BU’s Center For Antiracist Research Has Laid off Employees
Here Are My Feelings As A Black BU Student: Hopeful For Redemption
By: Deidre Montague
When I was accepted to Boston University, it felt like an answered prayer. As a woman of Faith, I knew God had orchestrated everything for my good and made this acceptance possible.
Once I was accepted, I made a new vision board with all things about BU which included a picture of Ibram X. Kendi paired with a label of the campus’ Center for Antiracist Research (CAR), praying that I, a journalism major aspiring to report on race and social justice, would get an opportunity to volunteer there, gain professional experience, and connect with like-minded individuals.
However, this opportunity never came. Shortly after I emailed to inquire about potential internship/volunteer opportunities for students at CAR, the news broke about the layoffs of a dozen full-time staff members, along with major changes to its operating model.
This was devastating news, especially seeing the staff members share their accusations of mismanagement at the center in The Daily Free Press and the backlash from other media outlets.
Seeing this happen was a disappointment; as a Black BU student, it was encouraging to know that my campus cared so deeply about racial justice and the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (D.E.I.).
I also felt deeply for the full-time employees who were laid off due to personal experience of having this happen to me.
Before I made the career change to journalism, I was in the social work field and was laid off from my full-time case manager position twice due to budget cuts.
It is very difficult to deal with losing a job unexpectedly, and it forced me to navigate a major depressive episode that took prayer and therapy to overcome. Thus, I won’t be disputing or dismissing their experiences or defending the decision to let them go.
Nevertheless, I hope that CAR and Kendi have learned the necessary lessons to move forward because I believe that both its presence and success are critical not just to our campus, but also to the world.
We are currently living in a climate where the Supreme Court decided to end affirmative action; some states are choosing to cut D.E.I. programs in their schools and colleges and banning books about race, social justice, and LGBTQ+ in libraries and schools, according to EducationWeek.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2022 annual crime report shows a sharp increase in hate crimes while national violent crimes have decreased. In 2022, the report states that “the top three bias categories in single-bias incidents were race/ethnicity/ancestry, religion, and sexual-orientation. The top bias types within those bias categories by volume of reported hate crime incidents is Anti-Black or African American for race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, Anti-Jewish for religious bias, and Anti-Gay (male) for sexual-orientation bias.”
This world is getting increasingly hostile toward individuals who are not white, cisgender, or white evangelicals, making it scary for us to live our lives. This center can play an important role in changing mindsets, shifting narratives, and making the world safer for those considered ‘other’ by society.
This data shows that there is crucial work to be done in the fight for racial justice, in which there is space and opportunity for Kendi and CAR to become a force and national leader for the world to watch and take their cues.
Being cleared by BU’s internal audit of no financial mismanagement is a powerful forward step towards redemption.
My prayer is that Kendi and CAR will continue to step forward in this lane.
I pray that Kendi and CAR have learned from their mistakes and are regrouping to make a strong and fierce comeback.
I pray that they will increase the inclusion of students, especially those of us from marginalized groups, into their work in the future.
I call Kendi and CAR to go higher and deeper in their commitment to making the world anti-racist, as lives hang in the balance of its success.
I’m rooting for you to win because as you win - collectively, we all will win the grand prize - a better and just world for all.