San Francisco studio Kixeye is at the centre of some pretty serious allegations of institutional racism, after a person claiming to be an employee wrote a lengthy blog post [Update - since removed] outlining repeated acts of discrimination against he and other black colleagues.
Writing as Qu33riousity, the apparent employee - who says he is now pursuing legal action against the developer - lists several and repeated acts of racial discrimination and improper conduct on the part of Kixeye staff (which we must point out we can't confirm and are seeking the other side of the story on). Some of the lowlights:
The next week I come into work and find a message from Mike on Skype:
"I have to talk to you later, its not a really big deal but they brought it up to me."
We step into a conference room during lunch.
"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."
I take a very deep breath through my nose. I tell [Steve], rather I clarify for him that many things said by him and other people in the office has been racist, sexist, homophobic, transpho-
"Whoa whoa whoa, those comments you're hearing aren't racist; they're jokes!"
"The problem is that you're too sensitive. 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."
I try to push back, pointing out the realities of the world, that there are policies and laws that maintain racial inequality so it's not feasible to check the impact of reality "at the door."
"No, you're too sensitive, that's the problem. I acknowledge that racism happens out there in the world at times, but racism doesn't happen in this office."
"Besides, there are transvestites on the team that I hired."
Oh my lord, so hiring "transvestites" somehow absolves you racist? Prior, I had noticed that indeed there were a few transwomen working in the office. All of them white, and all the while homophic and transphobic comments still riddle the office like bullet holes despite their presence.
Going back to the matter at hand, Steve then proceeds to do what white men always can't help but do: "educate."
"Let me tell you, it's ok to make jokes about slavery because that's over."
Yeah, receiving that felt like a bolt of energy striking the center of my head and slicing my body in two.
"Are you a slave? Is anyone you know a slave? No, so jokes are fine because that's in the past."
For reference, Kixeye is the company behind this infamous recruitment video, and has been actively and publicly seeking out not programmers, but "brogrammers", while at the same time saying things like the way the company needed to "weed out people that wouldn't fit in, that wouldn't fit in to our culture. … There are certain people that are going to respond negatively to that video, and frankly we wouldn't want 'em around anyway."
Also worth noting is that, while the allegations are specific and lengthy, the author isn't beyond a little stereotyping and generalising himself, repeatedly falling back on the line "Dumbwhite**********".
In response to the allegations, a Kixeye representative tells Kotaku "We take all claims of discrimination very seriously. Needless to say, we are thoroughly investigating what is fact and what is fiction and will take appropriate action."
Kotaku has reached out to Qu33riousity for further comment, and will update if we hear back.
UPDATE - The original post has since been removed by the user. Since it's gone, the image up top was taken from there, and is of what Qu33riousity claims to be the outfit he was wearing when called a "thug".
UPDATE 2 - Kixeye CEO Will Harbin has since told Kotaku:
Five hours ago, I was shocked to learn through a blog post of a former short-term contract employee about allegations of discriminatory behavior at KIXEYE. WE TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY. After an initial investigation we've taken substantial corrective action and will continue to do so as appropriate. The actions described in the blog post do not represent the cultural standards at KIXEYE (as demonstrated by our diverse and talented team) and will NOT be tolerated.
UPDATE 3 - We have edited the image of the author above, after he cited concerns for his safety.
UPDATE 4 - Kixeye CEO Will Harbin has announced that four employees at the centre of the allegations have been fired.
Racist Moments of 2012, Pt.1 ~The Workplace~ [Qu33riousity]