Ibram X. Kendi

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Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram Kendi 2019 Texas Book Festival.jpg
Kendi at the 2019 Texas Book Festival
Ibram Henry Rogers

(1982-08-13) August 13, 1982 (age 38)
Queens, New York City, U.S.
Sadiqa Kendi
(m. 2013)
Academic background
ThesisThe Black Campus Movement: An Afrocentric Narrative History of the Struggle to Diversify Higher Education, 1965-1972 (2010)
Doctoral advisorAma Mazama
Academic work
DisciplineAfrican-American studies
Sub-disciplineAfrican-American history

Ibram Xolani Kendi (born Ibram Henry Rogers, August 13, 1982)[1] is an American author, professor, anti-racist activist, and historian of race and discriminatory policy in America.[2][3][4] In July 2020, he assumed the position of director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.

Kendi was included in Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Kendi was born in the Jamaica neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens,[4][2][6] to Carol Rogers, a former health care business analyst for a health-care organization,[4] and Larry Rogers, a tax accountant and then hospital chaplain. Both of his parents are now retired and work as Methodist ministers.[4][7] He has an older brother, Akil.[4]

From third to eighth grade, Kendi attended private Christian schools in Queens.[8] After attending John Bowne High School as a freshman, at age 15, Kendi moved with his family to Manassas, Virginia in 1997 and attended Stonewall Jackson High School for his final three years of high school,[9] from which he was graduated in 2000.[7][8]

In 2005, Kendi received dual B.S. degrees in African American Studies and magazine production from Florida A&M University. In 2007, Kendi earned an M.A. and in 2010 a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University.[10] Kendi's dissertation was titled "The Black Campus Movement: An Afrocentric Narrative History of the Struggle to Diversify Higher Education, 1965-1972". His advisor was Ama Mazama.[1]



From 2008 to 2012, Kendi was an assistant professor of history in the department of Africana and Latino Studies within the department of history at State University of New York at Oneonta.[10] From 2012 to 2015, Kendi was an assistant professor of Africana Studies in the department of Africana Studies as well as the department of history at University at Albany, SUNY.[10] During this time, from 2013 to 2014, Kendi was a visiting scholar in the department of Africana Studies at Brown University, where he taught courses as a visiting assistant professor in the Fall of 2014.[10]

From 2015 to 2017, Kendi was an assistant professor at University of Florida department of history's African American Studies program.[10][11][12]

In 2017, Kendi became a professor of history and international relations at the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and School of International Service (SIS) at American University in Washington, D.C.[13] In September 2017, Kendi founded the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, serving as its executive director.[4] In June 2020, it was announced that Kendi would join Boston University as a professor of history.[14] Upon accepting the position, Kendi agreed to move the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University to Boston University, where he will serve as the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research.[15][16]

During the 2020–2021 academic year, Kendi will serve as the Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.[17]


Kendi has published essays in both books and academic journals, including The Journal of African American History, Journal of Social History, Journal of Black Studies, Journal of African American Studies, and The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture. Kendi is also a contributing writer at The Atlantic.[18]

He is the author of five books:

In 2016, Kendi won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for Stamped from the Beginning, which was published by Nation Books.[20] He was the youngest author to ever win the prize.[21] Titled after an 1860 speech given by Jefferson Davis at the U.S. Senate,[7][22] the book builds around the stories of historical figures Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, and W.E.B. Du Bois, as well as the current figure, Angela Davis.[4]

How to Be an Antiracist[edit]

Ibram X. Kendi presenting his new book How to Be an Antiracist at Unitarian Universalist Church located in Montclair, New Jersey, on August 14, 2019

A New York Times #1 Best Seller in 2020, How to Be an Antiracist is Kendi's most popular work thus far.[23]

Professor Jeffrey C. Stewart called it the "most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind".[24] Afua Hirsch praised the book's introspection and wrote that it was relatable in the context of ongoing political events.[25] In contrast, Andrew Sullivan and Coleman Hughes, writing for City Journal, gave negative reviews, contending that the book's arguments were simplistic. They also criticized Kendi's idea of transferring most government oversight to a Department of Antiracism, which Hughes called "openly totalitarian". While Hughes praised Kendi for taking "a refreshingly strong stand against anti-white racism in the book, rejecting the fashionable argument that blacks cannot be racist because they lack power", Hughes criticized the book for being "sloppily researched, insufficiently fact-checked, and occasionally self-contradictory".[26][27] Kelefa Sanneh noted Kendi's "sacred fervor" in battling racism, but wondered if his definition of racism was so capacious and outcome-dependent as to risk losing its power.[28]

Honors and awards[edit]

Political commentary[edit]

Policy changes vs racism education[edit]

Kendi argues that policy outcomes are central in measuring and effecting racial equity. He has said, “All along we've been trying to change people, when we really need to change policies."[30] When speaking in November 2020 to the Alliance for Early Success, Kendi was asked if that even means abiding racist behavior and attitudes if it leads to winning an antiracist policy. Kendi answered with a definitive yes. “I want things to change for millions of people – millions of children – as opposed to trying to change one individual person.”[31]

COVID-19 and George Floyd protests[edit]

On May 27, 2020, Kendi appeared before the United States House Committee on Ways and Means about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans, saying: “This is the racial pandemic within the viral pandemic”.[15][32][33]

Kendi has been a long-time outspoken critic of police-involved killings of black men and women.[15] In 2020, speaking to The New York Times after How to Be an Antiracist saw renewed interest during the George Floyd protests, Kendi called the mood in the United States during the protests "a signature, significant distinct moment of people striving to be antiracist".[34]

Before the protests, Kendi published a proposal for a Constitutional Amendment in the U.S. to establish and fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA). This department would be responsible for “preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate and be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas”.[35]

Comments on Amy Coney Barrett's children[edit]

Kendi provoked controversy when he tweeted about the relationship between Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's third Supreme Court nominee, and two of her seven children, who had been adopted from an orphanage in Haiti. Kendi said:

Some White colonizers 'adopted' Black children. They 'civilized' these 'savage' children in the 'superior' ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity. And whether this is Barrett or not is not the point. It is a belief too many White people have: if they have or adopt a child of color, then they can't be racist.[36]

His remarks were interpreted as criticizing interracial adoption.[37] Kendi's statement was echoed by white supremacist Richard Spencer, who retweeted it, saying "Not wrong".[37] A substantial backlash against Kendi ensued. He later said his comments were taken out of context and that he does not believe that white parents of black children are inherently racist.[38][39]

Personal life[edit]

In 2013, Kendi married Sadiqa Kendi, a pediatric emergency medicine physician,[4] in Jamaica in a ceremony officiated by Kendi's parents.[40] The wedding ceremony ended with a naming ceremony of their new last name, "Kendi", which means "the loved one" in the language of the Meru people of Kenya.[40] Kendi changed his middle name to Xolani, a Xhosa and Zulu word for "peace".[8][6]

In January 2018, a colonoscopy indicated that Kendi had cancer. A further test revealed that he had stage 4 colon cancer that had spread into his liver.[41] After six months of chemotherapy and surgery that summer, Kendi was declared cancer free.[42]

Kendi has been a vegan since at least 2015.[43]

Selected works and publications[edit]


  • 2012. The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-01650-8. OCLC 795781224.
  • 2016. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. New York: Nation Books. ISBN 978-1-568-58464-5. OCLC 946615694. Wikidata page Wikidata (View with Reasonator)
  • 2019. How to Be An Antiracist. New York: One World. ISBN 978-0-525-50929-5. OCLC 1112221532.
  • 2020. STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You, with Jason Reynolds. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-45367-7. OCLC 1140447496.
  • 2020. Antiracist Baby, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. New York: Kokila. ISBN 978-0-593-11050-8. OCLC 1143836565.
  • 2021. Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, edited with Keisha N. Blain. New York: One World. ISBN 978-0-593-13404-7. OCLC 1224592485

Selected academic papers[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

Video recordings[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rogers, Ibram Henry (November 2009). The Black Campus Movement: An Afrocentric Narrative History of the Struggle to Diversify Higher Education, 1965-1972 (PhD). Temple University.
  2. ^ a b O'Neal, Lonnae (20 September 2017). "Ibram Kendi, one of the nation's leading scholars of racism, says education and love are not the answer". The Undefeated.
  3. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (6 August 2019). "Ibram X. Kendi Has a Cure for America's 'Metastatic Racism'". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Montgomery, David (14 October 2019). "Historian Ibram X. Kendi has daring, novel ideas about the nature of racism — and how to fight it". The Washington Post Magazine.
  5. ^ Sharpton, Al. "Ibram X. Kendi: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  6. ^ a b "Bio: Ibram X. Kendi". Ibram X. Kendi. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Wescott, David (2 December 2016). "The Chronicle Review: Reframing Racism". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  8. ^ a b c d Kendi, Ibram X. (2019). How to Be an Antiracist. New York: One World. ISBN 978-0-525-50929-5. OCLC 1112221532.
  9. ^ Samuels, Christina A. (19 January 2000). "Students Give New Voice to King's Dream". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Curriculum Vitae: Ibram X. Kendi, Department of History African American Studies Program, University of Florida" (PDF). 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Ibram X. Kendi". University of Florida.
  12. ^ Stamey, Laura (1 April 2017). "Changemakers: Ibram X Kendi traces the toxin to its source". The Gainesville Sun.
  13. ^ Catania, Kaitie (10 May 2017). "Ibram X. Kendi Joins Faculty". American University.
  14. ^ Morrison, Jean; Sclaroff, Stanley (3 June 2020). "Dr. Ibram X. Kendi to Join Boston University" (PDF). Office of the Provost, Boston University.
  15. ^ a b c Most, Doug (4 June 2020). "University News: Ibram X. Kendi, Leading Scholar on Racism, to Join BU". BU Today. Boston University.
  16. ^ Fernandes, Deirdre (4 June 2020). "Noted scholar will move anti-racist research program to BU: Ibram X. Kendi has been recruited from American University". The Boston Globe.
  17. ^ a b "Ibram X. Kendi". Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. 10 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Ibram X. Kendi". The Atlantic. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  19. ^ Large, Jerry (5 December 2016). "New history clarifies the workings of racism; author Ibram X. Kendi shares his thoughts". The Seattle Times.
  20. ^ a b "National Book Awards 2016". National Book Foundation. 2016.
  21. ^ a b c "Ibram X. Kendi Named to Time 100 List of Most Influential People". Boston University. Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  22. ^ Kendi, Ibram X. (8 April 2016). "An Intellectual History of a Book Title: Stamped from the Beginning". Black Perspectives. African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS).
  23. ^ Egan, Elisabeth (June 11, 2020). "These Authors Are Glad You're Buying Their Books. Now Do the Work". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  24. ^ Stewart, Jeffrey C. (20 August 2019). "Fighting Racism Even, and Especially, Where We Don't Realize It Exists". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Hirsch, Afua (11 October 2019). "How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi review – a brilliantly simple argument". The Guardian.
  26. ^ Sullivan, Andrew (15 November 2019). "A glimpse at the intersectional left's political endgame". New York Magazine.
  27. ^ Hughes, Coleman (27 October 2019). "How to Be an Anti-intellectual". City Journal. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020.
  28. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (19 August 2019). "The fight to redefine racism". The New Yorker. If the word “racist” is capacious enough to describe both proud slaveholders and Barack Obama, and if it nevertheless must constantly be recalibrated in light of new policy research, then it may start to lose the emotional resonance that gives it power in the first place.
  29. ^ "Fellow: Ibram X. Kendi". John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. 2019.
  30. ^ Alliance for Early Success, Ibram Kendi Tells Early Childhood Advocates It’s All About Outcomes, Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  31. ^ Alliance for Early Success, Ibram Kendi Tells Early Childhood Advocates It’s All About Outcomes, Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  32. ^ "The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color". Ways and Means Committee - Democrats. United States House Committee on Ways and Means. 27 May 2020.
  33. ^ Kendi, Ibram X. (27 May 2020). "The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color House Ways and Means Committee; Testimony of Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D., American University" (PDF). United States House Committee on Ways and Means.
  34. ^ Egan, Elisabeth (11 June 2020). "These Authors Are Glad You're Buying Their Books. Now Do the Work". The New York Times.
  35. ^ Kendi, Ibram X. (2019). "Pass an Anti-Racist Constitutional Amendment". Politico. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  36. ^ Lemon, Jason (September 27, 2020). "Why Ibram Kendi Is Facing a Backlash Over a Tweet About Amy Coney Barrett's Adopted Haitian Children". Newsweek. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  37. ^ a b Myers, Fraser (September 30, 2020). "Ibram X Kendi: when wokes and white supremacists agree". Spiked. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  38. ^ Woods, Amanda (September 28, 2020). "BU professor ripped after he implies Amy Coney Barrett is a 'white colonizer'". New York Post. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  39. ^ Enloe, Chris (September 26, 2020). "The backlash is intense after left-wing author suggests Amy Coney Barrett adopted Haitian children to shield herself from accusations of racism". The Blaze. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  40. ^ a b Penn, Charli (30 October 2013). "Bridal Bliss: Sadiqa and Ibram". Essence.
  41. ^ "This is the Calling of My Life". Boston University. Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  42. ^ Goodman, Amy; Kendi, Ibram X. (15 February 2019). "Ibram X. Kendi on surviving cancer and his anti-racist reading list for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam". Democracy Now.
  43. ^ Rieck, Kami (June 20, 2020). "Ibram X. Kendi on how to build an antiracist movement". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 24, 2020.

External links[edit]