Boston University Director of Antiracist Research Ibram X. Kendi today announced the launch of a new “antiracist newsroom” to “reframe the national conversation on race.”
The Emancipator, Kendi’s new website, was announced in April 2021, but is only now going live. It is a joint project between Kendi and The Boston Globe. It is part of the Globe’s opinion section.
“Building on the tradition and impact of 19th-century antislavery newspapers that hastened abolition, The Emancipator is reimagined for a 21st-century audience to amplify critical voices, ideas, debates, and evidence-based commentary to hasten racial justice,” the statement announcing the new website reads.
The website will be led by Deborah Douglas and Amber Payne, two veteran journalists.
“At The Emancipator, we believe an antiracist future is possible,” said Douglas and Payne in a joint statement. “However, that means every industry, including the news media, must step up to provide solutions. The Emancipator will highlight issues tied to systemic reasons for racial inequality and the solutions to achieve equal opportunity and outcomes.”
The Emancipator’s name is modeled after a 19th century anti-slavery publication founded in 1820 by abolitionist Elihu Embree. The site is free, unlike the remainder of The Boston Globe, which is behind a paywall.
When the project was announced, the expected launch date for the website was summer of 2021.
Kendi has a track record of promising, but under-delivering. In 2020, the Washington Free Beacon found Kendi’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, yet produced almost no academic research.
The Beacon cited a $50,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to develop a “racial reporting guidebook” that has yet to materialize. The center also touted a fall 2019 symposium on “racial reporting” that never took place. The article also flags a $200,000 Ford Foundation grant for a “National Antibigotry Project,” which only “exists entirely on paper.”
“Other projects Kendi promised—’policy teams,’ the ‘world’s largest’ library of data on racial inequality, and classes for American University students—did not come to fruition before his departure this summer for the new Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University,” the Beacon reported.
Nonetheless, Kendi accepted donations such as $250,000 from the Ford Foundation, $300,000 from the Marguerite Casey Foundation, $150,000 from George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, and $150,000 from the Gates Foundation.
Further, after his move to Boston University, Kendi accepted a $10 million “no strings attached” contribution from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
The Emancipator’s advisory board includes a number of high-profile media personalities, including Joy Reid, Eddie Glaude, Sewell Chan, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Emily Ramshaw, S. Mitra Kalita, and Jelani Cobb.
According to Douglas and Payne, the new website “will elevate the voices and leadership of people who have been systematically excluded from narratives, provide accurate and authentic framing, and tell stories in expansive, honest, challenging, and responsible ways that move society forward.”