Prominent critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi was paid nearly $45,000 by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to promote several of his books and train faculty and students, while ensuring the university deleted his lecture from a private server, according to public records obtained by The Federalist.
The event, titled “An Evening with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi,” took place on Sept. 21 at the state-run university. Kendi raked in $40,000 gross, plus an additional $3,500 stipend for travel, flights, and meals — or about $207 per minute. The agreement was with Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau, a subsidiary of the publisher behind several of Kendi’s critical race theory (CRT) manifestos.
“Join us for an evening with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of ‘How to Be an Antiracist, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America’ and other books,” read a UWM press release for the event. “Professor Kendi is one of America’s foremost historians and antiracist scholars. . . At UWM, Professor Kendi will participate in a conversation on antiracism with UWM’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion [DEI] Officer, Dr. Chia Youyee Vang.”
Wisconsin Sen. Julian Bradley — the first black Republican to win election in the state — told The Federalist, “Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a nation where we are judged by our character, not the color of our skin, is under attack by grifters,” referring to Kendi.
Kendi’s $207 Per Minute Evening
There were an estimated 500 attendees, according to the agreement. However, UWM printed about 630 tickets. Close to 400 free tickets were reserved for students, while 90 were printed for the general public at an admission rate of $12 each. The other tickets were for the “campus community” and Vang’s VIP cohort, for a cost of $10 each.
UWM’s Kendi event was sponsored by the university’s board of regents, division of student affairs, student involvement center, division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the group Leaders Igniting Transformation. It lasted for three-and-a-half hours, according to the agenda.
The agenda included a “professional development series with UWM faculty and staff” for an hour, a 45-minute meeting with a maximum of 25 student leaders, 30 minutes of book signings in a private room, and the one-hour talk with Vang. The complete fee breakdown for Kendi’s event included the following:
- $30,000 for 60-minute event conversation
- $5,000 for 45-minute meet and greet with UWM student leaders
- $5,000 60-minute professional development session on anti-racism with a group of UWM faculty and staff
- $3,500 for airfare and meals for two people
Evidently, Kendi made the majority of his money through the one-hour-long event conversation with the school’s DEI chief. Vang was appointed to her new position this month, and her 2021 salary was slated at about $170,000, according to public records.
Michelle Johnson, a spokeswoman for the university, told The Federalist the evening was funded with what are known as “segregated student fees” (seg fees) and auxiliary university income, not taxpayer dollars. Neither are comprised of general revenue funds.
“His appearance, plus a meeting with students and travel, was funded with student seg fees as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series,” said Johnson. “Students determine who will be invited to speak in that series. Mr. Kendi also did a professional development session for staff that was being paid for with miscellaneous/auxiliary income, which comes from such things as beverage concessions.”
Why Did Kendi Have UWM Remove His Remarks?
It is unclear what Kendi precisely discussed besides the overarching topics of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” and “anti-racism,” which is reflected in his books “How To Be An Antiracist,” “Stamped From The Beginning,” “Stamped,” “400 Souls,” and “Antiracist Baby.” Anti-racism teaches one can only oppose racism by affirming white privilege and implicit bias, which both claim white people are innately racist.
Kendi was able to conceal his appearance because of an “audiovisual recording addendum” clause Penguin had UWM sign. The addendum can be viewed here. Per the contract, the university “remove[d] the recording on Oct. 5, 2021” from its “internal” database and forwarded footage of Kendi’s lecture to the speakers bureau within 30 days. Kendi maintains the copyright to event recordings, as public records custodian Colleen Ference-Burke outlined in a letter.
“As noted in the Audiovisual Recording Addendum, Ibram X. Kendi holds the copyright to the recording of the event,” said Ference-Burke. “Under the Addendum, UWM was obligated to remove the recording on October 5, 2021 and deliver the recording to Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau within 30 days of the lecture.”
The recording addendum agreed upon by UWM states: “Sponsor [UWM] has permission to record the session and post it to an internal, password-protected website. . . for 14 days after the event date. The recording must be removed by 10/05/2021.”
Kendi’s policy that conceals what he said in a taxpayer-funded public venue is common for CRT activists. As The Federalist reported in September, University of Washington professor Robin DiAngelo, author of the 2018 book “White Fragility,” [did] not consent to having her presentation filmed or recorded, whether for archival purposes or later broadcast,” in a $12,000 zoom talk at Ohio State University last year. Dena Simmons, another CRT activist, employed a similar tactic when lecturing at an Illinois public school district.
Aidan Shank, president of the conservative group Turning Point USA at UWM, spoke to The Federalist about Kendi’s addendum policy. He questioned why the professor works to conceal his work from the public. The junior showed up to the evening and unsuccessfully tried to buy tickets at the door to hear the lecture at his own publicly funded university.
“What is there to hide?” Shank said. “If Ibram X. Kendi stands by what he believes, then he should want to get his message out to as many people as possible. So the fact that he is contradicting what probably should be his mission should raise an eyebrow in itself.”
‘The Left Lining Pockets Of Left-Wing Buddies’
Kendi has raised his speaking fees significantly since gaining notoriety in the diversity training world. A report from last year indicated The Boston University professor has made at least $300,000 in the past several years, much of it from public education institutions like UWM. He has been on a speaking tour, and a contract obtained by Campus Reform in October indicated he made $20,000 at The University of Michigan for a one-hour virtual event.
Wisconsin Republican U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, whose district represents a portion of Milwaukee County, expressed to The Federalist his discontent with public institutions funneling money to CRT activists. The congressman introduced a bill in June to ban CRT dogma from Washington D.C. public schools.
“This defines why Americans are so mad at universities and our education system,” said Grothman. “They are trying to tear people apart. They are trying to persuade young people that America is not a country worth preserving. That’s a problem we have with universities — where so many administrators or mid-level functionaries on the left are lining the pockets of their left-wing buddies.”
In an interview, UWM’s College Republicans club president Reid A. Pezewski condemned CRT. However, Pezewski said the club’s position is that Kendi should be permitted to speak on campus.
“I would say are definitely opposed to the ideas [of CRT],” the sophomore said. “I think that pretty much goes without question. However, I don’t believe that it is our place to say that this is not allowed on campus. I think that, overall, that hurts us more than anything because we’re seeing that conservative speakers are getting canceled all the time.”
Shank likewise affirmed a “marketplace of ideas” sentiment. “Whoever the school decides to bring, no matter how much the left-leaning speaker costs, they should bring a speaker who is more right-leaning as well — just to cater to the vast amount of students who have very diverse thoughts who go here,” he said, adding that “Turning Point USA strongly condemns critical race theory.”
UWM, which enrolls more than 20,000 undergraduates and has an endowment of around $262 million, did not respond to The Federalist’s follow-up requests for comment on the event. Kendi’s media team did not respond to an email asking how his notion of systemic racism in the United States fits with his ability to profit handsomely through the U.S. public education system.
Below is the contract between UWM and Penguin.
[scribd id=545631468 key=key-hTCtoMRbEivN7OEhybdB mode=scroll]