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    by Jennie Taer

    The MacArthur Foundation has named Boston University professor and author of “How to Be an Antiracist” Ibram X. Kendi to its renowned fellowship.

    The Foundation’s website named Kendi and 24 others, many of them scientists, artists and academics, as 2021 fellows.

    “My first words were ‘Are you serious?’” Kendi said of receiving the honor, according to The New York Times.

    “It’s very meaningful — I think to anyone who studies a topic where there’s a lot of acrimony and a lot of pain — to be recognized and to get love mail sometimes,” he said. “And this is one of the greatest forms of that I have ever received.”

    As part of the program, fellows receive a “no-strings-attached award” of $625,000 paid over the course of five years. The award has been referred to by some as a “genius grant,” but the organization says it ‘avoids’ the label ‘genius … because it connotes a singular characteristic of intellectual prowess.”

    “The people we seek to support express many other important qualities: ability to transcend traditional boundaries, willingness to take risks, persistence in the face of personal and conceptual obstacles, capacity to synthesize disparate ideas and approaches,” the organization’s website states.

    Those who receive the award are recognized by the foundation for their “exceptional creativity” and their “promise for important future advances.” The fellowship is also meant to support recipients’ “subsequent creative work.”

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