The Emancipator, a digital nonprofit publication devoted to reframing the conversation around racial equity, is launching a new website and hiring a new editor, according to Ibram X. Kendi, the co-founder of the publication and the head of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.
At a symposium celebrating Roxbury Community College’s 50th anniversary, Kendi said the publication is going through a relaunch after its partnership with the Boston Globe ended for undisclosed reasons. The Globe continues to host The Emancipator’s website, but that will end soon.
“We’re in the process of creating our own website,” said Kendi in an interview after a panel discussion. “It’s created a situation in which we have to divert time, attention, and resources. At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to relaunch The Emancipator with a new look and new experience so we’re really trying to take advantage of that.”
Content on the current website has tapered to a slow trickle. The last newsletter went out nearly a year ago and new content appears sporadically. Problems at The Emancipator figured in broader criticism directed at Kendi for alleged mismanagement of the Center for Antiracist Research, which went from being flush with cash to having to layoff many of its employees.
Makeeba McCreary, the president of a philanthropic fund for racial justice who also participated in RCC’s symposium, said The Emancipator’s affiliation with the Globe actually posed some difficulties. “It’s really hard to have a big brand like the Boston Globe be your home and yet it’s not actually providing the economic resources to get the work done so you’re fundraising but everybody’s looking at you saying ‘why are you fundraising, you’ve got the Boston Globe.’ In some ways, I think that the transition might be easier,” she said.
Kendi agreed. “Structurally, within the Globe site there wasn’t as much freedom as we’re going to have in our new site,” he said.
“The Emancipator, over the last three years, there’s been a decline in resources for racial justice works and nonprofit newsrooms,” said Kendi. “So imagine a non-profit newsroom focused on racial justice. It’s been even more difficult for The Emancipator.”
Kendi says his team is working on using the resources they have to reshape the publication and build an audience using video essay content. “One of the most interesting aspects of the projects we are engaged in is that we’ve encouraged experts and everyday people to contribute video essays, which have been really engaging,” said Kendi.
The Emancipator will accept content from contributors around the country. Kendi compares his proposed video-oriented publication to anti-slavery newspapers that would have contributors all over the country sending in dispatches.
Kendi’s vision for the publication is to highlight not only the problems when it comes to social inequity but also solutions.
“One audience that we’re really seeking to attract is people who recognize racism as a problem but may not recognize it in all of its specificity and may not necessarily know precisely how to go about changing it,” Kendi said. “So we’re really focused on solutions to racial inequality. There are some publications reporting on the problem. We really want to report on the solution.”