Ibram X. Kendi, famous for his teachings on “antiracism,” is accused of perpetuating systemic injustices through “employment violence.”
Last week, the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University — an organization Kendi founded and directs — laid off between 20 to 30 employees, according to the Boston Globe, which is at least half of the center’s staff.
Now, former leaders who worked in the center are speaking out about its behind-the-scenes problems.
Boston University associate professor Dr. Phillipe Copeland, for example, questioned how the “mass layoffs” adhere to Kendi’s “antiracist” framework.
“This act of employment violence and trauma is not just about individual leaders. It’s about the cultures and systems that allow it to occur. And too often rewards it,” Copeland wrote on Facebook.
“Antiracism is not a branding exercise, PR campaign or path to self-promotion. It is a life and death matter,” he added. “Those of us who believe in real antiracism need to demand more from our colleges and universities. Institutions preaching ‘antiracism’ need to actually practice it.”
Boston University associate professor Dr. Spencer Piston, moreover, suggested in an interview with the Boston Globe that Kendi abused power that he had amassed.
“There are a number of ways it got to this point; it 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,” Piston told the newspaper.
That sentiment was echoed by Boston University associate professor Dr. Saida Grundy, who left the center after working there for less than a year. She described the center as “exploitative.”
“It became very clear after I started that this was exploitative and other faculty experienced the same and worse,” Grundy told the Boston Globe.
The Center for Antiracist Research was founded in 2020. Its mission is “to create novel and practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice.” The center has received tremendous (i.e., lucrative) donor support, including a $10 million donation from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
Kendi did not return a request for comment from the Globe.
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