Boston University's Antiracist Research Center, under the leadership of Critical Race Theory activist Ibram X. Kendi, has recently come under scrutiny for firing 15 to 20 staff members from a team of 45. Former staffers describe the organization as “exploitative” and accused Kendi of poor management.
Rachel Lapal Cavallario, the Vice President of Boston University, confirmed these changes, telling Fox News, "The Center is evolving to a fellowship model. Dr. Kendi remains the Director. We can confirm that there were layoffs at the Center."
However, some former employees have painted a contrasting image of the center's internal dynamics. Allegations suggest that Kendi wielded significant power, leading to mismanagement.
One former leader, Spencer Piston, shared concerns about the university's decision to funnel considerable resources and authority to one individual. Further criticisms, including claims of exploitative practices, came from former assistant director Saida Grundy, who mentioned being asked to work beyond reasonable hours.
“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 said.
The center was established during the tumultuous summer of 2020 amidst the nation's soul-searching following George Floyd's death. Kendi, known for his 2019 book "How To Be An Antiracist," was perceived as a beacon to lead the charge against racial inequalities. With Kendi's appointment, BU witnessed an influx of financial support, including significant contributions from Vertex, Twitter's Jack Dorsey, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
However, not all reactions to Kendi's work have been positive. His children's publication, "Antiracist Baby," has been critiqued for introducing the contentious concepts of critical race theory to young readers. Kendi, in defense of his work, emphasized the importance of educating individuals, especially children, on identifying racism.
In a recent appearance on CBS Mornings, Kendi articulated how he teaches people to see racism, stating, "There's a difference. Race is a mirage. Racism is real. And it's – you know who's the most likely to be harmed by racism? Our children. You know who are least likely to engage about it? Our children. That's what's really prevailing me to do this work."