Ibram X. Kendi, an anti-racist activist who founded the Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, debuted a new ESPN series, “Skin in the Game,” to dissect racism in sports as Disney boss Bob Iger vowed to “quiet the noise” in the culture wars.
The show, which premiered on ESPN+ late last month, “delves into and challenges racism in the sports world, and will reveal how pervasive racism is in sports, while challenging the thoughts and systems of various governing bodies.”
“I hope that people are able, through the series, to not just see their favorite athletes, but also see the lingering challenges of racism in sports and society,” Kendi told Axios in a recent interview.
“There are ways in which we all understand the ways in which we understand racism is operating, and there are ways in which we don’t.”
All five episodes dropped on Sept. 20, the same day Needham & Company analyst Laura Martin wrote in a report that Iger told investors the day before that his primary goal is to “quiet the noise,” because culture wars are bad for business.
That message was one of Needham’s key takeaways from Disney’s 120-person investor event at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where the company announced plans to nearly double its investments in amusement parks and cruises to $60 billion over the next decade.
Kendi has also been mired in controversy amid mass layoffs, toxic workplace allegations and claims of mismanaged funds at Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research. He called the allegations “baseless” in the Axios interview and elaborated about “challenging moments” in an interview with BU’s Daily Free Press.
Kendi also touched on “missteps” made and how he’s learned from them.
“The new structure resolves many of those missteps. We now have a long-term financial plan and a structure that does not require faculty to serve in an administrative capacity,” he said. “The new structure offers financial sustainability, along with the ability to support BU faculty fellows as they pursue their research agenda and BU student fellows as they pursue their career interests.
“BU student fellows will be paired up with, mentored by and provide research assistance to leading antiracist intellectuals and creators in their fields.”