Workplace Racism Charges Emerging from Brooklyn’s Left Right News

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[Brooklyn's Left Right News]
Wilkinson: We became increasingly disheartened with LRN due to its discriminatory, defamatory and racist language employed by the Right analysts...Lieber’s apathy and ignoring of the issues is disturbing."
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I and four other analysts have said goodbye to the Brooklyn-based Left Right News after its owner, Michael Lieber, dropped the ball in many ways.

Chiefly, he didn’t account for racism deployed by some of his analysts.

Also, Lieber ignored his own policy that says not to degrade others. There were also reasonable steps requested of Lieber that he ignored.

The latest problem regarding Lieber ignoring his own policy involves Lieber taking no action over LRN analyst Chris McCabe calling Jacob Blake "trash personified". (Lieber should have considered analyst Kimball Call’s calling Blake “a damn IDIOT!” being below the bar as well.)

I proudly added my name to a letter (posted below) written by four other LRN analysts (Andre Jimenez, Evan Saunders, Alec Pronk and Lemuel Sapian) saying that they had to see changes to the policies and culture of LRN or they would “sever (their) relationship.” They said those changes were needed by a week from Sept. 4.

Lieber only responded with further excuses. So all five of us followed through on what we said in the letter or attached our name to. (That left one ranked “Left Analyst,” who is invested in LRN as one of just two LRN podcast hosts and who expressed right-leaning opinions, against four ranked “Right” analysts.)

We became increasingly disheartened with LRN due to its discriminatory, defamatory and racist language employed by the Right analysts.

It’s not like Lieber didn’t have his chances.

On July 16, it was openly demanded that there be a reconsideration of present policies after Call’s racially insensitive comments regarding Reparations and slavery. “We were given no public response,” the letter says.

Then, on Aug. 7, analysts openly demanded a reconsideration of policies concerning racism. The grievance was taken to Lieber by four analysts, who requested that Lieber talk with Call and reconsider the policy.

(The policy says “Do not dehumanize anybody. It is unacceptable to refer to any person or group in terms that designate them as sub-human.”)

“Neither one of those requests was publicly answered,” the letter reads.

The same month, on Aug. 27, McCabe made his comment about Blake. “It is clear that to call someone ‘trash personified’ is dehumanizing, in clear violation of the policy, yet no action was taken, and the analysis is still posted,” we said.

Lieber’s apathy and ignoring of the issues is disturbing.

Jimenez, Saunders, Pronk, Sapian and I felt like we had not been listened to. “Many of us have been deeply offended by the words and ideas promoted on the website, and even more so by the lack of timely and thoughtful responses,” the letter reads.

Despite many accusations of racism, Lieber continued to not respond, in turn, letting the behavior pass by without consequence. When approached about the racist comments levied opposite Black people, Lieber privately said, “All of the examples you are giving of Kimball’s racism is based on your interpretation of Kimball’s words AND your standards of what would be considered racism.”

This is not acceptable.

What was requested of Lieber?

That the accepted description of racism be followed: “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people based on their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.”

There is a culture that can be proven of mechanizing and debasing Black people used by LRN’s Right analysts.

We decided not to publicize our engagement with LRN out of concern that readers will identify this racist speech with the analysts.

All that we asked of Lieber was this:

1. The current policy regarding dehumanizing language is expanded to denounce racist and derogatory language, primarily targeted at minority groups or historically marginalized groups.

2. A policy in place that lists the proper way analysts can be heard when they feel a writer has used racist or discriminatory language. This policy should lay out the type of response and timeline we can expect when public and/or private grievances are made.

3. These changes are announced publicly along with Lieber’s denouncement of the hateful, racially motivated, and defamatory language that has been employed by writers on the website.

4. McCabe’s responses on Aug. 27, Aug. 28, and Sept. 4 be removed because of the policy violation, and he not be compensated for these analyses.”

We told Lieber to “not think that this does not pain us. “We all joined this site because we believed in the mission of bridging the political gap in this country,” we said. “Unfortunately, the website has devolved into a toxic back and forth between liberals and conservatives; no better than the worst comment sections found throughout the internet. Where Left Right was to rise, it has instead backed itself into a corner, with no meaningful steps taken in months to rectify this devolution.”

“The growing racial tension on the site, which results from personal convictions on both sides of the aisle, has stalled this website’s growth,” the letter reads. “This tension paints a bleak future for itself as a haven for unprofessional arguing rather than an original concept that might make a meaningful impact on the political divide.”

A copy of the letter sent to Left Right News' owner Michael Lieber is directly below:

4, September 2020

Michael Lieber

8 Lasoat Inc. dba LeftRight News

1701 Avenue I Brooklyn, NY 11230

Dear Michael,

We, the Left analysts of Left Right News, have become increasingly disheartened with this organization. We feel the discriminatory, defamatory, and racist language employed by writers on the Right has created a hostile working environment. We seek changes to the policie and culture of Left Right News, effective immediately, or we will have no choice but to sever our relationship.

We have made several attempts to contact leadership regarding this developing issue. On July16th, 2020, it was publicly requested that there be a review of the current policies after a Right analyst’s racially insensitive post, involving slavery and Reparations. We were given no public response.

Again on August 7th, 2020, we publicly requested a review of policies regarding racism. This complaint was brought to you by four analysts and also went unanswered. We specifically asked that the writer in question be spoken to and that the policy be reviewed.

The policy in question is: 

Do not dehumanize anybody. It is unacceptable to refer to any person or group in terms that designate them as sub-human. Neither one of those requests was publicly answered.

Later in the month on August 27th, several Right analysts made racist and dehumanizing remarks regarding Jacob Blake. One writer stated Blake is “trash personified.” It is clear that to call someone “trash personified” is dehumanizing, in clear violation of the policy, yet no action was taken, and the analysis is still posted.

Your lack of response and passivity regarding this issue has been greatly concerning. We feel we have not been heard. Many of us have been deeply offended by the words and ideas promoted on the website, and even more so by the lack of timely and thoughtful responses.

Despite many severe allegations of racism, you continue not to respond, thus excusing the behavior. When confronted about the racist remarks made against Black people, you privately stated:

“All of the examples you are giving of Kimball’s racism is based on you rinterpretation of Kimball’s words AND your standards of what would be considered racism.”

This is unacceptable.

We have chosen to employ the standard definition of racism and hope LeftRight adopts this,

“prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people based on their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.”

There is an evident culture of degrading and dehumanizing Black people imployed by the website’s Right analysts. We do not need to reiterate the racist and derogatory remarks; we believe you are well aware. Many of us have declined to promote our involvement with the website for fear that readers will associate this language with us.

To combat the racist culture present at Left Right News, we demand:

1.The current policy regarding dehumanizing language is expanded to denounce racist and derogatory language, primarily targeted at minority groups or historically marginalized groups.

2.A policy in place that lists the proper way analysts can be heard when they feel a writer has used racist or discriminatory language. This policy should lay out the type of response and timeline we can expect when public and/or private grievances are made.

3.These changes are announced publicly along with your denouncement of the hateful, racially motivated, and defamatory language that has been employed by writers on the website.

4.Chris McCabe’s responses on August 27th, August 28th, and September 4th be removed because of the policy violation, and he not be compensated for these analyses. If one or all of these demands are not met, this letter’s co-signers will immediately terminate their working relationship with Left Right News.

And do not think that this does not pain us. We all joined this site because we believed in the mission of bridging the political gap in this country. Unfortunately, the website has devolved into a toxic back and forth between liberals and conservatives, no better than the worst comment sections found throughout the internet. Where Left Right was to rise, it has instead backed itself into a corner, with no meaningful steps taken in months to rectify this devolution.

The growing racial tension on the site, which results from personal convictions on both sides of the aisle, has stalled this website’s growth. This tension paints a bleak future for itself as a haven for unprofessional arguing rather than an original concept that might make a meaningful impact on the political divide.

We offer you one week from receipt of this letter, September 11th, 2020, to make the changes mentioned above.

With Respect,

Andre Jimenez

Evan Saunders

Alec Pronk

Lemuel Sapian

 

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