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Old tweets from a transgender activist who led the Netflix walkout following the Dave Chapelle comedy special “The Closer” have gone viral for expressing racist, anti-Asian sentiments.
Background: The Netflix special drew heavy criticism for Chapelle’s allegedly transphobic comments.
According to Bloomberg, employees raised concerns that several of his jokes about gender-neutral pronouns and transgender anatomy was offensive and hurtful and felt disappointed that Netflix “continues to release programming with transphobic sentiments.”
Terra Field, a trans software engineer at the company, along with two other employees, were suspended for trying to crash the company’s quarterly business review meeting in protest. The three have since been reinstated, but another employee reportedly quit in protest.
I work at @netflix. Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness - all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups. You're going to hear a lot of talk about "offense".
We are not offended 🧵
— Terra Field (@RainofTerra) October 7, 2021
One more employee was fired for reportedly leaking budget information about “The Closer.”
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos apologized for a company memo in which he doubled down on defending Chappelle’s jokes.
He said he “screwed up those communications,” and that he should’ve acknowledged employees “in pain.” But Sarandos told the Hollywood Reporter, “My stance hasn’t changed ... You really can’t please everybody or the content would be pretty dull.”
This led to a company-wide and allies walkout led by trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston outside Netflix headquarters in Los Angeles on Oct. 20, where they pushed for concrete changes and a list of demands.
Going viral: Amidst the walkout, old tweets written by Preston a decade ago, which appeared to target Asian and Latino communities, recently resurfaced after filmmaker and journalist Matt Orfalea shared screenshots.
COMEDY: The protest accusing comedians of LGBT phobia, hate speech, & violence is led by Warren surrogate who threatened violence against an "ass fuck boy" "dick rider", banished "that faggot fucker", and bragged of performing actual violence on "this Asian bitches head". pic.twitter.com/DMHD1XAzKQ
— Matt Orfalea (@0rf) October 21, 2021
The apology: Preston was a campaign surrogate for Sen. Elizabeth Warren in California during the latter’s candidacy for president in 2020.
The activist, who has previously worked with the Transgender Service Provider Network and Trans Issues for the Stonewall Democratic Club, apologized after her past tweets were first unearthed, claiming she was addicted to meth when she made the tweets.
Taking accountability for the past, staying rooted in the present, and absorbing lessons for the future. pic.twitter.com/yDGXLKX8jU
— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) October 14, 2019
"Preston's old tweets display comments that are racist, homophobic, and misogynistic in nature,” Business Insider noted in 2019.
Netflix walkout: Preston said that Sarandos is “out of touch” and the people around him “don't understand intersectionality.”
"I think, ultimately, we're up against a new emergence of the 'hate economy,' and there is this manipulation of algorithmic science that distorts the way that we perceive ourselves and others,” Preston was quoted by Insider as saying. “And I think that companies like Netflix, Facebook, and Instagram, they play into it and they monetize it."
During the rally last Wednesday, protesters demanded that a new fund be created specifically for trans and non-binary talent.
Preston also demanded trans employees get equal power in a recent Instagram post, “What has been asked of Netflix is to create executive roles and positions of leadership within the company (as well as third party consulting) that would give trans employees equal decision making power when potentially harmful content is being considered for the platform.”
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NextShark has reached out to Preston and her team for further comment and will update this story accordingly.
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