Jemar Tisby, author of The Color of Compromise, has commented on his history with Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research as the organization is scrutinized for its grant and management practices.
Tisby, a historian of race and religion, joined the Center for Antiracist Research in March 2021 as assistant director of narrative and advocacy. As Tisby revealed amid the controversy, his appointment lasted only five months.
“The dozens of people who are affected by these layoffs and the countless more who sincerely engaged with the Center’s work deserve better,” Tisby said on September 21 in an Instagram post.
Tisby, a professor at Simmons College of Kentucky, had stepped down from his nonprofit, The Witness, to work at Kendi’s center in 2021. At the time, he worked virtually but was prepared to move his family to Boston.
“Instead, I chose to resign [from] what seemed like a dream job (on paper) rather than continue,” Tisby said.
He suggested that something felt “off” about his new job, which may have contributed to his decision to leave the Center for Antiracist Research.
He left off his post by reminding followers that “the center is not just its leader.”
“The staff there have been working so, so hard to fight racism and produce good work. They deserve praise for their persistence and admiration for their expertise,” he said.
“The antiracist movement transcends any individual. The work is vital and necessary and it must continue,” Tisby said.
Boston University announced Wednesday that it was launching a probe into the “management culture” and “grant management practices” of the Center for Antiracist Research, directed by Kendi.
The announcement came after reports about layoffs of nearly half of its staff and complaints about workplace culture. There are also questions about how the center has managed the $43 million in grants it reportedly received since its inception in 2020.
Kendi is a well-known author and scholar of antiracism. He has authored several books on the subject, including the bestselling How to Be an Antiracist. Kendi has been praised for his work on antiracism, but he has also been criticized for some of his views. The 41-year-old scholar reportedly first developed an antiracist center in 2017 at American University before moving the program to Boston University in June 2020.