Respect the hustle: Kendi's 'rocket ship' crashed but all the checks cleared

Respect the hustle: Kendi's 'rocket ship' crashed but all the checks cleared

Ibram X. Kendi

Respect the hustle: Kendi's 'rocket ship' crashed but all the checks cleared

The controversial “anti-racist” scholar Ibram X. Kendi is in big trouble after millions of dollars are unaccounted for at Boston University but a critic of the alleged fraudster says the real people to blame are the ones who foolishly wrote him a check.

Kendi will probably blame white supremacy and institutional racism, which are topics that made him wealthy, but the author of “How to be an Antiracist” is in real trouble. At his own Center for Antiracist Research, founded in 2020, tens of millions of dollars flowed to Kendi himself in just three years but there are no funds to pay staff members, who are now being laid off. Those staffers are also claiming they were mistreated. 

Saida Grundy, an associate professor at BU who joined the center, told The Boston Globe it didn’t take long to learn the center was poorly run.

“It became very clear after I started that this was exploitative and other faculty experienced the same and worse,” Grundy complained.

Kendi, whose real name is Henry Rogers, was demanding as much as $30,000 to speak at a university campus or a corporate headquarters. In his speeches the racism scholar lectures white people they are naturally racist toward minorities but assures them can fight being racist, which he calls "anti-racist." He also suggests to white audiences that being "not-racist" is not possible because that implies neutrality from people who are already racist. 

"One either endorses the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist or racial equality as an antiracist," Kendi argues in his book. 

Conservatives have laughed at Kendi's circular argument, which depends on more white guilt and less logic, but liberal audiences believed Kendi and paid big money to hear him and to help him. 

Terris Todd, an author and education expert at Project 21, tells AFN the supposed research center raked in millions in donations because donors were duped into believing they were fighting racism.

“It's an industry that, basically, is a hustle. It's a way to get paid,” says Todd.

A pioneer of the so-called “race hustle” is Jesse Jackson, now 81, who founded the group Rainbow/PUSH in the 1980s. One of Jackson’s most famous targets was Anheuser-Busch, which at the time had very few minority-owned distributorships. Shamed by Jackson and his accusations, the famous beer company made peace with its vocal critic by giving two distributorships to Jackson’s two sons.

Kendi’s center started with a huge donation from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who gave $10 million three years ago just weeks after the center was founded.

“For Jack to commit to us and to trust us and invest in us, I’m still coming to grips with it,” Kendi beamed at the time.

Jean Morrison, BU’s provost, predicted Dorsey’s funding would help the center take off “like a rocket ship.”

Todd, Terris (Heritage) Todd

The center has only produced two research papers in three years and no one can seem to find an online database of racial inequity data in the United States, which is its core mission.

Todd says perhaps that's because there's nowhere near as much racism in the country as is claimed by Kendi and other race hustlers.

“Most black Americans - and just most Americans in general - are waking up to the fact that our country is not a systemically racist country,” Todd insists.