital gains taxes is a racist policy—his unsatisfactory answers never got a follow-up.
He was treated not as a scholar or researcher but as the Rasputin of anti-racism. Even at that, he’s been woefully deficient. He got tens of thousands of dollars for short speaking engagements and a huge contract from Netflix.
Still, there was nothing to show for it.
At an extremely friendly Aspen Ideas festival event, Kendi was asked to define “racism.” The venerated swami of our woke elite answered: “I would define it as a collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity that are substantiated by racist ideas.”
According to Kendi racism is defined as doing a racism, leading to racism, the result being racism and inequity, which is racism. Got it?
I will give Kendi his due in one sense. His ideas have become akin to official orthodoxy in our country’s public and private institutions. That’s more a product of our institutions looking for someone to say what Kendi would say rather than his unique and insightful brilliance.
He just took advantage of the situation and sold them the snake oil they’d been yearning for.
For a refresher on Kendi’s worldview, I’ll point to my review of his book, “How to Be an Antiracist.” This book, alongside “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, became a kind of foundational tract for college-educated liberals burning with the fire of the Great Awokening.
Kendi’s work revolved around three main concepts: First, that racism had to be redefined. It was no longer good enough to simply not be racist. There are only two modes of thought, Kendi wrote: racist and anti-racist. Denying you are a racist can actually make you a racist—the classic Kafka trap.
Second, anti-racists such as Kendi have posited that “colorblindness” in dealing with race is itself racism. You must see race all the time, recognize it, then address it. Under the anti-racist rubric, race becomes the defining feature of human existence.
Third, Kendi wrote that the way to deal with past discrimination is present discrimination. In addition, literally any racial discrepancies in society, according to Kendi, are a product of racism. To be a good anti-racist, you really must be the right kind of racist.
Here’s what Kendi wrote in his book:
If discrimination is creating equity, then it is anti-racist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. Someone reproducing inequity through permanently assisting an overrepresented racial group into wealth and power is entirely different than someone challenging that inequity by temporarily assisting an underrepresented racial group into relative wealth and power until equity is reached. The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.
To think that one can tinker with society to ensure perfect racial equity in all situations makes traditional Marxism seem downright pragmatic.
Did it matter that Kendi’s project was philosophically absurd, in practice discriminatory and tyrannical? Not at all.
Big money and big institutions went all in on this project.
Millions of Kendi’s books have flooded American bookstores and libraries, most of them now gathering dust.
Our technocracy needs a reason for being. Symbolically fighting against racism is what gives their institutions credibility and authority in an age where basic competence appears to be waning.
The regime found a man and a movement with an almost limitless definition of what would count as “racist,” and therefore had a blank check to pursue the goal of stamping it out and justifying the its existence. DEI bureaucracies proliferated.
At some point, reality starts to intervene. The anti-racism movement is more akin to a cult than antyhing else, with limitless ends and that would ultimately require totalitarian means to produce.
Unfortunately, this cult attracted many adherents in high places.
On a larger scale, Kendiism has meant that our society has become more racialized and hateful. By embracing his ideas, our institutions increasingly will find themselves bumping up against the U.S. Constitution.
The Supreme Court already has declared racial discrimination in college admissions unconstitutional. Corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion programs also have been called into question and eventually may face a similar court test.
You can see why the Left hates the current Supreme Court so much.
Does this setback mean that our elite institutions suddenly will abandon the DEI regime? Absolutely not. Corporate America may tire of losing money, but higher education and public bureaucracies–given a blank check of taxpayer money by politicians–will continue to promote the revolution.
They’ll ignore the backlash and carry on.
Still, we see plenty of signs that Americans are fed up with the poisonous ideas of Kendi and his fellow travelers. A critical mass of opposition is building, composed of those who’ve become contemptuous of the grift that has elevated and enriched fanatics and con men.
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