Ibram X. Kendi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram Henry Rogers

(1982-08-13) August 13, 1982 (age 41)
New York City, U.S.
Sadiqa Kendi
(m. 2013)
Academic background
EducationFlorida A&M University (BS)
Temple University (MA, PhD)
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
WebsiteOfficial website

Ibram Xolani Kendi (born Ibram Henry Rogers; August 13, 1982) is an American author, professor, anti-racist activist, and historian of race and discriminatory policy in America.[1][2][3] In July 2020, he founded the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University where he serves as director.[4] Kendi was included in Time'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,[3][1][6] as Ibram Henry Rogers, to middle-class parents, Carol Rogers, a former business analyst for a health-care organization,[3] and Larry Rogers, a tax accountant and then hospital chaplain. Both of his parents are now retired and work as Methodist ministers.[3][7] He has an older brother, Akil.[3]

From third to eighth grade, Kendi attended private Christian schools in Queens.[8] In 1997, then age 15, Kendi moved with his family to Manassas, Virginia, after having attended John Bowne High School as a freshman. He attended Stonewall Jackson High School for his final three years of high school and graduated in 2000.[9][7][8]

In 2005, Kendi received dual B.S. degrees in African American Studies and magazine production from Florida A&M University.[10] At Florida A&M he wrote a weekly column for the student newspaper The Famuan and also interned with the Tallahassee Democrat. His Famuan column was discontinued at the request of the Democrat after he wrote an article claiming European people had invented HIV/AIDS to fight off the "extinction" of their race.[11] Kendi continued his studies at Temple University where he was advised by Ama Mazama, earning an M.A. in 2007 and a Ph.D. in 2010, both in African American Studies.[10] Kendi's dissertation was titled "The Black Campus Movement: An Afrocentric Narrative History of the Struggle to Diversify Higher Education, 1965-1972."[12]



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 the University of Florida history department's African American Studies program.[10][13][14]

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.[15] In September 2017, Kendi founded the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, serving as its executive director.[3] In June 2020, it was announced that Kendi would join Boston University as a professor of history.[16] Upon accepting the position, Kendi agreed to move the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University to Boston University, as founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research.[17][18]

During the 2020–2021 academic year, Kendi served as the Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.[19]

Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University[edit]

Kendi is the founding director of Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research, which was launched in 2020.[20] In August 2020, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey donated $10 million to the center; the center received $43 million in grants and gifts over the next 3 years.[21]

The center's Racial Data Lab produced the COVID Racial Data Tracker from April 2020 to March 2021, highlighting that Black Americans died at 1.4 times the rate of White Americans during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.[21] In 2021, inspired by 19th-century abolitionist newspaper The Emancipator, the center launched a news website also called The Emancipator in partnership with Bina Venkataraman of The Boston Globe.[22] In June 2022, the center published essays from 35 Anti-bigotry Fellows, which provided legal and statistical analysis on various forms of discrimination.[21]

Mismanagement allegations[edit]

In September 2023, Kendi announced mass layoffs of the center's staff. Boston University then announced that they had opened an inquiry "focused on the center's culture and its grant management practices" and are "expanding our inquiry to include the Center's management culture and the faculty and staff's experience with it."[21][23][24]

On September 24, 2023, Stephanie Saul of The New York Times wrote:

The center's struggles come amid deeper concerns about its management and focus, and questions about whether Dr. Kendi—whose fame has brought him new projects from an ESPN series to children's books about racist ideas in America—was providing the leadership the newly created institute needed. Until the university established the center, the 41-year-old Dr. Kendi had never run an organization anywhere near its size … several former staff and faculty members, expressing anger and bitterness, said the cause of the center's problems were unrealistic expectations fueled by the rapid infusion of money, initial excitement, and pressure to produce too much, too fast, even as there were hiring delays due to the pandemic. Others blamed Dr. Kendi, himself, for what they described as an imperious leadership style. And they questioned both the center's stewardship of grants and its productivity. "Commensurate to the amount of cash and donations taken in, the outputs were minuscule," said Saida U. Grundy, a Boston University sociology professor and feminist scholar who was once affiliated with the center.[25]

In the course of the investigation, other professors at Boston University who worked at the center have attested to the center's issues, with one alleging that the center "was being mismanaged"[26] and another commenting, "I don't know where the money is."[27] Steph Solis of Axios noted that the scandal "cast a shadow" over the center,[27] while Tyler Austin Harper, writing for The Washington Post, characterized Kendi's work at the center as "grift."[28]

In November 2023, Boston University announced that its audit had "found no issues with how CAR’s finances were handled, showing that its expenditures were appropriately charged to their respective grant and gift accounts." In the same announcement, the university stated that it had hired the management consulting firm Korn Ferry to conduct an audit on the center's workplace culture and Kendi's leadership.[29][30]


Kendi at the 2019 Texas Book Festival

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.[31]

He is the author of six books:

In 2016, Kendi won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for Stamped from the Beginning, which was published by Nation Books.[33][34] He was the youngest author to ever win the prize.[35] Titled after an 1860 speech given by Jefferson Davis at the U.S. Senate,[7][36] the book builds around the stories of Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Angela Davis.[3]

How to Be an Antiracist[edit]

Ibram X. Kendi presenting his 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.[37] Professor Jeffrey C. Stewart called it the "most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind".[38] Afua Hirsch praised the book's introspection and wrote that it was relatable in the context of ongoing political events.[39] In contrast, Andrew Sullivan wrote that the book's arguments were simplistic and criticized Kendi's idea of transferring government oversight to an unelected Department of Antiracism.[40] 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.[11] John McWhorter criticized the book as being simplistic and challenged Kendi's claim that all racial disparities are necessarily due to racism.[41]

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."[45] 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."[45]

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".[17][46][47]

Kendi has criticized police killings.[17] 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".[48]

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".[49]

Comments on Amy Coney Barrett's children[edit]

Kendi provoked controversy when he tweeted about 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:[50]

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.

His remarks were interpreted as criticizing interracial adoption. A substantial backlash against Kendi ensued. He later said his comments were taken out of context and that he had never said that white parents of black children are inherently racist.[51][52][53][54]

Personal life[edit]

In 2013, Kendi married Sadiqa Edmonds, a pediatric emergency medicine physician,[3] in Jamaica. Both sets of parents participated in a symbolic sand ceremony.[55] 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.[55] 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.[56] After six months of chemotherapy and surgery that summer, Kendi was declared cancer free.[57]

Kendi has been a vegan since at least 2015.[58]

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 ()
  • 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
  • 2022. How to Raise an Antiracist. New York: One World. ISBN 978-0-593-24253-7. OCLC 1311591831.
  • 2022. Goodnight Racism. New York: Kokila. ISBN 978-0593110515. OCLC 1330205594.

Selected academic papers[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

Video recordings[edit]


  1. ^ a b O'Neal, Lonnae (September 20, 2017). "Ibram Kendi, one of the nation's leading scholars of racism, says education and love are not the answer". Andscape. Archived from the original on October 19, 2022. Retrieved July 16, 2022.
  2. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (August 6, 2019). "Ibram X. Kendi Has a Cure for America's 'Metastatic Racism'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 19, 2022. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Montgomery, David (October 14, 2019). "Historian Ibram X. Kendi has daring, novel ideas about the nature of racism — and how to fight it". The Washington Post Magazine. Archived from the original on October 19, 2022. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  4. ^ "Ibram X. Kendi Joins the History Department at CAS". Boston University. Archived from the original on March 29, 2023. Retrieved March 29, 2023.
  5. ^ Sharpton, Al (September 22, 2020). "Ibram X. Kendi: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Bio: Ibram X. Kendi". Ibram X. Kendi. Archived from the original on May 31, 2020. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Wescott, David (December 2, 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. (January 19, 2000). "Students Give New Voice to King's Dream". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Curriculum Vitae: Ibram X. Kendi, Department of History African American Studies Program, University of Florida" (PDF). 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 14, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Sanneh, Kelefa (August 19, 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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Ibram X. Kendi". Department of History; University of Florida. Archived from the original on June 12, 2020.
  14. ^ Stamey, Laura (April 1, 2017). "Changemakers: Ibram X Kendi traces the toxin to its source". The Gainesville Sun.
  15. ^ Catania, Kaitie (May 10, 2017). "Ibram X. Kendi Joins Faculty". American University.
  16. ^ Morrison, Jean; Sclaroff, Stanley (June 3, 2020). "Dr. Ibram X. Kendi to Join Boston University" (PDF). Office of the Provost, Boston University.
  17. ^ a b c Most, Doug (June 4, 2020). "University News: Ibram X. Kendi, Leading Scholar on Racism, to Join BU". BU Today. Boston University.
  18. ^ Fernandes, Deirdre (June 4, 2020). "Noted scholar will move anti-racist research program to BU: Ibram X. Kendi has been recruited from American University". The Boston Globe.
  19. ^ a b "Ibram X. Kendi". Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. March 10, 2020.
  20. ^ Dearing, Tizaiana; Citorik, Chris (July 7, 2020). "Ibram X. Kendi Launches New Center For Antiracist Research At Boston University". WBUR-FM.
  21. ^ a b c d Farrar, Molly; Evans, Lydia (September 21, 2023). "Amid Mass Layoffs, BU Center for Antiracist Research Accused of Mismanagement of Funds, Disorganization". The Daily Free Press. Retrieved September 26, 2023.
  22. ^ Smith, Ben (March 21, 2021). "He Redefined 'Racist.' Now He's Trying to Build a Newsroom". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  23. ^ "Following layoffs, Boston University announced 'inquiry' into Ibram Kendi's Antiracist Center". The Boston Globe. September 20, 2023.
  24. ^ Decosimo, David (September 28, 2023). "Opinion | How Ibram X. Kendi Broke Boston University". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 1, 2023.
  25. ^ Saul, Stephanie (September 23, 2023). "An Ambitious Antiracism Center Scales Back Amid Allegations of Poor Management". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 30, 2023.
  26. ^ Solis, Steph (September 21, 2023). "Ibram X. Kendi defends antiracism center, says layoffs "devastated" him". Axios. Retrieved October 1, 2023.
  27. ^ a b Damiano, Mike; Burns, Hilary. "Following layoffs, Boston University announces 'inquiry' into Ibram Kendi's Antiracist Center". The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 1, 2023.
  28. ^ Harper, Tyler Austin (September 28, 2023). "Ibram X. Kendi's fall is a cautionary tale — so was his rise". Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 28, 2023. Retrieved October 6, 2023. But though I don't condone Kendi's race grift, I do understand how easy it would be to become a grifter.
  29. ^ Most, Doug (November 7, 2023). "Audit Finds No Issues, Concerns with Finances at Center for Antiracist Research". Boston University. Archived from the original on December 14, 2023. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  30. ^ Damiano, Mike (November 7, 2023). "Metro | Internal Boston University audit finds no financial mismanagement at Ibram Kendi's antiracist center, BU says". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 24, 2023.
  31. ^ "Ibram X. Kendi". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  32. ^ Large, Jerry (December 5, 2016). "New history clarifies the workings of racism; author Ibram X. Kendi shares his thoughts". The Seattle Times.
  33. ^ a b Dwyer, Colin (October 6, 2016). "These Are The 2016 National Book Award Finalists". NPR. Archived from the original on December 11, 2023. Retrieved December 11, 2023.
  34. ^ Crucchiola, Jordan (November 16, 2016). "Here Are the 2016 National Book Award Winners". Vulture. Archived from the original on December 12, 2023. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  35. ^ a b c "Ibram X. Kendi Named to Time 100 List of Most Influential People". Boston University. September 24, 2020. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  36. ^ Kendi, Ibram X. (April 8, 2016). "An Intellectual History of a Book Title: Stamped from the Beginning". Black Perspectives. African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS).
  37. ^ Egan, Elisabeth (June 11, 2020). "These Authors Are Glad You're Buying Their Books. Now Do the Work". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  38. ^ Stewart, Jeffrey C. (August 20, 2019). "Fighting Racism Even, and Especially, Where We Don't Realize It Exists". The New York Times.
  39. ^ Hirsch, Afua (October 11, 2019). "How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi review – a brilliantly simple argument". The Guardian.
  40. ^ Sullivan, Andrew (November 15, 2019). "A glimpse at the intersectional left's political endgame". New York.
  41. ^ McWhorter, John (August 3, 2020). "The Better of the Two Big Antiracism Bestsellers". Education Next. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  42. ^ "Fellow: Ibram X. Kendi". John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. 2019.
  43. ^ Stevens, Matt; Schuessler, Jennifer (September 28, 2021). "MacArthur Foundation Announces 2021 'Genius' Grant Winners". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  44. ^ Massachusetts Museum of African American History's 2021 Living Legends Gala Archived May 18, 2022, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  45. ^ a b "Ibram Kendi Tells Early Childhood Advocates It's All About Outcomes". Alliance for Early Success. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  46. ^ "The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color". Ways and Means Committee - Democrats. United States House Committee on Ways and Means. May 27, 2020. Archived from the original on June 29, 2022. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  47. ^ Kendi, Ibram X. (May 27, 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 24, 2022. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  48. ^ Egan, Elisabeth (June 11, 2020). "These Authors Are Glad You're Buying Their Books. Now Do the Work". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  49. ^ Kendi, Ibram X. (2019). "Pass an Anti-Racist Constitutional Amendment". Politico. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  50. ^ 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.
  51. ^ Massie, Graeme (September 28, 2020). "Professor ripped for implying Amy Coney Barrett is a 'White coloniser' who uses two Black children as 'props'". The Independent. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  52. ^ Porterfield, Carlie (March 16, 2021). "How 'The Emancipator,' The First Antislavery Newspaper, Is Being Revived For The 21st Century". Forbes. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  53. ^ DeSanctis, Alexandra (October 16, 2020). "Amy Coney Barrett said nice things about her kids. Liberals heard racism". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  54. ^ The Editorial Board (October 15, 2020). "How not to think". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  55. ^ a b Penn, Charli (October 30, 2013). ""Bridal Bliss: Sadiqa and Ibram"". Essence.
  56. ^ Rimer, Sara (November 19, 2020). "This is the Calling of My Life". Boston University. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  57. ^ Goodman, Amy; Kendi, Ibram X. (February 15, 2019). "Ibram X. Kendi on surviving cancer and his anti-racist reading list for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam". Democracy Now.
  58. ^ 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]