Activist and professor Ibram X. Kendi broke his silence Friday over the recent layoffs at his anti-racist research center at Boston University.
Kendi released a statement on Twitter, explaining the thought-process behind the choice to fire members of his staff.
“I had to make the hardest decision of my career and lay off a number of talented and committed staff from the BU Center for Antiracist Research to ensure our long-term sustainability and impact. We are doing our best to support our affected colleagues during this difficult time of transition, and we welcome Boston University’s inquiry into the Center’s operations,” Kendi said.
Kendi stated although many non-profits have had to make make difficult decisions to layoff workers amid America’s broader economic struggles, his has “elicited very strong opinions.” He denied allegations the layoffs stem from financial mismanagement, claiming instead the reason was to “put in place a new structure that would support the mission of CAR for the long term.”
— Ibram X. Kendi (@ibramxk) September 22, 2023
Kendi says he is, “proud of the many accomplishments of CAR’s talented and committed staff, such as The Emancipator, which has more awards than years of existence, and our reports, research and policy teams, COVID Racial Data Tracker, amicus briefs, events, engagement with organizers, National Antiracist Book Festivals, and training and assistance for public writing.”
Kendi said the center’s future plans include, “the first-ever residential fellowship program for antiracist intellectuals, creators, and students.”
He acknowledged the center experienced “missteps” due to it starting during the COVID pandemic, which made “management and culture-building more challenging.”
He finished the statement by suggesting the criticisms levied against his management of the Center for Antiracist Research are partly due to racial reasons.
“Leaders of color and women leaders are often held to different standards and routinely have their authority undermined or questioned. But I want to live in a world where all leaders of new organizations are given time to make mistakes and learn and grow. I want to live in a world where all new organizations are given the time to have growing pains and develop.”
Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University reportedly laid off 15-20 of its 45 staff members last week. The money saved from the layoffs will be used to fund new, visiting scholars, according to Semafor. The center, which was founded in the midst of the 2020 uproar following the death of George Floyd, has only produced two pieces of original research, according to Washington Free Beacon.