Woke Boston University has had to ask itself a painful question this autumn: Is it racist to suspect a celebrated black antiracism activist of colossal financial mismanagement? The rigid agenda progressive academia finds itself in thrall to in America today provided the answer well before the inquiry began.
“[A]n internal audit [has] found no issues with how [BU’s Center for Antiracist Research] finances were handled, showing that its expenditures were appropriately charged to their respective grant and gift accounts,” the university predictably announced on Nov. 7. The Center’s founder, Ibram X. Kendi, who has seen his lofty reputation among cultural leftist elites plummet in recent weeks due to the controversy, was quick to claim vindication via his preferred method of operation: vituperatively flashing the victim card.
Antiracism Means Above Suspicion
“It is unfortunate that individuals near and far spread a false narrative about a black leader taking or mismanaging funds,” Kendi exclaimed in a statement. “But if 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. 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.”
Kendi repeated this racial oppression narrative in an interview with a sympathetic Associated Press.
“Unfortunately, one of the most widely held racist ideas is the idea that black people can’t manage money or black people take money,” Kendi told AP. “It was those two allegations that were expressed and connected to me that, of course, people didn’t necessarily need evidence to substantiate their belief that that happened because apparently my skin color was enough evidence.”
But the professed outrage may not be enough to help Kendi skate by. The last four words quoted above from his haughty statement continue to hover over the “renowned” antiracism “scholar” with an enormous accusatory finger: “get back to work.” What work?
“Upwards of $40 million in financing, no discernible work of value produced, and a sudden need to cut costs to the bone,” Liberty Nation summarized in September when the Center announced it was laying off numerous employees and transitioning into a “fellowship model.” The amount of research produced by the Center in three full years is negligible to the point of nonexistence.
In fact, the true figure in amassed donations gathered in during the height of the 2020 Summer of George Floyd hysteria exceeded $50 million. Boston University’s explanation for where all this money has gone as the Center contracts is confusing, to say the least.
“To be clear, $30 million of CAR’s funds is endowed and only $1.2 million of that can be spent annually, and of the remaining $20 million, much of it is restricted and can only be spent in specific ways,” the university wrote while clearing Kendi.
BU would have a skeptical public believe an entity operating under its name can raise over $50 million and end up three years later facing a budget crunch so significant that it has to lay off a huge chunk of its staff and dramatically pare down its stated functions with no financial irregularities having taken place.
Even in a progressive Boston that positively invites race-driven scams, that is going to be a hard sell.
Pro-Kendi big-box newspaper The New York Times relates how workers at the Center suspected raising money was the true focus all along. BU political science associate professor Spencer Piston “questioned whether the center hewed to donor interests at the expense of interacting with community-based groups,” the paper wrote on Sept. 23. “He cited the participation of the chief executive of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a treatment for sickle cell anemia, in a center conference on public health. The company’s foundation is a donor.” Vertex gave the Center $1.5 million.
Phase Two of the whitewashing comes next: examining the big-ticket donations.
‘No Commitment to Fulfilling Funded Research Projects’
“With the financial audit complete, BU is now turning its efforts to the grants the center received to make sure CAR followed required reporting processes outlined in each one,” the university says. This is where the lack of output is most likely to be problematic.
“The pattern of amassing grants without any commitment to producing the research obligated to them continues to be standard operating procedure at CAR,” Saida Grundy, an associate professor of sociology at BU and former CAR employee, wrote to BU Provost Jean Morrison in 2021, as reported in September by student newspaper The Daily Free Press.
“This is not a matter of slow launch. To the best of my knowledge, there is no good faith commitment to fulfilling funded research projects at CAR,” Grundy asserted.
“There’s a mismatch between the amount of money that CAR has received from these grants and what they’ve actually produced,” an anonymous source stated. “You can juxtapose that with other research centers either at BU or other universities that have received a tiny fraction of what CAR has received and have produced a lot more.”
It’s a nice gig if you can get it. Take in tens of millions of dollars to support your “work,” produce nothing while your operation goes belly up, and then play the role of persecuted martyr when you get called to account. And so, forever holding the moral high ground in the woke world he is taking for a ride, antiracism brand manager Ibram Kendi already knows how the second act of Boston University’s investigation theater is going to end.