Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, headed by critical race theory activist Ibram X. Kendi, revealed last week that it was laying off about 40% of its staff as part of organization restructuring. About 15 to 20 of its approximately 45 employees were let go. Testimonies from former employees have exposed alleged mismanagement of Kendi’s center, which in turn has exposed the fraudulence and fragility of the diversity, equity, and inclusion complex.
Disgruntled former employees have accused Kendi of mishandling grant funding, failing to complete major projects, and fostering an exploitative company culture in which he ruled with an iron fist yet was routinely missing in action. The center has raked in $43 million since its inception, according to 2021 budget records obtained by the Daily Free Press. It received corporate support from Peloton, Deloitte, Stop & Shop, TJX Companies, and Deckers Outdoor Corporation, according to a 2020–2021 donor report. Only six weeks after its launch, then-CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey gifted $10 million without conditions.
“Your $10M donation, with no strings attached, gives us the resources and flexibility to greatly expand our antiracist work,” Kendi posted at the time. “The endowment is vital, as we build our new Center.”
Despite the investments, the center did not deliver on some key priorities, such as the much-hyped Racial Data Tracker that would document racial inequities in all sectors of society to finally root out racism.
“I don’t know where the money is,” Saida Grundy, a BU professor who worked at the center from fall 2020 to spring 2021, told the Boston Globe after the staff cuts.
Multiple other BU professors served as faculty leads on various projects at the center. Professor Sanaz Mobasseri of BU’s business school led the Antiracist Tech Initiative, professor Kaylene Stevens of BU’s education school led the “Designing Antiracist Curricula” team, and political science professor Spencer Piston led the Policy Office, for example.
In December 2021, Grundy emailed BU provost Jean Morrison that the organization had been showing a “pattern of amassing grants without any commitment to producing the research obligated” by them.
Like its umbrella idea DEI, “antiracism” actually translates to, well, nothing of note. Serial academics such as Kendi have built careers around racial fearmongering, even inventing new disciplines to study racism and its early-stage minutiae “microaggressions” and “implicit bias.” Rather than confront actual crimes of racism, these courses seek to aggressively manufacture racist intent.
Despite all this bureaucracy, academic DEI projects have unclear aims and products. Kendi’s center published just two research papers since its founding, the Washington Free Beacon reported. A January paper, “Association of Neighborhood Racial and Ethnic Composition and Historical Redlining With Build Environment Indicators Derived From Street View Images,” found that predominantly black neighborhoods had more dilapidated buildings than white neighborhoods. The center released a report from its “Antibigotry Convening” from fall 2021 and winter 2022 that included many intersectionality themes such as “Ageism,” “Anti-fat Bigotry,” and “Transphobia,” further confusing its purpose.
Rachel Lapal Cavallario, spokeswoman for Kendi’s center, told the Boston Globe Wednesday that BU had “received some complaints from individuals questioning whether the center was following its funding guidelines. We are currently looking into those complaints.”
However, the center rejects the “characterization of it not having produced important work insofar as antiracism is concerned,” she said.
To raise Grundy’s question again, where did the money go? Echoing that sentiment, BU has launched an “inquiry” into the center amid the scandal, the Daily Free Press said.
The situation is reminiscent of the lawsuits against Black Lives Matter, another embattled racial justice organization. In 2023, Black Lives Matter reported a $9 million deficit for 2022 after raising $90 million in 2020. Only 33% of that massive sum went to charitable activism, federal filings showed, as a significant chunk was squandered on the leaders’ mansions, personal expenses, and favors for friends. Both Kendi’s center and BLM followed a similar model: drum up rumors of racism, prescribe DEI, create an apparatus, lure in donors, get paid.
The racial grievance business welcomes little accountability — or accounting, for that matter — which explains why it’s found a home in academia. Many colleges, such as Boston University, or my alma mater Boston College down the road, charge their students exorbitant tuition for useless degrees and boatloads of debt. Tenured professors collect big paychecks while hawking critical race theory, turning students into activists instead of real scholars.
Despite its self-destructive tendencies, the DEI racket continues to spread throughout academia. Some colleges are trying to meet demand for so-called DEI experts by creating a corresponding major, USA Today claimed. At least six colleges across the country offer DEI degree programs or will in the future, according to the publication’s analysis. Tufts University and the University of Pennsylvania even have DEI graduate programs.
Some universities have also woven DEI into their academic missions. Duke University in 2020 launched a Racial Equity Advisory Council, composed of four subcommittees including faculty members and students, which will propose “measures to assess and foster racial equity” to the university’s leadership. Every year since fall 2020, the Duke Endowment has sponsored professors with seed grants to pursue research proposals related to race as part of the school’s anti-racism mission. That’s more money down the drain.
DEI in America’s prestigious colleges contributes nothing, wastes money, and fuels a bubble of empty courses, professions, and promises. But if the shakeout at Kendi’s BU center is any clue, it might be starting to pop.