Ibram X. Kendi is one of 25 Americans to receive a $625,000 grant from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Known colloquially as “genius” grants, the fellowships are designed to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” The process of choosing each year’s fellows is highly secretive, with experts from a cross-section of professions asked to nominate colleagues who are doing cutting-edge work. Nominees are given no notice that they’re even being considered for an award until they’re congratulated.

Other writers to win include:
* Hanif Abdurraqib, 38, music critic, essayist and poet.

* Daniel Alarcón, 44, writer and radio producer.

* Reginald Dwayne Betts, 40, poet and lawyer.

* Don Mee Choi, 59, poet and translator.