Former Dungeons & Dragons freelancer Orion D. Black posted an open letter accusing Dungeons & Dragons’ parent company Wizards of the Coast of exploiting black people.
Not only does Black accuse the company of exploiting black people, but Black also claims Wizards of the Coast only pays lip service to diversity and attempts to silence anyone who criticizes them.
Black’s accusations come after they announced they were no longer working on Dungeons & Dragons and Wizards of the Coast on July 3rd.
In a Twit Longer post, Black first describes why they took a job at Dungeons & Dragons.
Black writes, “I took the job for two reasons. The first was for the dream. To escape poverty doing what I love, writing and making games. The second was to make D&D welcoming to the millions who are scorned by it.”
Black then claimed that Wizards of the Coast has a policy of removing people who like a tweet or post, retweet or even follow people who criticize the company.
They wrote, “Liking a tweet or post, RTing, or even following people who speak ill of WotC can lose you your job in an instant. That’s why you never see it happen. @Zbeg is 100% correct. It’s a silencing tool. I can say more now.”
Black then goes on to indicate that many of the people at Wizards of the Coast were not ready for them to be there. Black wrote, “Most people in that group were not ready for me to be there, a nonbinary Black person who would actually critique their problems. Idk what they expected.”
The former D&D freelancer goes on to write that they received a lot of smiles and vocal support, but no real action, “I got a lot of smiles and vocal support, but it was followed by inaction and being ignored. My coworkers were frustrated for me, and still are now. I confided in them often, cried on shoulders on a few occasions.”
Black goes on to detail that they received little work claiming to receive only two assignments in five months and that in order to get work they had pursue it because “leadership didn’t really care about me or my growth.”
Black then accuses Wizards of the Coast of hiring them as a “diversity hire.”
Black wrote, “I firmly believe that I was a diversity hire. There was no expectation for me to do much of anything. I probably disrupted them by being vocal and following up. It didnt matter if I was supported by seniors and positive.”
Black elaborated, “I think genuine people proposed me as an option and it was accepted because it would look like a radical positive change. It would help quiet vocal outrage. And because I had to stay silent, it was a safe bet.”
The letter continues, detailing the company was only paying lip service to diversity initiatives.
Black wrote, “They would talk about how they’re going to start working on treating staff better, retaining contractors, actually answering questions. How much they were invested in diversity and change even though they hired two cis white dudes into two big leadership positions during this.”
“One of whom claimed that he doesnt know what he’s doing. No shit. I never want to hear “maybe they just hire the best person for the job” again,” Black added.
Black then accuses another Wizards of the Coast employee or freelancer of stealing their work.
“I found out that some of my work was stolen, which destroyed me. It lined up with a project they were going to do and I had sent it in to someone in leadership months ago,” Black wrote.
Black continued, “The project was announced and this person who contributed “forgot” that we had a meeting where I gave them my ideas, and then a follow up document the day after. I knew nothing was going to be done about it.”
“Someone else told me that the person said sorry that they forgot. That’s it,” Black concluded.
Black then details that they suffer from a number of issues, “I have depression and anxiety and ADHD, all of which I manage pretty well. But those parts of me were under the pressure of being ignored, disrespected, “forgotten”, and not being able to say a word to the world.”
The letter then accuses Wizards of the Coast of exploiting black people.
Black wrote, “Then, as social unrest continued global due to BLM, the D&D team comes out with their statement. It was like a slap in the face.”
“How much they care about people of color, how much changing things (that I and others had been pushing for months, if not longer) was just going to happen now,” Black continued.
Black added, “It took weeks of protesting across the globe to get D&D to do what people they hired have been already telling them to fix.”
He then specifically made the accusations, “You cannot, CANNOT say Black lives matter when you cannot respect the Black people who you exploit at 1/3rd your pay, for progressive ideas you pick apart until it’s comfortable, for your millions of profit year over year.”
Black added, “People of color can make art and freelance, but are never hired. D&D takes what they want from marginalized people, give them scraps, and claim progress.”
Later in the statement, Black doubles down on accusing Wizards of the Coast of exploiting black people.
Black wrote, “Trust actions, not words. Not “look at how much we freelance so and so”, because freelancing is exploitation of diversity with no support for the freelancer.”
“Not “here we finally did what we KNOW we should’ve done a long time ago”, because they only care about how optics turn to dollars,” Black continued.
Black added, “EVERYTHING involving D&D will continue to farm marginalized people for the looks and never put them in leadership. They wont be put on staff. They will be held at arms length. I hope they prove me wrong.”
The letter concludes, “That said, I dont recommend to anyone, working for the D&D department of Wizards of the Coast.”
Black’s letter comes in the wake of a another open letter written by Cozy Gang Podcast host Lawrence Harmon.
In Harmon’s letter, he accuses Wizards of the Coast and more specifically Magic: The Gathering of ignoring “the existence of its black player base.”
He also accused the company of a “gross act of tokenism” after they highlighted a number of black individuals including Greg Orange for their accomplishments and work around the game.
Harmon specifically takes issue with Magic: The Gathering highlighting Orange because they had previously not invited him to their Mythic Invitational.
Towards the end of Harmon’s letter he writes, “Both Wizards and the community at large are guilty of making black people feel unwelcome in Magic. It’s time that changed.”
Harmon’s letter would be followed up with a letter from Zaiem Beg, a former contributing editor and editor-in-chief of Magic: The Gathering website ChannelFireball.com.
In Beg’s letter, he accuses Wizards of the Coast or racism specifically in their hiring and employment practices.
Beg writes, “I know the time a black writer messaged Wizards asking about writing openings for eighteen months and was told they were not accepting new writers, then continued to keep hiring white writers over that time.”
He would add, “Or all the times a person of color got fired (contractors, natch) for their first offense but saw their white coworkers get second- and third- chances for the same thing.”
Beg as noted in Black’s letter also details that Wizards of the Coast monitors social media activity.
Beg writes, “Social media activity is closely monitored. If this note gets shared on Facebook, no Wizards of the Coast employee or content creator, no CFB writer, no Arena streamer, no podcaster is likely to engage with it in any way. Not a like on a tweet. Not a Facebook react. Doing that carries too high a risk of the silent death penalty.”
He concludes his article saying, “Wizards of the Coast is a rotten company with a long unbroken pattern of insidious racist behavior wrapped in self-congratulatory praise.”
“You can print all the Teferis and Saheelis and Chandras you want, but it doesn’t make you racially inclusive when the people profiting off it all are almost exclusively white. And people of color can’t get in on it even when they try.” He continued.
He added, “That’s not inclusive; it’s exploitive. That’s the Wizards I know.”
What do you make of these open letters and the accusations being leveled at Wizards of the Coast in regards to both Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering?