Ibram X. Kendi—The Most Awesome Luck Won’t Substitute For A Complete Lack Of Talent
06/08/2024
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The most enduring, most heated of our moral panics is the one about race—a phenomenon that of course does not exist, except as a figment of your imagination.

There’s gold in them thar hills, though. When a moral panic is at its loudest and most heated, those favored by luck or talent to take advantage of it for self-promotion can make a fortune.

So it was with Ibram X. Kendi. He was teaching history at a private college in Washington, D.C. in mid-2020 when the nationwide frenzy over the death of street hoodlum George Floyd erupted. A few months earlier Kendi’s book How to be an Antiracist had come out, received friendly reviews in progressive outlets, and sold decently well.

Kendi was in exactly the right place at the right time. As the George Floyd rapture took off, so did his book sales. He was famous, being interviewed all over.

Boston University gave him an endowed chair and the space and resources to open a Center for Antiracist Research that by mid-2023 boasted 45 employees. He was showered with money, most famously ten million dollars from Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter.

Last Sunday’s New York Times magazine reported at length that the Center for Antiracist Research has been an almighty flop, in spite of $55 million worth of funding across three and a half years.

Last September Kendi laid off ”more than half its staff.” When the Times reporter went there to interview Kendi in December, she found the place, quote, ”mostly empty” [Ibram X. Kendi Faces a Reckoning of His Own, by Rachel Poser, June 4, 2024].

There doesn’t seem to have been any financial hanky-panky; Boston U. did an audit; Kendi came out clean. It was just that managing a big academic enterprise like that, with dozens of employees, was beyond Kendi’s abilities. As our own Steve Sailer observed, with supporting data, Kendi just isn’t very intelligent.

I started out by saying that those favored by luck or talent to take advantage of a moral panic for self-promotion can make a fortune. I think my ”or” should have been an ”and.” You need luck and talent. Kendi had a major stroke of good luck, but… no talent.

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