$43 million dollars later and Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University appears to be suffering from “disorganization” and “mismanagement.” This comes after diversity expert Eboo Patel turned to the pages of The Chronicle of Higher Education to criticize the “antiracist” approach to diversity work. I am also reminded of Black socialist Adolph Reed’s comment about the “antiracist” movement: It’s a “career path.”
Here is Molly Farrar and Lydia Evans at the The Daily Free Press, an independent, student-run newspaper at Boston University with a 53-year history on campus:
Boston University hired Ibram X. Kendi to lead its new Center for Antiracist Research in 2020, a year marked by a global pandemic and nationwide racial tension.
Three years later, after at least $43 million in grants and gifts and what sources say has been an underwhelming output of research, the Center for Antiracist Research laid off almost all of its staff last week.
Multiple former staff members allege that a mismanagement of funds, high turnover rate and general disorganization have plagued the Center since its inception.
The $43 million, according to 2021 budget records obtained by The Daily Free Press, includes general support, such as the $10 million from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, as well as donations for specific projects.
The document, which is not an all-inclusive list of donors, also lists TJ Maxx’s foundation, Stop & Shop and Peloton as donating over a million dollars.
Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and a history professor at BU, founded the Center three years after he founded the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.
Kendi talked to BU Today when BU’s Center first launched in 2020.
“My hope is that it becomes a premier research center for researchers and for practitioners to really solve these intractable racial problems of our time,” Kendi said to BU Today. “Not only will the center seek to make that level of impact, but also work to transform how racial research is done.”
A week after the layoffs, BU announced Wednesday that they received complaints “focused on the center’s culture and its grant management practices.”
“We are expanding our inquiry to include the Center’s management culture and the faculty and staff’s experience with it,” BU spokesperson Colin Riley said. “Boston University and Dr. Kendi believe strongly in the Center’s mission, and … he takes strong exception to the allegations made in recent complaints and media reports.”
The Compliance Services Office received an anonymous complaint in 2021 about the Center from Saida Grundy, an associate professor of sociology at BU and former CAR employee.
The complaint detailed multiple high-level employees leaving suddenly and allegations of a workplace culture that included fear of retaliation and discrimination.
After submitting the complaint, Grundy then personally went to then-Provost Jean Morrison in 2021 to discuss the alleged toxic work culture and grant mismanagement, among other significant concerns. Grundy said she sent a follow-up email after the meeting, and Morrison did not reply.
As Provost, Morrison was instrumental in Kendi’s hiring, according to Grundy and BU Today.
“The pattern of amassing grants without any commitment to producing the research obligated to them continues to be standard operating procedure at CAR,” Grundy wrote to Morrison. “This is not a matter of slow launch. To the best of my knowledge, there is no good faith commitment to fulfilling funded research projects at CAR.”
Grundy said the Center ceased communication when her year-long contract came to an end in June 2021, which she said was retaliation for speaking up about the Center’s underwhelming work and impact on campus.
Read the rest here.
I’d like to hear more from Jemar Tisby on this story. He had a brief stint at this Center.
Conservatives are having a field day with this story. But so are some socialists. Here is Dissent magazine podcaster Matt Sitman: