The University of Michigan, a taxpayer-funded institution with the third-largest public endowment in the United States, paid a critical race theory (CRT) activist close to $266 per minute—$20,000 in total—to lecture on systemic racism over Zoom, according to financial documents obtained by The Federalist pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.
Headlining this year’s “Nancy Cantor Lecture on Intellectual Diversity” at Michigan was Beverly Daniel Tatum. Tatum, a clinical psychologist and the author of several left-wing manifestos on race relations, raked in the same amount of money from Michigan taxpayers as CRT czar Ibram X. Kendi in November 2020.
The event was open to the public. It was not mandatory for people affiliated with the University of Michigan, confirmed university spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen. The lecture was paid for by the university’s general fund and a state grant, Broekhuizen said. The fund is comprised of tuition revenue, state funding, and indirect cost recovery on sponsored research. In other words, U of M is using tax dollars to peddle racism.
Tatum was introduced by Robert M. Sellers, Michigan’s vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. Sellers notably made waves when it was reported in 2019 that he rakes in more than $400,000 from taxpayers annually while overseeing only 12 employees.
It was a family affair as well. Tabbye Maria Chavous, Sellers’ wife, also participated in the lecture. She serves as the university’s director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity and associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the college of literature, science, and the arts.
Near the beginning of the lecture, Tatum commented on the phrase “critical race theory.” She lamented that some Americans are uncomfortable with its tenets, saying their disagreement with the idea is rooted in systemic racism and white privilege.
“When we even think about the pushback against critical race theory, it’s really a social ‘shh, don’t talk about it.’ Right? That there is [sic] so many cues in the environment to teach us at an early age [that] this is a toxic subject. People don’t want to hear about it,” said Tatum.
“Today you can read ‘How to Be an Antiracist’ by Ibram Kendi,” Tatum continued. “You know, we heard the term ‘antiracist’ a lot. And people are asking ‘what is that?’ ‘What does it mean to be antiracist?’ For me, that often comes back to many people not really understanding what racism is. Many people think of racism as individual acts of meanness. …We know as social scientists, that racism is more than just individual attitudes or behaviors. It is, in fact, a whole system of policies and practices that reinforce a system of advantage based on racial categories.”
Antiracism claims one can only oppose racism by acknowledging America is a white supremacist country teeming with implicit white bias. The notion is also especially heavily reliant on “equity,” which calls for redistribution of wealth based on what people look like. Kendi writes in his book, “Capitalism is essentially racist” and “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination.”
While discussing instances of racism and discrimination in the lecture, Tatum also claimed that the first step to becoming an “antiracist” is recognizing there is systemic racism in the United States.
We must start “addressing the elephant in the room, which is systemic racism,” Tatum said. ” …If we can’t talk about that elephant, there’s a big stinky elephant in the room. If we can’t talk about it, we are going to find ourselves smelling to high heaven. But with an elephant that continues to take up too much space in our collective imagination.”
“So, I think you’re coming back to where we started about the fear of discussing race, but also the lack of connection to the history that shapes the way that we approach race,” responded Chavous shortly after. “It’s a cycle.”
The ideas in Tatum’s lecture are heavily mirrored and elaborated on in her writings. The former president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, wrote an international bestseller in 1997 titled “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race” that was re-released in 2017. In that book, Tatum argues “unconscious bias,” which is based on the Marxist idea of “false consciousness,” contributes to white people’s alleged systematic social advantages.
Similarly, in a section titled “Defining Racism: ‘Can We Talk,’” she argues America’s “system clearly operates to the advantage of Whites and to the disadvantage of people of color,” evidently neglecting her abillity to profit immensely from CRT workshops.
This glimpse into how Michigan’s flagship university is embracing racially divisive instruction comes as the state’s legislature is evaluating CRT. This week, the Republican-led House in Michigan passed a bill that would ban “implicit race or gender stereotyping” in all classrooms. It passed 55 to 0.
The University of Michigan is far from the only public institution embracing the CRT dogma. Administrators at a school in Grand Ledge were exposed recently for hiring a Michigan State University “diversity” consultant for $200 an hour. “Dorinda Carter Andrews is the chairperson for the Department of Teacher Education at MSU and a professor of race, culture, and equity,” noted Michigan Capitol Confidential. The professor has also claimed “[s]chools are manifestations of the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchal educational enterprise.”
“We are living at a time where I think this is really important,” Tatum said in her lecture, alluding to antiracism. “Right in this moment in 2021, there are people holding on to an old vision. That is not going to serve them well. There is a new vision emerging.”
When asked whether Tatum believes being paid $266 per minute equals oppression and is indicative of systemic racism, a spokeswoman for the activist dodged the question.
“Thank you for your inquiry. Your questions suggest a lack of information about the typical range of speaking fees for best-selling authors as well as a lack of information about Dr. Tatum and how she describes herself. For more information about speaking fees, you might find this article helpful,” the staffer wrote in an email, linking to a Harvard Business Review article on speaking fees.
The University of Michigan did not respond to a request for comment as to if it stands by its controversial usage of taxpayer dollars.