• Sara Rimer

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Sara Rimer

    Sara Rimer A journalist for more than three decades, Sara Rimer worked at the Miami Herald, Washington Post and, for 26 years, the New York Times, where she was the New England bureau chief, and a national reporter covering education, aging, immigration, and other social justice issues. Her stories on the death penalty’s inequities were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Her journalism honors include Columbia University’s Meyer Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting. She holds a BA degree in American Studies from the University of Michigan. Profile

    She can be reached at srimer@bu.edu.

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There are 8 comments on Ibram Kendi Recruited 90 Writers to Tell a 400-year History of Black America, and now “Four Hundred Souls” is a Bestseller

  1. Was Dr. Thomas Sowell invited to participate? We would love to see someone as accomplished, credible and respected as him to be heard. He is a true genius and a model for us all and our times.

    1. Since this anthology starts out with the prominent and well-known writer Nikole Hannah-Jones’ essay and uses the controversial 1619 date as a starting point of the history it covers I think it would be relevant and appropriate to ask Ibram X. Kendi to address the controversies and non-minor historical inaccuracies in Jones’ Pulitzer-Prize winning work, “1619 Project”.

      I mean this is a university setting and Prof. Kendi is a scholar at a university. All involved, including the interviewer Sara Rimer should be interesting in free inquiry and the search for truth, the lifeblood of any university AND journalism.

      It would seem important to know as a scholar of the African American experience what Prof Kendi’s take on the factual errors in the work of the most well-known contributor to the anthology.

      Also Konrad above makes a great point: It would add intellectual integrity and depth to any anthology to include well respected scholars with diverse takes on the subject matter , who hold points of view which might not neatly align with the prevailing orthodoxy.

  2. It’s amusing to see how right wing trolls react within milliseconds to anything Dr. Kendi says or does regarding antiracism initiatives. “Konrad” immediately plugs Sowell, someone whose pronouncements over the years landed himself a spot at the Hoover Institution. As someone who generally channels conservative, white narratives as to why African Americans find themselves in the position they currently occupy, he’s rewarded accordingly. (The archetypal example of this phenomenon is Judge Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, who, if he were white, would be accused of racism because of his voting pattern.) “Sam”, in turn, engages in the typical pseudo-scholarly nitpicking that is carried out to discredit any writing that challenges the white supremacist paradigm. Needless to say, the “Sams” of the world don’t advocate for “absolute accuracy” when it comes to writing that bolsters that paradigm.

    As a BU faculty member, I congratulate Dr. Kendi for coordinating the efforts that has brought us this book, which I look forward to reading in the near future.

    1. Right wing trolls? Is this stalinist Soviet Union? I am always cautious when self-appointed PC “leaders” with Mao/Stalinist zeal try to silence and discredit any alternative views and opinions and thus stifle academic freedom.

      Let’s have a constructive exchange without resorting to labeling others.

    2. Wow! “pseudo-scholarly nitpicking”? “white supremacist paradigm”? really? What exactly in my or any comments here deserves such an uncivil response. Did I say something untrue? Maybe. If so not intentionally. I’m open minded. Let’s talk about it James. What specifically do you disagree with? And let’s avoid the knee-jerk name calling.

      You say it’s “amusing how right wing trolls attack…” I don’t see troll behavior so far in the comments. No personal attacks (except for your references to white supremacy and trolls). What I see is some challenges to the pretty controversial narrative of the American experience held by Prof. Kendi and Nicole-Hannah Jones – the view that today in the 21st century, white supremacy and racism is responsible for pretty much ALL problems experienced by everyone who’s not white. After centuries of incredibly hard work by courageous people of all colors to do away with the evils of racism, slavery and Jim Crow we are now in a cultural moment again that seeks to bring back race as THE central defining characteristic of everyone and everything.

      The idea of an all-pervasive systemic white supremacy and racism is so generic and abstract that it is almost guaranteed to be wrong about some important things. It also vilifies and degrades a huge portion of the American population merely by skin color association. To me it would seems understandable that some people might disagree.

      These views need to be shined a light on in a civil and constructive way. They need to be pushed back on and challenged in the public arena of civil debate. And no one including Prof Kendi and Nicole Hannah Jones are above criticism.

      Speaking only for myself, rather than being right wing conservative or right wing troll or a white supremacist asm implied by James, I lean pretty liberal on most political issues. There are a lot of liberals like me who do not accept Prof Kendi’s view of America and it’s history. One does not have to be a conservative to be troubled by these views.

      What troubles me is the all-too-common reaction like the one above to legitimate disagreement. I emigrated from a country which still is and always has been a nasty dictatorship, which silences viewpoints opposed to the government’s official narrative, where to this day, human rights are truly NOT respected and human beings are routinely and systemically abused in vicious, lawless ways!

      I hope Americans can learn to view the history of their country in the context of world history and see that history in all it’s complexity, the bad AND the good, rather than reducing it to a race narrative: white man => bad person, oppressor, everyone else => good person. Some might find my caricature of these views amusing but I don’t think I oversimplified by much.

    3. Wow, Professor Iffland, I hope you don’t take a tone like this in the classroom. Not exactly the best way to engage in discussion with those who may view the world differently than you do. Do you have a similar take on the success of Shelby Steele? Tim Scott? That’s rather racist if you do.

      More broadly, I know we’re talking about an academic environment and this stuff is par for the course in universities today, but can we please tone down the leftist/woke stuff at BU? Every Bostonia I get nowadays seems to have a combination of Kendi and/or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez either on the cover or part of a feature. I hope that’s not all BU has to highlight these days but it certainly is starting to seem that is the case.

    4. As a BU Alumni, someone of color and someone who interacts with the 99% of the world which exists OUTSIDE of academia, would you please act like your station of “Professor”?

      Clearly, people are annoyed with Ibram and his whining, so let them state as much, without resorting to the use of “trolls”.

      However, I forgive you for your post.

      I understand why you’re so enamored by Ibram’s preachings; they have underpinnings of an epic tale: an overbearing force of evil and an underdog, struggling to break free.

      As a teacher of Romance Studies, this is what you live for, and you can’t resist believing in it. Because if you believe in it, if you hop on board with Ibram, then for a moment you can feel like you’re part of the adventure.
      You become the Sancho Panda, to his Don Quixote, and you find it intoxicating.

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