Netflix’s layoffs earlier this week, which laid off 150 employees, targeted many “social justice warriors” who were working on projects on anti-racism and marginalized communities in what appears to be a “wake-up” move at the company.
The struggling streaming service has pulled the plug on several projects aimed at discussing races with a young audience, Variety reported, and axed the various staff working on and promoting them.
Projects scrapped included Antiracist Baby and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, two adaptations by critical race theory expert Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, as well as a children’s fantasy series, Wings of Fire, from executive producer Ava DuVernay, and the children’s film, Greetings from Kindergarten.
In a memo to employees following the mass layoffs, Netflix executives said of their employees, “As employees, we support the principle that Netflix offers story diversity, even if we find some titles contradict our own personal values. Depending on your role, you may have to work on titles that you deem harmful.
“If you’re having a hard time supporting our breadth of content, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”
Netflix laid off 150 employees on Tuesday, many of whom worked to create and promote projects focused on marginalized communities
The most notable of the scrapped works was Antiracist Baby, based on Ibram X. Kendi’s book of the same name, which was intended to be a series of animated vignettes with music exploring racism in America
Among the newly fired were Olivia Truffaut-Wong (left) and Iydia Wang (right), who worked for Netflix’s Tudum, whose content arm is made up mostly of women of color
Although Netflix cited the need for layoffs due to “a slowdown in revenue and a drop in subscribers,” most of the employees laid off were people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, The Root reported.
In recent layoffs, Netflix has once again targeted members of Tudum, whose content arm is mostly made up of women of color, after dozens were fired from the department in April.
Among the newly fired were Olivia Truffaut-Wong and Iydia Wang, who criticized the streaming giant for axing them and their colleagues.
“I also got fired from Netflix today,” Wang tweeted on Tuesday. “I really loved my job and my colleagues and I’m a little heartbroken!”
Truffaut-Wong also wrote on Tuesday: “OK yeah I’m one of the Tudum layoffs (lol). I’ve done a lot of work that I’m proud of, met a lot of really great writers and editors, and made great friends. It’s the cycle of media life!’
H. Drew Blackburn, another laid-off employee, recalled the tumultuous history of not knowing if he had a job or not.
“An editor from Netflix’s little Tudum project just called me and offered me a job at Tudum,” Blackburn tweeted after being fired. “Then he called me back 20 minutes later to say they had the wrong Drew. Smart minds over there for sure.”
Netflix’s recent layoff further targeted employees at its Tudum office, which was predominantly made up of women and people of color
Netflix’s move also drew backlash from media critics and other animators, who criticized the streaming company for keeping its employees dry after previously preaching the need for a more diverse workforce.
Filmmaker Carly Usdin called Netflix “a joke” and tweeted, “Uhhh, is Netflix just laying off the teams associated with creating and promoting content for marginalized viewers? it seems so.’
Karla Monterroso, who works to bring economic opportunity to women of color, tweeted, “Netflix hired a strong team of developers from a variety of marginalized communities, and they have done exceptionally well.
“Invested us all in her work. At that time they were the first people to be shown the door at the first financial difficulty.’
Matt Acuna, an animator for Bob’s Burgers, also criticized Netflix for the layoffs while taking on other projects with wealthy backers.
He tweeted: “What a great day for Netflix to announce that they are giving Ron Howard, a millionaire with no animation experience, full control of an animated film while wiping out projects that specifically focus on marginalized groups. Strange timing, huh?’
The most notable of the scrapped works was Antiracist Baby, based on Kendi’s book of the same name, which was intended to be a series of animated vignettes set to music exploring racism in America.
Netflix had previously said that the show would “use the power of catchy songs to empower children and their caregivers with simple tools to eradicate racism in us and in society.”
Also canceled was a documentary film titled Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, written by Kendi and aimed at teenagers and young adults.
Netflix is still working on a third Kendi project aimed at adults, titled Stamped From the Beginning.
Also canceled was the children’s fantasy series Wings of Fire, based on the book series by Tui T. Sutherland, which would have had famed black filmmaker Ava DuVernay as executive producer.
Despite being a fantasy story, Wings of Fire explores themes of racism and prejudice through its fictional world.
Another project, which turned out to be a film adaptation of Adam Kline’s With Kind Regard from Kindergarten, was also canceled by Netflix.
Ibram X. Kendi saw two of the three Netflix projects based on his works cancelled
Along with Antiracist Baby, the adaptation of Kendi’s stamped book, which was aimed at children, was cancelled
The fantasy series Wings of Fire, which addressed racism, was also scrapped by Netflix
Adam Kline’s With Kind Regard from Kindergarten has also been canceled by Netflix