African American contractor speaks out against discriminatory office culture
A blog post from a game testing contractor at social game startup Kixeye making strong allegations of racial misconduct has led to the firing of four employees.
The contractor, dressed in jeans and a wingtip shirt, was told by a Kixeye manager that co-workers thought he needed to dress more professionally.
“Steve wanted me to let you know that we’re dressing too thuggish in the office and we need to dress in a way that reflects the company better,” said the manager.
Later the game tester confronted the worst offender, who responded saying, "Whoa whoa whoa, those comments you’re hearing aren’t racist; they’re jokes!”
“The problem is that you’re too sensitive," he continued. "You need to check all that at the door before you come here to work. We don’t even tolerate people brining up concerns of racism here.”
In a later incident, the same co-worker decided to "educate" his victim on the issue of slavery.
“Let me tell you, it’s ok to make jokes about slavery because that’s over,” he said.
“Are you a slave? Is anyone you know a slave? No, so jokes are fine because that’s in the past.”
“Also, you should be grateful that your ancestors went through slavery. Because that’s a lot worse than anything that’s happening now. So you should be grateful that your ancestor went through that to get you here where you are today at this company.”
The blog post has since been removed, but has been re-printed in full on Venture Beat.
Kixeye has risen to fame following a hugely popular ad campaign poking fun at Facebook games and ending with the slogan, "games for gamers, by gamers."
"While it’s clear that not everything in the blog post was accurate, I did discover examples of embarrassing behavior that I find inappropriate for KIXEYE, or any other work environment," said Kixeye chief executive Will Harbin.
"As a result, I immediately terminated the manager of the team in question and then three other employees who violated company standards as well. We have also taken steps to provide harassment training to the other members of the team, given the poor example set by their manager."
While many in San Francisco have begun to use the term "post racist" as a matter-fact-statement to describe the relatively inclusive work environment, the difference between the mostly affluent white community on the peninsula and the impoverished Oakland across the bay is impossible to miss.
For some, the reality is simply too uncomfortable to face.
"They always (attempt to) make the same point: 'you’re crazy, what you think is happening isn’t actually happening,'" said the self-described "poor black queer" blogger qu33riousity.
"And it’s not a matter of generalizing white people, rather it’s being real about the culture San Francisco creates. Other people of color, including some black people are in on it too, but the thing to remember is that there have always been people of color down with white supremacy. Matters of colonization run deep throughout the years and beneath our flesh, behind our eyes."