Ibram Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research Hasn't Produced Any Research

The group announced this month that it would slash a third of its workforce

Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi / Getty Images
September 20, 2023

Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research made headlines this month when it announced it would axe a third of its workforce. But those layoffs may not have much of an impact, considering the center has hardly produced any original research at all.

The Boston University-based center has produced just two original research papers since its founding in June 2020, according to a Washington Free Beacon review. Output from the center’s scholars largely consists of op-eds or commentary posted on the center’s website. The group’s plans to "maintain the nation’s largest online database of racial inequity data in the United States" quickly fizzled out, and the database has been dormant since 2021.

The Center for Antiracist Research is the latest left-wing group to fall on hard times. George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, which gave $140,000 to Kendi’s center, cut 40 percent of its staff in June. The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s revenues fell 88 percent from 2021 to 2022, as support for the movement plummeted to an all-time low.

It is unclear how much money remains in the Center for Antiracist Research’s coffers. Boston University did not respond to a request for comment.

Kendi had high hopes for the center, which employed at least 45 employees as of July. The nonprofit would "foster exhaustive racial research, research-based policy innovation, data-driven education and advocacy campaigns, and narrative-change initiatives," Kendi said, in order to "figure out novel and practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly tractable problems of racial inequity and injustice."

In December 2020, the center launched the "Racial Data Lab," which Kendi claimed would "give us the ability to see the hotspots of racial inequity in real time in this country." As of September, the Racial Data Lab only compiled information on COVID-19 infections and deaths. That COVID-19 tracker stopped collecting information in March 2021. The center has since removed the names of anyone who worked on that project from its website.

The center’s scholars have produced only two research papers, both of which were co-authored with a number of other academics. Elaine Nsoesie, who leads the Racial Data Tracker project at the center, appeared last in a list of co-authors of the January paper "Association of Neighborhood Racial and Ethnic Composition and Historical Redlining With Build Environment Indicators Derived From Street View Images." The paper concluded that neighborhoods with a higher concentration of black residents had more "dilapidated buildings."

In June, Center for Antiracist Research scholar Sanaz Mobasseri published "Racial Inequality in Organizations: A Systems Psychodynamic Perspective," which theorized that "U.S. organizations …treat White men as the dominant group and Black people as the archetypal subordinate." Mobasseri’s two co-authors are not affiliated with the Center for Antiracist Research.

The center’s only other releases were two self-described "policy reports," both of which were released in June 2022. One of the reports was a collection of essays from the center’s "Antibigotry Convening," which took place in late 2021 and early 2022. The report includes sections on "Ableism," "transphobia," and "Anti-fat Bigotry," described in an essay as a "deep-seated and often invisible anti-fat ideology."

On its website, the Center for Antiracism Research would frequently suggest its scholars were involved in research conducted by unaffiliated Boston University departments. In one instance, the center shared on its website a report from its "Research and Policy Team" that "exposes dramatic shortfall by visas for victims of trafficking." In reality, the report was authored by professors associated with Boston University Law’s Immigrants’ Rights & Human Trafficking.

A press release on the report makes no mention of the Center for Antiracist Research. Neither of the two professors who filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against the federal government to obtain the data for the report have any affiliation with the center, according to a review of their resumes.

The center’s most recent press release linked to a Public Health Post article about an increase in hate crimes against Asians. At the bottom of the story, Public Health Post said it is "collaborating with researchers at the Center for Antiracist Research Racial Data Tracker to produce a series of articles focused on structural racism and health."

The outlet went on to claim the dormant Racial Data Tracker will release its findings to the public in "Spring 2023." The story was published in June.

Update: Sept. 20, 1:52 p.m.: This piece has been updated to clarify Elaine Nsoesie's role in drafting a January 2023 paper.