Amazon donated hundreds of copies of a book by critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi to an Arlington, Virginia, high school, and paid the book’s co-author to address the students and teachers, according to recently uncovered emails between the company and school district officials.
The emails, obtained by watchdog group Parents Defending Education (PDE) via public records requests, show a public relations manager at Amazon Logistics in February reached out to Arlington Public Schools (APS), offering to make donations as part of the company’s “Black History Month” initiative aimed to promote products of black-owned businesses and works of black authors.
The Amazon official noted in his emails that the school could choose from Kindle tablets, laptops, school supplies, robotics equipment, and possibly wireless hot spots for remote learning. In response, an APS diversity official specifically asked for a “minimum” of 550 copies of Kendi’s 2020 book “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” as well as copies of a study guide to “really make this investment impactful.”
A professor at Boston University and vocal proponent of Critical Race Theory, Kendi is best known for advocating the concept of “antiracism.” The idea is that there is no such thing as being non-racist or race-neutral, and that one can only be “antiracist” by actively identifying and confronting perceived racism all the time, in everything, because in a critical race worldview, it’s impossible for racism to be absent from any situation.
“Stamped,” according to its description on the Amazon website, examines how “racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted” in American society. “Racist thought is not just alive and well in America,” it argues. “It is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever.”
In addition to the books, the APS asked Amazon to help secure a virtual talk by either Kendi or Jason Reynolds, the co-author of “Stamped,” to teachers and students of Wakefield High School, because it serves “around 500 out of 800 African American high school students district wide.”
Reynolds ended up addressing Wakefield students and faculty virtually for 30 minutes and took questions for 15 minutes and was paid $8,000, or $177 per minute, the PDE says.
“Instead of donating Kindles and hot spots to students in Arlington Public Schools, Amazon chose to spread the controversial ideology of Critical Race Theory,” PDE vice president Asra Nomani said in a statement. “The shortsighted decisions during a pandemic, with so many students vulnerable, reflect the national crisis of school districts circumventing parents to indoctrinate students—in this case, with the help of corporate America.”
Neither Amazon nor the APS has immediately responded to requests for comments on the matter.