Ibram X. Kendi’s Ivory Tower Comes Crashing Down

Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research is firing one third of its employees

Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi / Getty Images
September 14, 2023

A university think tank led by "antiracism" guru Ibram X. Kendi is slashing a third of its workforce, the latest in a string of layoffs to hit left-wing activist groups.

The Boston University Center for Antiracist Research is firing between 15 and 20 employees, Semafor reported Thursday. Kendi launched the center in June 2020 at the height of the movement to defund police in the wake of the death of George Floyd. It employed 45 people as of August, according to a since-deleted page on the center’s website reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

Kendi has built a lucrative career teaching people about "antiracism," defined as "the practice of actively identifying and opposing racism." He received a $625,000 MacArthur "Genius" grant in 2021 and charges $20,000 for speaking engagements. His books Antiracist Baby and How to Be Antiracist have landed on the New York Times best-seller list. Kendi has argued the United States is an inherently racist country, asserted that police "inherently are harmful," and called for a constitutional amendment to ban "racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials."

It is not immediately clear why Kendi’s center is slashing staff, but there is some evidence that both the American public and liberal donors have soured on Kendi’s cause. According to a Pew Research poll, support for the Black Lives Matter movement fell from 67 percent in June 2020 to 51 percent in April 2023. Activist groups centered on race issues have seen revenues plummet since their peak in 2020. The Black Lives Matter Foundation’s revenues dropped 88 percent in 2021, and the charity of Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King fell more than 60 percent.

Prominent left-wing advocacy groups have recently announced mass layoffs. The progressive megadonor George Soros’s Open Society Foundations in June announced it would cut up to 40 percent of its workforce. The organization has donated around $140,000 to Kendi’s center. Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, which has donated $1.4 million to antiracism groups, announced it will fire around 50 employees this year.