Ibram X. Kendi Has a Cure for America’s ‘Metastatic Racism’Historians in the News
tags: racism, books, American History, Ibram Kendi
Three years ago, when Ibram X. Kendi was up for the National Book Award, he thought he had no chance.
He was a little-known assistant professor at the University of Florida. His book, “Stamped From the Beginning,” a sweeping history of nearly five centuries of racist thought in America, had received admiring but sparse reviews.
“Before we walked over to the dinner, my wife asked me if I had written a speech,” Dr. Kendi recalled in an interview last month. “I hadn’t, but I wrote out a few notes just in case. When they called my name, I was shocked.”
It was barely a week after the 2016 election, and Dr. Kendi — at 34, among the youngest ever to win the nonfiction award — made his way onstage to deliver an eloquent speech nodding at the man just elected president, and paying tribute to “the human beauty in the resistance to racism.”
Since then, he has given a lot more speeches — 46 so far this year alone. He has become one of the country’s most in-demand commentators on racism, and leads the new Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, which recruited him as a full professor after the award.
It’s been a wild and fast ride to the top of his profession, with one terrifying detour thrown in. Midway through writing his new book, “How to Be an Antiracist,” out on Aug. 13, Dr. Kendi received a diagnosis of Stage 4 colon cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of about 12 percent.
A recent scan, taken a year after he completed both chemotherapy and surgery, came back all clear. But Dr. Kendi — who turns 37 on publication day — isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I was pretty disciplined and determined before the diagnosis, but now I’ve taken it to a whole other level of seriousness,” he said. “Even though I’m young, I can’t imagine I have so much time. It forced me, compelled me, to take risks.”
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump administration says joint UNC, Duke Middle East Studies program portrays Islam too positively
- What White Kids Learn About Race in School
- Frederick Douglass photos smashed stereotypes. Could Elizabeth Warren selfies do the same?
- Chronicling New York’s Muslim History
- New Documents Illuminate The University of Texas’s Secret Strategy to Keep Out Black Students
- Women Scientists Were Written Out of History. It’s Margaret Rossiter’s Lifelong Mission to Fix That
- Allen C. Guelzo Reviews Sidney Blumenthal's Latest Installment of His Biography of Lincoln
- What Reconstruction-Era Laws Can Teach Our Democracy: The NY Times Reviews Eric Foner's Latest Book
- Should historians read their own book?
- Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75