Ibram X. Kendi Decries ‘Racist’ Financial Audit After Boston University Clears His Beleaguered Antiracist Research Center

Kendi called on his followers to redouble support for the cash-strapped center

Ibram X. Kendi (Getty Images)
November 7, 2023

Ibram X. Kendi celebrated the conclusion of an investigation into his beleaguered Center for Antiracist Research by smearing the probe as "racist" and calling on supporters to send him more money.

Boston University announced Tuesday it uncovered no evidence of financial misconduct at Ibram X. Kendi's Center for Antiracist Research, which squandered tens of millions of dollars and laid off half its staff in September. The university is still investigating the center’s "operating climate and culture" after former employees described it to the Boston Globe as dysfunctional.

The ongoing investigation didn't stop Kendi from taking a victory lap in a Tuesday statement urging followers to redouble their support.

"[I]f you know my scholarship, then you know I am hardly surprised about the mass circulation of racist ideas about the corrupt Black leader who needs to be surveilled and investigated," Kendi said. "What happened demonstrates just how much CAR is needed—and needs to be supported. I am glad this is behind us so we can get back to work."

The Center for Antiracist Research launched with much fanfare during the George Floyd riots in the summer of 2020, promising to convene world-class academics that would find solutions to racial inequality and injustice. Though it raised more than $50 million since its launch in June 2020, the center produced hardly any original research.

For Kendi, however, the center was a financial bonanza. Boston University loaned $600,000 to a trust controlled by his brother-in-law just weeks after its launch to help purchase a luxury townhouse, and Kendi now charges up to $20,000 for speaking engagements across the country.

Boston University said Tuesday that the Center for Antiracist Research faced a budget crunch in 2023 due to a "steep decline in contributions" driven by the public’s waning interest in supporting antiracism efforts.

Though the Center for Antiracist Research has raised $50 million, only $1.2 million can be used annually to fund its operations, Boston University said in its statement. The center has $30 million locked up in its endowment, and the remaining $20 million is "restricted and can only be spent in specific ways." The university did not elaborate further on what the $20 million bucket can be used for.

Following the financial audit, Boston University said the Center for Antiracist Research will now operate as a nine-month fellowship program for researchers to conduct their own individual projects while contributing to the center’s publication, The Emancipator.