‘Employment Violence’: BU Professor Slams School for Mass Layoffs at Antiracism Center

Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi / Getty Images
September 19, 2023

A former faculty member at a Boston University think tank run by "antiracism" guru Ibram X. Kendi accused the university of "unemployment violence" this week after the center laid off staff members.

"This act of employment violence and trauma is not just about individual leaders. It's about the cultures and systems that allow it to occur," Phillipe Copeland, a social work professor who used to work under Kendi at his Center for Antiracist Research, said on Sunday in the first of a series of Facebook posts about the matter. "And too often rewards it. Antiracism is not a branding exercise, PR campaign or path to self-promotion. It is a life and death matter."

Kendi's center, founded in June 2020 at the height of the racial justice movement in the wake of George Floyd's death, fired between 15 and 20 employees, Semafor reported last week. The center had employed 45 people as of August.

Copeland complained on Monday that after he left the Center for Antiracist Research "due to the mismanagement [he] witnessed," the university told him he could no longer lead a fellowship he helped develop called "Designing Antiracism Curriculum."

Kendi, an African American studies professor, became a wealthy man for his "antiracism" work. In addition to his blockbuster books, Kendi received a $625,000 "genius" grant from the MacArthur Foundation in 2021 and charged $20,000 per speaking engagement.

Published under: Ibram X. Kendi