September 20, 2023

Race Huckster’s Grift Runs Into Financial Trouble

Woke antiracism activist and author Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research is laying off employees despite pulling in millions of dollars in donations.

Grievance grifting has long been plied by individuals who resemble confidence men in every way except for the fact that the yarns and outright lies they weave are accepted as legal. In the American context, the most successful type of grievance grift is that which thrives upon the nation’s great moral stain — our history of slavery.

After slavery had ended and the rights of American Liberty had been legally extended to those former slaves, Booker T. Washington famously observed that among poor blacks there were some who realized that they could enrich themselves by preying on the emotions of others over sins of the past.

In his book My Larger Education, Washington wrote: “There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”

Ever since Washington made this observation, the class of race huckster has endured. First it was W.E.B. Du Bois in Washington’s own day, and then Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Today’s new generation of hucksters includes Ibram X. Kendi. Collectively, what all these folks knew was that there’s fame and fortune to be gained in the racism grift.

Kendi is a 41-year-old New York City native and university professor who rose to prominence following the success of his book, How to Be an Antiracist, published in 2019 during his time at American University in Washington, DC. He then rose further in the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd.

Moving to Boston University, Kendi entered into a partnership creating the Center for Antiracist Research. Riding the outpouring of “antiracism” virtue signaling, Kendi’s center received millions of dollars in donations. Of note, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey gave $10 million, while another $1.5 million came in from the Rockefeller Foundation and $1.5 million from biotech company Vertex.

Not only was Kendi riding high off his book sales, a book in which he promoted critical race theory as if it were the Gospel, but he was also raking in millions from white leftists seeking any way to purge themselves of white guilt.

According to Kendi, the only way to end racism was with more racism, or what many have noted is simply a repackaging of reverse racism. In Kendi’s view, the victimizer or oppressor must now become the victim or the oppressed. Only then will “justice” come.

Well, just three years later, Kendi’s center is collapsing. Recent news reports note that the center has laid off between 15 and 30 of its 45 employees. And some of those former employees are now speaking out.

Spencer Piston, who was the faculty lead at the center’s policy office, stated regarding the collapse: “There are a number of ways it got to this point. It started very early on when the university decided to create a center that rested in the hands of one human being, an individual given millions of dollars and so much authority.” Another former employee, who is an associate professor in Boston University’s African American & Black Diaspora Studies, was even more critical, claiming that from its start the center lacked structure and overworked people. “It became very clear after I started that this was exploitative and other faculty experienced the same and worse.”

Christopher Rufo, who has done yeoman’s work to confront and dismantle the influence of the inherently racist CRT in America’s halls of higher education, found the news unsurprising. “Ibram Kendi’s ‘antiracism’ center is collapsing,” Rufo he noted. “He hired a bunch of left-wing academics that produced almost no research, but complained that he was ‘exploitative’ and forced them to work too hard. Now he’s laid off nearly half of the employees and they’re trashing him publicly.”

About that “research,” The Washington Free Beacon reports, “The group’s plans to ‘maintain the nation’s largest online database of racial inequity data in the United States’ quickly fizzled out, and the database has been dormant since 2021.” Only two research papers, co-authored with outside academics, and two other “policy reports” have come from the center.

Meanwhile, as the center collapses and transitions into a “fellowship model,” Kendi himself will remain employed at the university, guaranteeing that his racial grifting will continue unabated. All grifting does is create narratives to further grievances, because that’s where the money is. And grifters don’t ever offer any real solutions because doing so would put them out business.

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