The online retailer Amazon paid for copies of an Ibram Kendi book, which has been described as a "captivating introductory text into the larger genre of critical race theory," for students at a a Virginia high school.
Arlington Public Schools (APS) previously announced the partnership in February, noting that Amazon was giving $15,000 to Wakefield High School for books and speaking fees related to "anti-racism, cultural awareness and proficiency."
Documents released Monday have shed additional light on negotiations between Amazon and the school district. Activist group Parents Defending Education (PDE) obtained emails in which APS and Amazon discussed the retailer paying for hundreds of copies of "Stamped," by Kendi and co-author Jason Reynolds.
It also shows the district requesting $10,000 for a speaking engagement with Reynolds.
In a March 8 email to Amazon, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer Arron Gregory noted the cost and said: "Guess he is a hot commodity!"
Amazon public relations manager Justin Grayson responded: "[Y]es, I can imagine that in this time, he’d be hard to come by. I’m glad we could support!"
It's unclear exactly how many books Amazon bought, but an April 16 email shows Gregory discussing the virtual tour and noting 600 books donated from the online retailing giant.
"This is for HIGH SCHOOLS ONLY and was sponsored by a gift from Amazon along with 600 copies of the book Stamped," he said. "Due to an overwhelming response, Library Services has also bought over 700+ copies of the book to ensure every high school student that wants a copy may have one to keep."
PDE published purchase orders showing the district spending $8,000 on a speech from Reynolds, $5,516.16 for 507 copies of "Stamped," and another with $3,264 for 300 copies.
APS director of communications Frank Bellavia told Fox News on Wednesday: "Amazon is a a welcome member of our business community and has worked closely with Arlington Public Schools (APS) in finding ways to support our students and families."
Bellavia added: "This project was just one example of their generosity and support to APS. Amazon has also provided mobile hotspots so that our students who needed internet access could connect during the pandemic. Amazon has also provided robotics grants to schools in addition other grants and scholarships."
In an email to Fox News, Amazon said: "Amazon is proud of the programs we’ve implemented to support Black communities and create education opportunities around diversity, equity, and inclusion."
The incident came amid a national uproar over racial content in schools – much of which has been investigated by PDE.
Besides administrators, Kendi has received a substantial portion of the backlash as he's often identified as a thought leader on so-called "anti-racism," a controversial concept that many describe as actual racism.
In his book "How to Be an Anti-Racist," Kendi explicitly calls for reverse discrimination.
"The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity," he writes. "If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. ... The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination."
His book "Stamped" has also raised questions about the extent to which critical race theory (CRT) is influencing schools. A description by Hatchette Book Group said of "Stamped" that adults "might enjoy this book as a captivating introductory text into the larger genre of critical race theory."