Boston University announced last week that it would investigate Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research.
Boston University announced last week that it would investigate Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research after almost half of the well-funded institution’s staff were laid off and several former employees alleged mismanagement and wasteful spending practices.
- Kendi, the author of “How to Be an Antiracist” who shot into national prominence during the Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, laid off about 20 out of the center’s 45 staff last week.
- Several employees lodged complaints with Boston University about “the center’s culture and its grant management practices.”
- Student newspaper The Daily Free Press reported that $43 million in grants and gifts had been spent in 3 years with little academic output to show for it. Major contributions included $10 million from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and more than one million each from TJ Maxx’s foundation, Peloton and Stop & Shop.
- Former employees claimed the Center for Antiracist Research had become an environment with a “toxic work culture” that “included fear of retaliation and discrimination.” Former CAR employee Saida Grundy claimed, “The pattern of amassing grants without any commitment to producing the research obligated to them continues to be standard operating procedure at CAR.”
- The Center for Antiracist Research was created to “solve” racism. BU said the layoffs were “initiated” by Kendi and he now wants to ensure the center “evolves” into a nine-month fellowship.
- Indeed, one former scholar, Professor Phillipe Copeland, condemned Boston University and the Center for Antiracist Research for inflicting “employment violence and trauma.” Copeland called on BU to explain “how mass layoffs are ‘antiracist.’”
- Kendi defended the center in an interview with Axios. He said the layoffs from his Center for Antiracist Research “devastated” him and blasted the allegations of workplace mismanagement and mistreatment as “baseless.” Kendi said the layoffs “were done to ensure impact and sustainability, to ensure that the center of antiracist research will be around 50 years from now.”
- Phillipe Copeland wrote about what he saw while working at Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Resesarch for The Daily Beast. “I came to the Center for Antiracist Research with hope and passion. I left with nothing but grief and exhaustion,” Copeland wrote. “The center that so many believed in is now effectively dead. This tragedy offers a cautionary tale. High profile academics can grow so large they exert an irresistible gravity. They pull in resources, institutions, people, and attention. Celebrity is seductive. But celebrity should not be confused with leadership ability.”
- The New York Times emphasized that the core reason behind the center’s “struggles” were concerns about the management abilities of Kendi, who had never before “run an organization anywhere near its size.” Ex-employees described Kendi as having “an imperious leadership style.” Professor Saida U. Grundy, a BU scholar formerly affiliated with the program, said, “Commensurate to the amount of cash and donations taken in, the outputs were minuscule.”
- Peter Wood covered “the incredible meltdown of the Center for Antiracist Research” for The Spectator. After the BLM riots in 2020, “The stage was set for a grand-standing feminist provost at Boston University and a fainthearted university president to make the grand gesture of establishing Kendi as an all-expense-paid star of the faculty. What could go wrong?” Wood asked. “Sloganeering, absolutist declarations, story-telling, and mythologising will take you only so far. The Center for Antiracist Research had a self-contradictory word and a charismatic ideologue, and a great deal of money. After three years, it still has the first two, but no ‘research’ and apparently no money. Good show BU.”
- National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke asked a pressing question: “Is Ibram X. Kendi a racist?” Since Kendi was “taking millions of dollars designated for the fight against racism and doing nothing useful with it,” Cooke argues Kendi’s actions would be racist under his own definitions. Cooke concludes, “It sounds to me like the man has some self-reflecting to do.”
- “The 2020 Black Lives Matter riots and the racial obsession liberals fomented during them gave life to a new generation of race hustlers. Ibram Kendi was one of those race hustlers, but his racial grift has apparently fallen apart just a few short years later,” wrote Zachary Faria for the Washington Examiner. “The main point probably was never to fix racism or perform ‘antiracist’ research. The point was always to line grifters’ pockets off of the white guilt of liberals and the major corporations they run.”
© Dominic Moore, 2023