Case in point: recently, an executive from Snapchat’s parent company was forced to apologize for a disrespectful filter that encouraged users to “break the chains of slavery with a smile.”
Snapchat’s latest filter was set against a Pan-African flag and encouraged users to smile to make chains appear and ultimately break them.
The filter was featured as part of Snapchat’s Juneteenth support effort which rose in popularity amid protests over the death of Georg Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people across the United States.
Users on Twitter were quick to condemn the filter as “tone-deaf” and being superficial in attempts to address systematic racism. In response to the backlash, former Snapchat employees have tweeted out about the company’s lack of diversity. “This is what happens when you don’t have any black people on the product design team,” one Twitter user wrote.
In response to complaints, Oona King, the vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Snap, slammed assertions that the company launched the filter without consulting Black staffers.
“The mischaracterization on social media — that White executives at a tech company failed, yet again, to include Black perspectives — is completely untrue,” King, a Black woman told employees in a Saturday letter. “What is true is that regardless of our diverse backgrounds, we are all human, and humans make mistakes.”
King asserted that Black employees had been “fully involved” in creating and approving the filter. In response to complaints, Snapchat pulled the filter and apologized.
“This mistake has taught us a valuable lesson, and I am sincerely sorry that it came at the expense of what we meant to be a respectful commemoration of this important day,” King said in the letter published by The Verge. “We feel it is perfectly acceptable as black people to celebrate the end of slavery — as we do with picnics, BBQs, street parties, and other forms of celebration across America — and say ‘Smile! Happy Juneteenth; we’re no longer enslaved! But we’re not yet really free either! However for a White person to tell a Black person: ‘Smile! You’re no longer slaves’ is offensive in the extreme.”
Unlike other Silicon Valley giants, Snap has yet to share a report on the diversity of its workforce. Recently they announced plans to publicly release diversity data, “along with additional context and our plans for meaningful change.”
Another day, another racist video uploaded to the Internet. In the latest bigoted clip to go viral, two young white women from Illinois chant about how much they hate Black people and call for the return of slavery.
On Saturday, Springfield, Illinois, resident Gabbi Goldsborough posted a video on Facebook of friends Macy Castleman and Jayde Landers going on a wild rant about their deep hatred toward Black people. The 10-second clip, a screengrab of another video posted August 9 or 10 on Snapchat by user Sam Stieren, shows the women outdoors calling for a return to the times when Black folk were not considered human and were enslaved and brutalized.
“We hate n*****s,” the pair say in unison.
Castleman, who appears in the video wearing a dark-color hoodie, added: “They smell. They don’t work. So we should bring back slavery to whip them n*****s. Bring back the KKK! Wooooo!”
Landers, who is seen in a light-color sweatshirt, then says, “Shh. People like Black people sometimes.”
The video, as can be expected, has validly angered many on the Internet.
“Love how people sit around and act like racism isn’t still a thing. Macy Castleman and Jayde Landers, you have a lot of explaining to do,” Goldsborough writes in her video post on Facebook. “You can say it’s an inside joke or think it’s funny, but it’s not.”
Along with the clip, the young woman, who is biracial, also published private chats she had with Castleman, which shows her unapologetic about video and calling it a joke that she doesn’t have much recollection of.
“That was like three years ago and, if I’m being honest, I don’t remember that at all,” Castleman responds when Goldsborough inquires about the contents of the video through a Snapchat message.
After Goldsborough calls it “fucked up,” Castleman gets defensive.
“I have Black people in my family. Clearly, I don’t feel that way … so you can chill. Also, it was an inside joke with my best friend. But feel however you want about it,” she says.
While the video’s timestamp shows it was posted last week, it could have been recorded previously and added to Snapchat as a “throwback” or “memory” more recently.
In her post, Goldsborough points out that the timing of the recording is nonessential; what the young women say in the video is what’s damning.
“Honestly, I don’t care when you said it. I don’t care if you said it five years ago. The N-word still came out of your mouth, and there’s no excuse. Period. On behalf of my Black side, we’re hurt and so disappointed people still think and believe this,” she said, adding that if Castleman’s claims of having Black relatives are true, they would be really disappointed in her.
In addition to the public outcry, both Castleman and Landers are beginning to also face real-life repercussions for their racist rant.
Castleman, who is seen in the video yelling most of the vile commentary, has been fired from her job at an assisted living facility. On Facebook, the Concordia Village and Lutheran Senior Services addressed the video and their former employee’s involvement twice.
In a post made on Monday, they announce that Castleman was dismissed.
“A disturbing video posted on a personal social media account by a former employee over the weekend has come to our attention. We are disappointed by the personal views expressed by this former employee and regret the adverse attention it has brought upon our community. We have addressed the situation with the employee according to our personnel policies and that individual is no longer employed by Concordia Village or Lutheran Senior Services,” they wrote.
When commenters asked if the company had fired Castleman, they responded that they had.
Both institutions where the women attend, or were previously registered in, have also commented on the videos.
Auburn High School, where Sanders is a senior, made a brief statement on its Twitter account.
“The behavior of the two individuals in the video does not represent the views of our school or our community – what we teach or how we act in our school. There are policies and procedures in place, which will be followed for any students involved,” the school noted in the statement made on Sunday.
One community member, Eileen P McLaughlin, isn’t satisfied. She suggested that the teen be suspended or expelled, noting that not giving the young woman consequences to her actions would leave a “dark stain on your school.”
The Auburn Community Unit School District #10 said it has started an investigation into the video but indicated that the process has been difficult because the video was released publically while school is still on summer break.
Similarly, Lincoln Land Community College, the school where Castleman was enrolled as a nursing student, posted a statement on Sunday to their Facebook.
“In light of a situation brought to the attention of the college administration, I would like to assure our community that Lincoln Land Community College is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment that is free from all forms of harassment and discrimination,” President Dr. Charlotte Warren on Sunday. “LLCC values diversity. We respect and celebrate the differences among people, cultures and ideas. We recognize the inherent dignity and worth of everyone throughout the college community. We promote a safe and inclusive environment for all.”
Warren added: “… If this situation involved a current student at LLCC, then it would be investigated and adjudicated per the policies and procedures of the College.”
Both Castleman and Landers have either set their social media to private or deactivated their accounts.