Celebrating Genius: Imani Perry and the Power of Shaping Ethics through History

An in-depth look at Imani Perry, one of the MacArthur Foundation’s 2023 “genius grant” fellows, and her groundbreaking work in studying the history and cultural expressions of Black Americans.

When the MacArthur Foundation announced its class of 2023 “genius grant” fellows, the world eagerly awaited the unveiling of the exceptional individuals who would join the ranks of this prestigious group. Among this year’s recipients is Imani Perry, an interdisciplinary scholar and writer whose work focuses on illuminating the overlooked narratives of Black Americans throughout history. In this installment of Under the Radar’s series, “The Genius Next Door,” we delve into Perry’s remarkable journey and the profound impact she is making in shaping our ethics for the present and future.

Haunting the Past: Unearthing Forgotten Stories

Imani Perry’s work can be best described as “haunting the past.” With a keen focus on those who have been disregarded and marginalized throughout history, Perry endeavors to shed light on their experiences and contributions. By doing so, she aims to shape our ethical understanding of the present and future. Through her interdisciplinary approach, Perry examines the history and cultural expressions of Black Americans, unearthing stories that have long been buried or ignored.

A Gaze into Freedom: Examining Dreams Across Generations

Perry’s work is not solely focused on the past; it extends into the realm of dreams and aspirations. By training her gaze on the dreams that have persisted across generations, she aims to understand their significance and the impact they have on shaping our collective consciousness. Through her research and writing, Perry seeks to bring these dreams to the forefront, ensuring they are acknowledged and celebrated for their enduring power.

Boston University and Beyond: A Scholar and Educator

As a professor at Boston University, Imani Perry not only conducts groundbreaking research but also imparts her knowledge and insights to the next generation of scholars and thinkers. Her presence in the Boston area, alongside three other MacArthur fellows, further solidifies the city’s reputation as a hub of intellectual excellence. Perry’s interdisciplinary approach to teaching and mentoring inspires her students to explore new avenues of thought and challenge conventional wisdom.

The MacArthur Fellowship: A Recognition of Exceptional Talent

The MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as the “genius grant,” is a highly coveted recognition that celebrates individuals who have demonstrated outstanding talent and leadership in their respective fields. By honoring Imani Perry with this prestigious award, the MacArthur Foundation acknowledges the profound impact of her work and the importance of amplifying the voices and stories that have been historically overlooked.

Shaping Ethics for the Present and Future: The Power of Perry’s Work

Imani Perry’s work extends beyond academia; it has the power to shape our ethics and understanding of the world. By unearthing forgotten stories and examining dreams that transcend generations, Perry challenges us to confront the injustices of the past and present. Her research and writing serve as a reminder that history is not a static entity but a living, breathing force that continues to shape our lives. Through her scholarship, Perry invites us to engage with the complexities of the human experience and forge a more just and inclusive future.


Imani Perry’s recognition as one of the MacArthur Foundation’s 2023 “genius grant” fellows is a testament to her exceptional talent and the transformative power of her work. Through her interdisciplinary approach, Perry unearths forgotten stories, examines dreams that span generations, and shapes our ethical understanding of the world. As we celebrate her achievements, we are reminded of the importance of amplifying marginalized voices and embracing the power of history to shape a more inclusive and just future. Perry’s work serves as an inspiration, urging us to explore the depths of our collective past and pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *