Barrington, RI, Paid Ibram Kendi $15,000 for 1-Hour Zoom Talk ($250/minute)

Hear a non-racist approach to community education Sunday at 8 PM ET

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On Monday, April 26, the Town of Barrington, R.I., hosted a one-hour video call with critical race theory author Ibram Kendi, speaking to community members and local students about the advantages of eliminating merit-based admissions exams, promoting “equity” and “anti-racist” school curriculum and encouraging students to social justice activism.

The bill for the talk, headlined, “Exploring Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: A Conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi,” was $15,000 for the one-hour video call, or $250 per minute, according to a copy of the contract I obtained in response to a public records request. The fee is being revealed here for the first time. The topic on the contract was “How To Be an Anti-Racist,” the title of one of the author’s recent books. The bill was paid by a local nonprofit, the Rhode Island Foundation, according to a copy of the receipt also obtained.

Promotional material for the event on Eventbrite said the organizers were “giving away 100 Ibram X. Kendi books,” as well, at the Barrington Public Library.

Issues of virtue signaling — with talks like Kendi’s — are enflaming tensions in the community, with local veterans hosting a talk, “Unity Not Division: A Non-Racist Approach to Community & Education,” where I’ll be a speaker (at no fee) on Sunday evening, 8 p.m. EDT. Register at this link. Also speaking are leading opponents of critical race theory, including teacher Paul Rossi, who penned a letter, “I Refuse to Stand By While My Students Are Indoctrinated.” Also on the roster is Ian Rowe, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the panel will be moderated by William A. Jacobson, clinical law professor at Cornell Law School and president of Legal Insurrection Foundation.

Meanwhile, spreading the propaganda of his ideology, Kendi last year earned $20,000 in August for an hour he spent on a video call speaking with principals, teachers and staff in Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia When I got that contract through a public affairs request, I noticed that he required first-class air service for in-person appearances. He also earned at least $24,000 in book sales from the Fairfax County school system.

During the talk for the Rhode Island community, which I watched, Kendi repeated many of the talking points from his book, “How to be an Anti-racist.” In his book, Kendi wrote, “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

In the talk, Kendi attacked merit-based, race-blind tests in admissions to advanced academic schools, misrepresenting opposition from pro-merit people claiming they argue, “I don’t want to push back against the multimillion test prep industry that gives wealthier white families advantage over working class white families and even families, you know, of color.”

At about the 15-minute mark, he said that “they’re being racist.” 

Many pro-merit families are actually Asian American immigrant families, many of whom face socioeconomic challenges. Before families were notified about the admissions test in Boston, Kendi said that more “students of color” had gained admission into the schools there due to the elimination of merit-based tests (28:00).

Kendi’s contract through Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau stipulated that the town could not make a recording of the event public. The contract was signed by James Cunha, manager of Barrington Town Hall on March 17.

Like school districts around the country, Barrington Public Schools has been promoting the controversial ideology of critical race theory through its “diversity, equity and inclusion programs.” About half-way into the talk, Kendi addressed a question from a Barrington High School student about how to respond to people who say “All lives matter.” He responded that those people lack “empathy.”

In its list of priorities for its “Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Committee” during the 2020-2021 school year, Barrington Public Schools issued priorities that capture the language of Kendi’s “anti-racist” program.

They include:

  • “Increase professional development for staff on anti-racist and culturally relevant and responsive pedagogies, practices, and curricula.”

  • “Engage in community outreach and anti-racism training.”

  • “Support staff who embody anti-racist and inclusive pedagogies and practices.

Asra Q. Nomani is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and she can be reached at asra@asranomani.com.