Res Ipsa Loquitur: The 2021 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowships…[CORRECTED]

MacArthur grants

The MacArthur Foundation named the recipients of its 2021 “genius” grants. Above are the 15 honorees NPR chose to represent the group Each will receive $625,000, which they are free to spend however they see fit: Left to right, top row to bottom, are Hanif Abdurraqib, Daniel Alarcón, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Jordan Casteel, Don Mee Choi, Nicole Fleetwood, Cristina Ibarra, Ibram X. Kendi, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Monica Muñoz Martinez, Safiya Noble, Alex Rivera, Jacqueline Stewart, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

As you can see, all the Fellows shown are “of color.” Since I can’t count, this originally confused me into thinking these were all of the Fellows, but ten were missing. [Hence the correction.] I checked of the remaining ten, three are white, and the ethnicity of one is uncertain: I can’t find any reference to her parents. There is only one Asian-American in the 25, which is decidedly strange. So the final tally, counting the mystery woman as white, is four out of 25 “geniuses” among the individuals chosen, 16%. The 2020 Census found 61% of Americans were white.

Is it racially insensitive to mention this? The Foundation is confident that its obvious bias won’t be criticized—this kind of disproportionate demographic mix would be considered evidence of discrimination in most contexts—and NPR decided only to highlight the “of color” honorees. What happened to “inclusion and diversity”?

Meanwhile, I am officially humiliated by belonging to such an inferior race.


Pointer: Here’s Johnny, who alerted me to the fact that I miscounted.

18 thoughts on “Res Ipsa Loquitur: The 2021 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowships…[CORRECTED]

  1. Considering they’ve been giving grants to “artists” who just tried to be as disgusting as possible for 40 years or more, none of this should be a surprise.

  2. Meanwhile, I am officially humiliated by belonging to such an inferior race.

    Heh. Indeed. I wonder when this all ends, and where it will ultimately lead? frankly, I could really care less who gets tabbed as a “genius” by the MacArthur Foundation, but it seems they have adopted the idea that only white people can be racist. Thus, they have no fear of being so accused under the circumstances.

    And after all, Kendi’s admonition that the cure to racism is reverse racism seems to be the order of the day in this case. Probably forever, I guess.

  3. Joshua Miele, 52, adaptive technology designer
    Michelle Monje, 45, neurologist and neuro-oncologist
    J. Taylor Perron, 44, geomorphologist
    Jesse Shapiro, 41, applied microeconomist
    Lisa Schulte Moore, 50, landscape ecologist

    Those five people are recipients. Why weren’t they featured?


  4. The MacArthur Foundation chose 25 recipients for its genius awards this year and displayed pictures of all of them on its website along with their names and a brief statement of their work. I won’t even try to guess the ethnicity nor gender of these 25, but they sure appear to be a diverse group, including some who either are or easily could pass for being white. NPR chose to show pictures of just 15 of those selected, and we can only speculate as to why they left out the pictures of the other 10. Other media chose to display a few pictures, or, in the case of USA Today, just one, someone named Kendi, who was identified as an historian and writer, and who I only know as a writer of a poorly reasoned book.
    Meanwhile, nevertheless, I am proud to be a member of the human race which does produce genius, though we debate just what that entails.

    • Thanks—believe it or not, I assumed the 15 wee 25, because 1) I can’t count, and 2) it made (and makes) no sense that NPR would only picture 15, who happened to be “of color.” It was hard to check the other ten, but by my count, there were 4 of the 10 that are white. I might be wrong AGAIN, but it doesn’t change the over-all point. Obviously a bias is at work here, but it is presumed to be a “good” bias.

      I just gave you a pointer for flagging this.

      • The point you made is valid. NPR deserves more criticism than the MacArthur Foundation, but I cannot believe that all of these selections were purely merit based. Ironic that now we have token whites.

  5. Not surprised.

    In my professional organization, people are so anxious for diversity that any white man shouldn’t bother to run for a position. What this has meant is that gay men are being shoved out of any leadership position. It’s especially egregious when they don’t wear a rainbow pin, mention their sexuality in every conversation, etc.

  6. Reminds me of watching television commercials and wondering, “If people of color are ubiquitous and so obviously flourishing as consumers of all things desirable (and evidently inter-marrying and inter-breeding with — gasp — white people) why are reparations needed?”

  7. There’s other aspects of this that are annoying, in addition to NPR deliberately only publishing photos of the non-white recipients. If race and ethnicity were criteria for selection as they obviously were, why do the bios omit that apparently vital information? Who are they kidding?

  8. The few who engaged in hard science are to be congratulated. The rest produced nothing I would walk into a library or museum to pursue. The only time I tune into NPR is when they play classical music composed by those “dead old white men.”

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