MacArthur Foundation announces winners of 2021 'genius' grants. Here's the list.

·5 min read
Ibram X. Kendi is an American historian and writer.
Ibram X. Kendi is an American historian and writer.

CHICAGO — The MacArthur Foundation on Tuesday announced the 25 creative pioneers who have been named this year's "genius" fellows. The 2021 cohort includes civil rights activists, historians, scientists, artists and more.

American historian and writer Ibram X. Kendi, author of the 2019 best-selling book "How To Be An Antiracist," is among the group.

"As we emerge from the shadows of the past two years, this class of 25 Fellows helps us reimagine what’s possible, said Cecilia Conrad, managing director for the MacArthur Fellows, in a statement. "They demonstrate that creativity has no boundaries. It happens in all fields of endeavor, among the relatively young and more seasoned, in Iowa and Puerto Rico."

Each fellow will receive a "no strings attached" stipend of $625,000, paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years. The grant does not fund a specific project or institution. Instead, it aims to help grantees advance their work.

The grants are awarded based on three criteria: Exceptional creativity, a track record of significant accomplishments, and potential for future creative work. Names are pooled from anonymous nominations and reviewed by a committee.

About 20 to 30 fellows are selected each year. Since 1981, 1,061 people have been named MacArthur Fellows, according to the foundation.

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Here are the 2021 recipients of the MacArthur genius grants

Hanif Abdurraqib, 38, of Columbus, Ohio: Music critic, essayist, and poet forging a distinctive style of cultural and artistic criticism through the lens of popular music and autobiography.

Daniel Alarcón, 44, of New York: Writer and radio producer chronicling the social and cultural ties that connect Spanish-speaking communities across the Americas.

Marcella Alsan, 44, of Cambridge, Massachusetts: Physician-economist investigating the role that legacies of discrimination and resulting mistrust play in perpetuating racial disparities in health.

Trevor Bedford, 39, of Seattle: Computational virologist developing tools for real-time tracking of virus evolution and the spread of infectious diseases.

Reginald Dwayne Betts, 40, of New Haven, Connecticut: Poet and lawyer promoting the humanity and rights of individuals who are or have been incarcerated.

Jordan Casteel, 32, of New York: Painter capturing everyday encounters with people of color in portraits that invite reciprocal recognition of our shared humanity.

Don Mee Choi, 59, of Seattle: Poet and translator bearing witness to the effects of military violence and U.S. imperialism on the civilians of the Korean Peninsula.

Ibrahim Cissé, 38, of Pasadena, California: Cellular biophysicist developing microscopy tools to investigate the subcellular processes underlying genetic regulation and misfunction.

Nicole Fleetwood, 48, of New York: Art historian and curator elucidating the cultural and aesthetic significance of visual art created by incarcerated people.

Cristina Ibarra, 49, of Pasadena, California: Documentary filmmaker crafting nuanced narratives about borderland communities, often from the perspective of Chicana and Latina youth.

Ibram X. Kendi, 39, of Boston: American historian and cultural critic advancing conversations around anti-Black racism and possibilities for repair in a variety of initiatives and platforms.

Daniel Lind-Ramos, 68, of Loiza, Puerto Rico: Sculptor and painter transforming everyday objects into assemblages that speak to the global connections inherent in Afro-Caribbean and diaspora legacies.

Monica Muñoz Martinez, 37, of Austin, Texas: Public historian bringing to light long-obscured cases of racial violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and their reverberations in the present.

Desmond Meade, 54, of Orlando, Florida: Civil rights activist working to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated citizens and remove barriers to their full participation in civic life.

Joshua Miele, 52, of Berkeley, California: Adaptive technology designer developing devices to enable blind and visually impaired people to access everyday technologies and digital information.

Michelle Monje, 45, of Palo Alto, California: Neurologist and neuro-oncologist advancing understanding of pediatric brain cancers and the effects of cancer treatments with an eye toward improved therapies for patients.

Safiya Noble, 51, of Los Angeles: Digital media scholar highlighting the ways digital technologies and internet architectures magnify racism, sexism and harmful stereotypes.

J. Taylor Perron, 44, of Cambridge, Massachusetts: Geomorphologist deconstructing the physical processes that create landforms on Earth and other planetary bodies.

Alex Rivera, 48, of Pasadena, California: Filmmaker and media artist exploring issues around migration to the U.S. and exploitative labor practices with an activist orientation.

Lisa Schulte Moore, 50, of Ames, Iowa: Landscape ecologist implementing locally relevant approaches to improve soil and water quality and strengthen the resilience of row crop agriculture.

Jesse Shapiro, 41, of Providence, Rhode Island: Applied microeconomist devising new frameworks of analysis to advance understanding of media bias, ideological polarization, and the efficacy of public policy interventions.

Jacqueline Stewart, 51, of Los Angeles: Cinema studies scholar and curator at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures/University of Chicago ensuring that contributions of overlooked Black filmmakers and communities of spectators have a place in the public imagination.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, 49, of Princeton, New Jersey: Historian analyzing the political and economic forces underlying racial inequality and the role of social movements in transforming society.

Victor J. Torres, 44, of New York: Microbiologist investigating how bacterial pathogens overcome the immune system and identifying potential therapies.

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, 70, of Tallahassee, Florida: Choreographer and dance entrepreneur using the power of dance and artistic expression to elevate the voices of Black women and promote civic engagement.

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Who were the 2020 fellows? Meet the 21 creatives awarded 'genius grants' from the MacArthur Foundation

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MacArthur Fellowship genius grants awarded, includes Ibram X. Kendi

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