How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi is collaborating with The Boston Globe's editorial team to create an "antiracist" news outlet.
Kendi, who founded the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University in June, and The Globe's new editorial page editor Bina Venkataraman met via email during last summer's racial protests. On Tuesday, the two announced plans to reimagine historic anti-slavery journals for the modern digital audience.
Inspired by pre-Civil War abolitionist newspapers, the duo is set to launch The Emancipator in the spirit of social reformer William Lloyd Garrison's legendary The Liberator. (Religious organization Liberty Counsel, best known for engaging in litigation related to Christian values, had trademarked "The Liberator" to title its newsletter.) Kendi and Venkataraman's The Emancipator is the resurrection of the American Anti-Slavery Society's leading newspaper that ran for 18 years, which historians believe was the country's first publication dedicated to abolition.
Expected to start this summer, The Emancipator will become an online platform and microsite of BostonGlobe.com, accessible for free—unlike the newspaper's main webpage, which requires paid subscription. Backed by both of the big Boston institutions and the pair's generous seven-figure budget, the joint venture is also seeking philanthropic funding from foundations and individuals.
The self-described mission is to "reframe today's national conversation on racial justice" through multimedia content from written and video op-eds to data visualizations to virtual conversations. Boston University students from the College of Communication will be able to contribute material alongside community voices. Invoking the past, The Emancipator will also feature abolition-era editorials, annotated by academics for relevance to contemporary public discourse.
As phrased by The New York Times, the initiative intends to revive the traditional generation of media that "predates the formal division of news and opinion in 20th-century American journalism," thus blending reportage with editorial.
Amid the national scramble for editorial hires, the project will employ of two editors-in-chief to lead the newsroom: one with more academic bent and one with more journalistic inclination. The position based at Boston University is listed at "Grade 52" salary, which sets the leadership role's maximum wage at $228,000, according to the university's Human Resources compensation policy.
For the visionary EICs, the founders said they've had preliminary conversations with CBS News correspondent Wesley Lowery and Errin Haines of nonprofit group The 19th, which serves as the model for The Emancipator.
The endeavor will be supported by an inaugural advisory board of prominent pundits, including the New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah-Jones who created the now-debunked revisionist 1619 Project.
In an interview with The New York Times conducted Thursday, the Boston University talking head said that journalists should be the ones tasked with redefining what "racism" means based on "evidence."
The New York Times questioned whether the word should be "reserved for Nazis and Klansmen," used with extreme caution given that the term carries such power, or applied to day-to-day "features of American justice."
"In our time, slavery has become racism," Venkataraman told BU Today, which is is published by the university's communications office. "Antiracist ideas, debates, commentary, and solutions are needed now as much as anti-slavery commentary and ideas were needed to help bring about the end of slavery in the United States."