Self-styled "antiracist" author Ibram X. Kendi's multi-million-dollar think tank at Boston University has been placed under investigation over complaints about alleged financial mismanagement and toxic work culture.
The Center for Antiracist Research (CAR), which raked in as much as $43 millions in grants and donations since its opening in 2020 amid widespread racial unrest following the death of George Floyd, has reportedly yielded little academic output, wasted its funding, and most recently laid off at least a third of its employees.
LayoffsThe inquiry announcement comes after Mr. Kendi's center confirmed last week that it let go between 15 and 20 employees via a series Zoom meetings, in what it called a transition from its current "research-based approach" to "a fellowship model." A snapshot of the center's "our teams" webpage suggested that there were 45 staffers at the end of July.
Meanwhile, some former employees have spoken out against Mr. Kendi's leadership, saying that the center is being mismanaged on a fundamental level.
Spencer Piston, a political science professor and faculty lead of CAR's policy office, told the Globe that internal problems "started very early on when the university decided to create a center that rested in the hands of one human being, an individual given millions of dollars and so much authority."
Saida Grundy, a sociology professor who worked at CAR until 2021, alleged that she was forced to work long hours. "It became very clear after I started that this was exploitative and other faculty experienced the same and worse," she said.
Another former CAR affiliate, social-work professor Phillipe Copeland, wrote on Facebook that he decided to quit because of "the mismanagement I witnessed." The professor said he was then told that he could no longer be part of the leadership of the "designing antiracism curriculum" fellowship he created, since he was no longer with the center.
"This excuse made no sense because there was already a faculty member serving on the leadership team with no affiliation with the center at all," argued Mr. Copeland, who is black. "Taking a program from the black faculty member that created it is apparently what BU considers 'antiracism' and 'diversity and inclusion.'"
In a statement posted Friday on X, Mr. Kendi called laying off CAR employees the “hardest decision” of his career, promising to try his best to support those affected and welcoming the university’s inquiry into the center’s operations.
With that said, Mr. Kendi also appeared to indicate that he is being unfairly treated because of his race.
Big Donations, Little OutputMr. Kendi, who rose to prominence among progressive activists as riots and anti-police protests raged across the nation, was hired in June 2020 by Boston University as a history professor, and soon founding director of the "antiracist" research center.
According to 2021 budget records obtained by The Daily Free Press, at least $43 million in grants and gifts had been poured in to CAR by that time.
Despite massive funding for his center, it appears that Mr. Kendi has not published a research paper in a peer-reviewed academic journal over the past four years.
CAR's research projects, namely the "Racial Data Lab" and the "Antiracist Tech Initiative," have hardly been doing any better.
In March 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Racial Data Lab worked with The Atlantic to create a "racial data tracker," reportedly relying on a team of volunteers on The Atlantic’s part to do all the data collection. The tracker, which stopped updating a year later in March 2021, remains the Lab’s sole project.
The Antiracist Tech Initiative, with stated goals to “co-create research agendas, conduct antiracist research and engage with communities,” has so far published little more than a dozen interviews and two blog posts.
Antiracism or Critical Race Theory?Mr. Kendi doesn't identify as a critical race theorist, although his "antiracist" ideology mirrors the Marxism-inspired critical race worldview that interprets society through a Marxist dichotomy between "oppressors" and "oppressed," but replacing the class categories with races.
According to Mr. Kendi, addressing this perceived inequity would require active discrimination against racial groups the ideology deems "oppressors." As explained in "How to Be an Antiracist," discrimination should be considered "antiracist" so long it is "creating equity."
The Epoch Times has reached out to the university for further comment.