Netflix Lays Off Women Of Color As Stock Plummets

Netflix Lays Off Women Of Color As Stock Plummets

Photo: Elliott Cowand Jr (Shutterstock)

You could launch a rock into oblivion and likely land on a reason to boycott Netflix. Whether it’s the fluctuating prices, the lack of quality content, or the company’s failure to properly address anti-trans jokes made by its hired talent, the streaming platform has pissed off enough people to lose over 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022. Perhaps you’re one of them, or maybe you’re about to be. In the latest round of poorly made decisions by the company, Netflix has laid off a newly hired cohort of writers for their website Tudum, most of them women of color. While many won’t find this to be surprising given the fact that Black and brown women are often the first on the chopping block at all levels of employment, this displacement is not only unjust, but immoral, as these women were hired on specifically to strengthen and diversify the team that was being built.

Tudum, named after the sound of the Netflix logo, launched in December 2021 as a fandom site, promising to bring fans “behind the streams” with exclusive content relevant to popular shows such as “Bridgerton” and “Stranger Things”. But if you haven’t even heard of the website before today, you’re not alone. Several site editors are pinning the platform’s impending doom on its lean marketing efforts. On the heels of Netflix’s Q1 2022 earning reports, the company is not only being forced to recalibrate its spending costs, but has also been named “the worst performer in the S&P 500 this year,” according to The New York Times. Before you go feeling too badly about the financial state of this billion dollar brand however, consider this: The staff that the company has just laid off, some of which moved across the country to accept their positions, now cannot afford to pay rent.

“Well. I just was laid off from a significant contract originally intended through August so I’m looking for stable work… and rent. I need rent,” tweeted Nichole Perkins.

Perkins is a widely read poet, essayist and podcaster with a best selling memoir and bylines that include work for popular publications such as Bustle, and Harper’s Bazaar. Before you think I’m fangirling out, her accomplishments are not just important to me or to pop culture at large, they’re a part of a larger story here about the type of talent Netflix sought out for these roles. Many of the writers recruited for Tudum are highly acclaimed with a long list of contributions to major publications and other media.

“They went very out of their way to hire high level journalists of color who have quite a bit of name recognition and a lot of experience and talent. In some ways, they were just buying clout to lend credibility to their gambit,” one writer told NPR only hours after being let go.

The team brought on to Tudum, most of them Black, Latinx, or Asian women, were promised the opportunity to work in a diverse, progressive environment, exclusive interviews with Netflix actors, directors, and showrunners, and a well paying, secure gig. And now, for many of them, that dream bubble has burst only months after it was conjured.

“We were courted pretty aggressively. They sold us on the most amazing thing that you could want as a culture journalist or entertainment journalist,” said an anonymous former staffer. “They just sold something that seemed impossible anywhere else. But the biggest selling point was the pay.”

On Twitter, many of the writers are publicly seeking new job opportunities, the quicker the better, as they were only granted two weeks severance pay. While the types of employment contracts held throughout the staff varied, no one was given prior notice. A company representative stated that despite the layoffs, the website will continue operating, calling it “an important priority for the company.” But the wellbeing of Black women and other women of color is rarely made the priority, unless of course it’s to sell a t-shirt. The only solace we have in this world just might be the words of Alice Walker’s Celie, “Till you do right by {us}, everything you even think about gonna fail.” And that failure, we are already witnessing.


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