Boston University launches inquiry into Ibram Kendi’s Center for Antiracism Research after complaints, layoffs

However, complaints from employees shed light on organizational dysfunction and mismanagement.

The anti-racist author announced layoffs for a third of his organization’s staff as the center allegedly shifts to a fellowship model.

Boston University recently launched an inquiry into Ibram Kendi’s Center for Antiracism Research after the organization laid off roughly a third of its employees. The inquiry will focus on the center’s work culture and financial management.

Complaints from the center’s employees revealed that the center “was just being mismanaged on a really fundamental level,” as one employee told the Boston Globe.

Specifically, employees complained about dysfunction that hindered decision making, such as difficulty scheduling meetings with Kendi, despite his being, as some described him, the primary decision maker.

Reports have circulated that, since the center’s founding in 2020, it hasn’t achieved much. It founded The Emancipator, a publication partnership with the Boston Globe to further racial justice. The Boston Globe reports among the center’s other accomplishments: funding research projects, collaborating with journalists at The Atlantic, tracking racial inequity during the pandemic as a part of the “Racial Data Lab,” and organizing two “policy convenings.”

For an organization focused on research, however, the Washington Free Beacon reports that the center has published only two research papers since its inauguration. In March 2021, the Racial Data Lab stopped gathering data altogether.

Some publications theorize that the center is experiencing tight finances as donors shy away from the mission’s waning popularity. The Free Beacon reported that “support for the Black Lives Matter movement fell 16 percentage points from June 2020 to April 2023.

The Washington Examiner reported that 15 to 20 employees will be laid off, despite the center receiving well over $10 million from various donors over the last 3 years. Allegedly, the center is shifting to a fellowship model.

Influence Watch’s profile included a summary of donors including Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, the Vertex Foundation, and the left-of-center Rockefeller Foundation.

Founding the center in response to the death of George Floyd, Kendi adopted a philosophy of “antiracism.” According to Kendi’s philosophy, there is no such thing as a neutral “non-racist.”

[RELATED: Ibram Kendi launches ANOTHER anti-racism center at BU]

“What choice will we make? What world will we create? What will we be?” Kendi writes on the center’s website. “There are only two choices: racist or antiracist.”

Influence Watch describes Kendi’s antiracism, “The theory supposes that one cannot be simply ‘non-racist,’ instead demanding that policies are either ‘racist’ or ‘antiracist’ and arguing that racism must be fought through left-of-center policies.”

Accordingly, the Center for Antiracism Research “foster[s] exhaustive racial research, research-based policy innovation, data-driven educational and advocacy campaigns, and narrative-change initiatives.”

Boston University welcomed the project when it hired Kendi in July 2020.

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