Ibram X. Kendi’s Center For Antiracist Research Cleared Of Financial Mismanagement Accusations
Kendi is glad to be back to work after a challenging start.
Boston University announced on Nov. 7 that its initial inquiry into Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research found no evidence of improper management of finances.
According to NBC News, after the university acknowledged the center would be laying off approximately half of its staff and changing its operating model in September, it launched an investigation into the organization’s financial health.
Kendi was hired by the university to helm the CAR in 2020 following his successful 2019 memoir, How To Be An Antiracist. That same year, George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police Department, which brought even more attention to Kendi and his work.
On Nov. 7, Kendi shared his feelings on the investigation with the Associated Press: “Unfortunately, one of the most widely held racist ideas is the idea that Black people can’t manage money or Black people take money. It was those two allegations that were expressed and connected to me that, of course, people didn’t necessarily need evidence to substantiate their belief that that happened because apparently my skin color was enough evidence.”
The CAR has raised $50 million. Thirty million dollars of that was placed into an endowment, according to the university. The CAR promised to create projects and research initiatives, some of which it has delivered on, like The Emancipator, an online newspaper which reimagines the abolitionist newspaper of the same name published in New York and Boston in the 1800s Kendi’s version was founded in April 2022.
Other planned initiatives—a graduate program and an undergrad minor program in antiracist studies as well as a database of antiracist campaigns—have been cancelled.
“What they saw us experiencing was quite normal, even if the coverage around it was was abnormal,” Kendi told NBC News.
Former CAR staffers have said Kendi had too much power. If he were given the opportunity to start the center again, he told the Associated Press he would have started it with just a fellowship and the current model. He admitted it was difficult “trying to build a new organization from scratch during a pandemic era while responding to the urgency of the moment.”
Kendi added, “I’ve also learned how steep the learning curve is when you have a startup and you’re in the public life.”
Earl Lewis, a historian and former president of the Andrew Mellon Foundation, agreed that it was not unusual for new research outfits at universities to restructure. “The former provost in me would have actually asked for a document asking, ‘OK, tell me where you want to be in five years,” Lewis told NBC News. “Tell me what you want to try to achieve by 10 years.'”