Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian quits board, wants a black replacement
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has quit from the board of the company he started 15 years ago and wants his position to be filled by a black candidate. Making the major announcement on Friday, he said the decision was long overdue. "I'm doing this for me, for my family, and for my country," Ohanian, who is married to tennis legend Serena Williams, said.
Black man's death in police's custody sparked tensions in US
Ohanian's decision comes at a time when the United States is witnessing turmoil after a black man, George Floyd, was killed in Minnesota last month by a white cop Derek Chauvin. An employee at the Cup Foods convenience store had alerted police that Floyd, 46, used a fake $20 banknote to purchase cigarettes. Floyd met with a brutal death in police custody.
Floyd's final words — I can't breathe — angered US
Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground, knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, while the latter pleaded to be let go. Floyd's last words, "I can't breathe," were recorded by onlookers and jolted the nation. Four cops were suspended, arrested, and charged, but that didn't silence protests against racism. In some areas, the protests turned violent and police used force.
Ohanian took the decision for his 2-year-old daughter
Floyd's untimely death also reignited diversity debates in the US, with many looking towards tech giants to lead the change. Subsequently, Ohanian, who founded the social media website with his college roommates Aaron Swartz and Steve Huffman, said he wants to be able to answer questions of his black daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Serena and Ohanian welcomed her in June 2017.
Ohanian wants to answer daughter's "What did you do?" question
"It is long overdue to do the right thing. I'm doing this for me, for my family, and for my country. I'm writing this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: 'What did you do?'," he wrote.
Ohanian pledged $1 million for 'Know Your Rights Camp'
The 37-year-old entrepreneur will use future profits from Reddit stock to help the black community, more importantly, curb "racial hate". He pledged $1 million to Know Your Rights Camp, founded by former NFL star Colin Kaepernick. "I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now. To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: do not stop," he added.
Huffman assured to honor Ohanian's request, thanked him too
Following the announcement, Huffman said Ohanian's request will be honored. "We thank him for this meaningful gesture and all that he's done for us over the years," he added. It's unclear how quickly Reddit would fill the seat. In 2018, Ohanian stepped down from the daily duties of Reddit. Last year, Reddit appointed Porter Gale as the first female board member.
Meanwhile, Serena was hurt with the situation in the US
On the situation in US, Serena earlier said she was at a loss of words. Sharing a hard-hitting clip, the 38-year-old wrote, "A lot of us growing up were taught to pray "Let thy kingdom come," this is what I continue to pray for in addition to so many that have been hurt/killed, or traumatized by how people of a different color are treated."
She supported her husband's decision to quit the board
Meanwhile, Reddit is accused of endorsing racist voices
Ironically, Reddit has for long dealt with the accusation of amplifying racist voices. According to a Business Insider report, more than 25 popular threads went private to raise a voice against the company's policies. This happened after Huffman wrote an open letter to employees saying that the platform doesn't support hate, racism, and violence. In fact, former CEO Ellen Pao also criticized Huffman.
You can't say Black Lives Matter: Pao to Huffman
Pao slammed Huffman for not shutting down r/the_donald, a popular subreddit having 800,000 members, that allegedly promotes white supremacy. "So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don't get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long," she tweeted. In response to Ohanian's announcement, Huffman also underscored Reddit has a lot to do.
Reddit is facing its own challenges: Huffman
"As Reddit has grown, alongside much good, it is facing its own challenges around hate and racism. We have to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the role we have played," he wrote.