The Decline and Fall of a Race Hustler

Ibram X. Kendi, director of Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research, stands for a portrait Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Ibram X. Kendi exploded onto the scene in 2020 at the height of the riots over the death of George Floyd. He was black, urbane, intelligent, and most importantly, he was "authentic." 

Anger and rage poured off of him. He railed against racist whites. He railed against whites who didn't know they were racist. If "systemic racism" had a champion in the media, it was Kendi.

In 2019, Kendi wrote "How to Be an Anticracist" where he posited the notion that all actions are either racist or anti-racist. He used his media celebrity to start the Center for Antiracist Research in 2020. The race hustler knew exactly how to tap the motherlode. The Center received $40 million in donations in 2020.

What exactly the Center for Antiracist Research was supposed to do was unclear from the start. Kendi sold the Center as a "data repository" for racism and antiracism. The staff was as clueless as Kendi.

Between 2021 and 2023, the Center produced exactly two academic papers. Kendi was beginning to feel like a failure when he hired Yanique Redwood to become the Center's executive director.

Redwood was shocked at what she uncovered; sloppy bookkeeping, low staff morale, lack of direction, and no strategic planning. 

The New York Times Magazine did a deep dive into the Center for Antiracist Research and uncovered an abysmally-run, useless organization with no direction.

“Nothing was in place,” Redwood told the Times. “It was unbelievable that an institution like that, with so much spotlight on it, just did not have systems. I understood why I was being brought in.”

The American Spectator:

In September, Kendi was forced to make the “painful decision” to lay off half the staff at the Center for Antiracist Research. The public fallout was mired in allegations of corruption, misuse of funds, and numerous reports from employees of the center — hardly right-wingers themselves — that Kendi’s leadership style was controlling and abusive. While these revelations and the implosion of the center institutionalized the collapse of Kendi’s public brand, his actual ideas had discredited themselves long before — at least, to anyone with the capacity for basic critical thought. Even by the standards of left-wing “anti-racism” theory, his clumsy ideological justifications for the doctrine he became best known for — that any and all disparities are ipso facto proof of discrimination, and thus, effectively everything is racist — were pathetic, at times even seemingly half-hearted. (One got the sense, from reading Kendi, that he begins at the most convenient conclusions and reasons backward to find his arguments from there).

Thus, the modern race hustlers have learned how to get attention and more importantly, dollars. How they do it is as old as snake oil salesmen.

Race hustling has become the Great American Flim-Flam.

Kendi’s conclusions were the same conclusions that every political theory, tract, and program offered by the DEI regime arrives at: That black people — “people of color” more broadly, but particularly black people — simply can’t be held accountable for anything they do wrong, that their problems are entirely society’s fault, and that society must therefore reallocate near-infinite resources (preferably lifted directly from the pockets of white people) to lavish blacks with new privileges, programs, and set-asides, above and beyond the already absurd trillions of dollars that America (and particularly white America) has redirected towards its black minority already over the past 50 years. Never mind the fact that, as David Horowitz noted back in 2001, “Reparations to blacks [] have already been paid."

Related: Far Left Democrats Rail Against Biden's 'Shift to the Right' on the Border

Despite DEI falling out of favor on some campuses, it's still going strong in the corporate world. And the reason for that is simple; it's a suit of armor against race-based lawsuits.

This is why Kendi and his toxic faux-intellectualism will always be with us.


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