UVA paid critical race theorist and author of How to Be an Antiracist Ibram X. Kendi $32,500 to host an hour-long virtual discussion last April as part of its Racial Equity Speaker Series. According to records obtained by the Daily Wire, the University made a mutual agreement with Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau to secure Kendi’s attendance.
The event, which took place on April 21, 2021 over Zoom, was open to the public and 876 people attended. It was hosted by the Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which works to “address racism and other forms of social injustice, both internally and externally, creating and sustaining an inclusive and equitable environment, and enhancing school-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion accountability.” Other speakers in the annual spring series included Laura Morgan Roberts, Professor of Practice at UVA Darden School of Business, and Ijeoma Oluo, Seattle-based author of the New York Times #1 bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, a non-fiction book which argues that the United States is a systematically and institutionally racist country.
The exclusive investigation comes as UVA has taken significant steps to expand its diversity initiatives. In 2020, the school appointed a Racial Equity Task Force to “commit seriously to racial equity and to implement a dozen concrete initiatives.” Some of those initiatives included “making an immediate, significant financial down payment towards systemic change,” increased funding of the Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, “doubling the amount of underrepresented minority faculty by 2030,” and implementing an “anti-racist education to develop… a culture of belonging.” The plans were endorsed by the Board of Visitors and coincide with expanded initiatives proposed in the University’s 2030 Strategic “Great and Good” Plan.
When reached for comment by the Daily Wire, UVA spokesperson Brian Coy answered, “Offering our community access to a diverse set of speakers and points of view is an important part of our academic mission.” Kendi’s media representatives did not respond for comment.
The full report can be found here.
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