In an open letter to Complex Networks posted on Twitter this week, erstwhile employee Tiffany Wines points out the hypocrisy—the sheer balls, if you will—of the media organization issuing a statement declaring that it’s officially against police brutality against black people, when Complex is such an unfair, unsafe workplace for black women.
I of course stand with Wines (and with wine, for that matter). Down with racism, and down with Complex!
Ironically, if this letter is any indication, Complex doesn’t sound like a particularly complex network. It sounds like the management there consists primarily, or perhaps entirely, of Arab guys.
I’m basing that on the guys’ names. Though I suppose they could be black guys who took on Arab-sounding names in prison. Are they from Philadelphia? But I feel like someone would have pointed that out by now. Wines herself probably would have pointed that out.
In the letter, she calls for the resignation of Jay Salim and Arman Walia. In the spirit of magnanimity, she stops short of calling for them to commit Japanese ritual suicide. But why doesn’t she just call for them to be fired? We don’t even learn who’s in charge over at Complex. Is it Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who sometimes posts 2Pac lyrics (complete with the dreaded n-word) on Twitter?
Sometimes these media companies give disgraced former employees the opportunity to resign their position rather than being officially fired and then escorted out of the building by security. I’m assuming that’s what happened at both the New York Times op-ed page and Bon Appetit. You can’t get that $900 a week unemployment if you quit, but you can’t get it if you get fired either. At least the latter spares you some embarrassment.
Arman Walia is the head of Complex’s social media team, which apparently consists of multiple people, one of whom, up until just now, was Tiffany Wines. These are just the people who post links to Complex articles on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Grindr, etc., right? I feel like the technology exists to automate this process, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t replace Wines. This could be an opportunity to save a few dollars, what with the state of the economy.
Wines complains that Walia didn’t contribute anything at all to the posting links on Twitter or whatever and yet was eager to take credit for the success of the team. I guess they drove a lot of traffic back to the site? Analytics software can determine the source of a site’s traffic, but not necessarily which team member in particular spammed the TL.
Walia must not have been as eager to praise anyone else. Wines says he mostly ignored her, except when presented with the opportunity to bully her on Slack. Walia, she says, was always finding new ways to criticize, demean and undermine her work. It’s not clear to me what this means. The work was just pressing a button, right? I wonder if her grammar was bad, and he made fun of her for it. Her letter is reasonably well put together for what it is, but I wish it went into more detail about what this guy supposedly did to her.
Jay Salim is the head of HR at Complex, despite being a guy. I’m surprised Wines didn’t mention that in her letter. I feel like that position should rightfully belong to a woman. Wines says she went to Salim to complain about Walia, and he assured her that he took her complaint seriously, despite the two of them being longtime friends and having worked together at another media company. Is that how Walia got the job in the first place? No wonder he doesn’t contribute. He might not even have the app on his phone.
Then in April there was an incident with some weed cookies that some rappers left out in the open in the Complex offices and I guess didn’t properly label. Was there a sign stating that they were free for anyone to eat? Regardless, Wines had enough that she couldn’t find her way home one evening. Her friends, she says, spent the night calling hospitals and the police looking for her. She says Salim gave her the week off to dry out, but he wouldn’t issue a company-wide memo saying what happened. People may have thought she had a drug problem.
Wines says she never felt safe in the Complex offices after that. I don’t blame her. What if she unknowingly ingested some substance, forgot where she was, and some guy in fancy tennis shoes took advantage of her? It might even be for the best that she’s on her way out the door. When she was let go, she was given $15,000 in severance pay, i.e. three years’ salary at XXL, in exchange for signing an NDA, which she’s obviously since violated. Hopefully they don’t ask for that money back, or worse, sue her into Bolivia.
Sometimes it’s necessary for a black woman to bitch and moan about how she was supposedly mistreated. Complex claims to stand with the black community. Here’s an opportunity for them to show just how committed to the cause they really are.
Take it easy on yourself,