- Hundreds of employees at the home goods retailer Wayfair walked out of the retailer’s headquarters on Wednesday in protest of the company selling furniture to a government contractor that runs migrant detention facilities.
- After discovering that the company had sold $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture for a center that holds migrant children, over 500 employees wrote a letter asking for Wayfair to stop selling to this contractor and others that run similar operations.
- The protests were carried out after the company did not comply with the demands, but shortly before it started, Wayfair’s co-founders made a $100,000 donation to the Red Cross.
- While protestors appreciated the donation, they say that it does not address the issue at hand and have promised to continue this discussion with management at Wayfair.
Employees Speak Up
Employees at the home goods retailer Wayfair staged a walkout on Wednesday after learning that the company had sold $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture to a government contractor that runs a detention center for migrant children in Carrizo Springs, Texas.
The government contractor at the root of the issue is a nonprofit organization called BCFS, which made headlines last year for its harsh treatment of migrants. In September, Wayfair sold furniture to a BCFS facility in Tornillo, Texas that held more than 2,500 teenagers, according to the Washington Post. That camp was closed in January following “serious safety and health” concerns.
Aside from the contractors’ reputation, news of this Wayfair deal came amid outrage over reports that children were being denied basic items including toothpaste and soap at a detention center in Clint.
More than 500 employees signed a letter to executives after finding out about the contract with BCFS. In it, they urged the company to stop doing business with BCFS and other similar contractors that participate in the operation of migrant detention camps. They also called for the company to create a code of ethics for business- to business- sales.
For the record, here’s the letter the employees sent, which includes the details of the B2B order that wayfair fulfilled. pic.twitter.com/mfKs1krawu— Dais (@sun_daiz) June 25, 2019
Management at Wayfair responded with their own letter, telling employees that they appreciated their passion, but defended their actions saying: “It is our business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws of the countries within which we operate.”
Social Media Users Weigh In
Soon after, a Twitter account appeared dedicated to organizing a walkout.
News of the planned walkout spread quickly on social media on Tuesday and generated international attention, prompting many to call for a boycott of the company. Politicians even chimed in. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about the walkout, saying: “Wayfair workers couldn’t stomach they were making beds to cage children.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, also weighed in saying, “The safety and well-being of immigrant children is always worth fighting for.”
Walkouts & Red Cross Donation
Several hundred employees protested in Copley Square near Wayfair’s Boston headquarters on Wednesday, including engineers, product managers, visual artists, and others.
In these dark times, seeing this constant stream of employees walk out of the Wayfair offices is making my heart soar.— Lucky Tran (@luckytran) June 26, 2019
They are putting their values over personal risk.
They are showing the real power everyday people have.
But shortly before the protest began, Wayfair cofounders Steve Conine and Niraj Shah sent a note to employees. In it, they said they both “care a great deal about humanitarian issues,” and added, “We agree that there is a crisis at the border and people there are in need.”
The co-founders then told employees that the company would donate $100,000 to the Red Cros to support its “efforts to help those in dire need of basic necessities at the border.”
The Red Cross confirmed receiving the funds saying it was “grateful for Wayfair’s generous donation,” the Chicago Tribune reported. They also said it would put the money towards community-based organizations that are helping with the migrant crisis at the southern border.
Still, protest organizers say the donation does not actually address their concerns.
According to the Boston Globe, one employee said she and other organizers walked out of a meeting with Shah on Tuesday when he refused to meet their demands.
Vox issued a similar report, saying that during that afternoon meeting, the co-founders discussed giving a large donation. “There are questions about which charity to give to avoid anyone being seen as too political,” the employee told Vox. “They said no outright to the ACLU. A lot of it was them not trying to commit to anything too specifically.”
At one point at least one employee asked Conine if the company could meet their two demands and Conine responded that he couldn’t give the answer they wanted to hear. Employees were not satisfied with those responses and pushed forward with the protest.
As far as what happens next, an organizer told the Cut that the walkout was considered a success, but said the demands have still not been met. The online magazine reported, “The protesters will continue speaking with management to try to ensure that their business won’t be profiting off of human misery.”
See what others are saying: (The Boston Globe) (Vox) (CNBC)
Kings of Leon Will Become One of the First Bands To Offer an Album as NFT
- The band Kings of Leon will release its new album Friday as a non-fungible token (NFT), making it among the first bands ever to release a full album in such a format.
- The album will also be released on Spotify and Apple Music on the same day in a more traditional format.
- In recent days, celebrities such as Grimes and Logan Paul have made headlines for multi-million dollar earnings from sales of digital art and video NFTs, which are increasingly becoming viewed as a new form of collectors’ items.
Kings of Leon to Release NFT Album
Kings of Leon will soon become one of the first bands in history to release an album as a non-fungible token (NFT).
While controversial, NFTs are gradually gaining prominence as a new form of collectors’ items, and the band’s new album, “When You See Yourself,” is no exception to that.
Once it launches on Friday, it will be available for purchase in NFT form for two weeks. After that, no more NFTs of the album will ever be made.
The exact same album will also be released on Spotify and Apple Music the same day. Unlike the NFTs, these versions of the album will still remain available to stream and purchase even after two weeks’ time.
So What Is an NFT?
There’s been a lot of confusion around NFTs in recent days, especially as more and more headlines tie major celebrities to them.
For example, Grimes recently sold $6 million worth of NFTs as digital art. Meanwhile, YouTuber Logan Paul first sold $5 million worth of NFTs last month before then raking in another $880,000 from NFT sales.
Think of it this way: Money is fungible, meaning if you trade $1 with a friend, both of you still have a dollar at the end of the day. Millions of other people across the country also own similar dollars that carry the exact same value (some even have millions of dollars each, and I’m very jealous).
However, something is non-fungible when it has a unique identity and can’t be replaced in a trade. For example, you buy a handmade ceramic bowl that your friend made in her art class. No one else in the world will have that exact same piece of art as long as you retain ownership.
NFTs work in a similar way, except they deal strictly with digital files. For example, Logan Paul’s NFT sales page is filled with clips of Pokemon card pulls. Despite those clips being readily available on YouTube to anyone with internet access, some of them have nonetheless sold for up to $20,000.
“Total mint of 3 NFTs for this moment,” the description for his NFTs reads. “This product represents digital ownership of the NFT video of this moment only. This does not represent ownership in a card, a physical asset or of the YouTube video.”
That’s where this gets tricky. Consumers are buying a “moment” but not actually the copyright of the video or even the card featured in it. As mentioned earlier, despite owning the digital file of that moment, pretty much anyone can find a way to access or view it, depending on what it is.
In that sense, NFTs aren’t quite like platforms such as OnlyFans where users pay to view hidden content.
“To put it in terms of physical art collecting: anyone can buy a Monet print. But only one person can own the original,” The Verge noted.
See what others are saying: (CNBC) (Rolling Stone) (The Guardian)
Epic Games Acquires “Fall Guys” Maker Tonic Games Group
- Epic Games said Tuesday that it acquired Tonic Games Group, the parent company behind “Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.”
- Under this deal, “Fall Guys” will have the backing to improve and potentially add cross-play features that exist in other games Epic owns, like “Fortnite” and “Rocket League.”
- For now, nothing in the game has changed, though the companies said they plan to bring it to Nintendo Switch and Xbox in the future.
Epic Games Buys “Fall Guys” Maker
Epic Games announced Tuesday that it acquired the parent company behind the popular game “Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.”
That company is Tonic Games Group, which owns Mediatonic Games.
Epic Games did not release information about how much it paid for the deal when confirming it on its website.
As many online have noted, the family-friendly game seems like a good match for Epic, which has already had massive success with “Fortnite.”
The deal also adds to Epic’s growing portfolio of content. It already has its game-making software– the Unreal Engine as well as its own storefront– the Epic Games Store. It also has previous acquisitions including the video chatting app, House Party, and Psyonix, the game developer behind “Rocket League.”
What This Means for “Fall Guys”
Mediatonic, for its part, expressed excitement about having the backing to improve “Fall Guys” and bring it to more players.
“Your gameplay isn’t changing and neither is our mission to bring Fall Guys to as many players as possible,” Mediatonic explained in a statement about the deal.
It also noted that the companies still plan to bring the game to Nintendo Switch and Xbox in the future.
For now, there’s been no word about whether “Fall Guys” will become free to play in the future, which Epic did with “Rocket League.”
Still, both companies have expressed interest in introducing cross-play and other features that “Fortnite” and “Rocket League” already have.
“Epic essentially becomes the equivalent of a digital theme park,” video game investor and start-up advisor Joost van Dreunen said in an interview with The Washington Post.
“It is developing a content portfolio that has an aesthetic consistency of bright, colorful, and fun online game play,” he added. “It stands to reason that large IP holders like Disney and others will want to explore releasing special events and activities.”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (The Washington Post) (Variety)
6 Dr. Seuss Books Won’t Be Published Anymore Because of Racist Imagery
- Six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced Tuesday.
- The late author’s company said the decision was made last year after months of feedback from audiences, teachers, and other specialists in the academic field.
- However, many school districts and groups have moved away from Dr. Seuss for years because of racist stereotypes and insensitive imagery in some of his work.
Production of Six Offensive Books To End
Six Dr. Seuss books will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy said Tuesday.
The list of books blocked from production are:
- “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”
- “If I Ran the Zoo”
- “McElligot’s Pool”
- “On Beyond Zebra!”
- “Scrambled Eggs Super!”
- “The Cat’s Quizzer”
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises wrote in its announcement letter. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”
Examples of Offending Content
A 2019 study published in the journal “Research on Diversity in Youth Literature,” looked at 50 books by Dr. Seuss and found 43 out of the 45 characters of color have “characteristics aligning with the definition of Orientalism,” or the stereotypical, offensive portrayal of Asia. It added that the two “African” characters both have anti-Black characteristics.
The study even pointed to specific examples. “In (“The Cat’s Quizzer”), the Japanese character is referred to as ‘a Japanese,’ has a bright yellow face, and is standing on what appears to be Mt. Fuji,” the authors wrote.
It also pointed to “If I Ran the Zoo” as an example of Orientalism and White supremacy.
“The three (and only three) Asian characters who are not wearing conical hats are carrying a White male on their heads in ‘If I Ran the Zoo.’ The White male is not only on top of, and being carried by, these Asian characters, but he is also holding a gun, illustrating dominance,” the study authors wrote. “The text beneath the Asian characters describes them as ‘helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant’ from ‘countries no one can spell.'”
The study also argues that since the majority of human characters in Dr. Seuss’ books are White, his works center Whiteness and thus perpetuate White supremacy.
Academic Groups Move Away From Seuss
The company told the Associated Press that the decision was made last year after months of feedback from audiences, teachers, and other specialists in the academic field.
Still, it’s worth noting that it also comes a week after a school district in Virginia made headlines for allegedly banning books written by Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel.
The district eventually clarified that it was not banning his books. Instead, it said it was discouraging the connection between Dr. Seuss and “Read Across America Day,” which falls on the author’s birthday: March 2.
The decision to move away from Dr. Seuss books is not actually an uncommon move. School districts across the country have been doing the same.
The National Education Association, which founded “Read Across America Day” and deliberately aligned it with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, is included in that shift.
According to AP News, it’s been deemphasizing Seuss for years now and encouraging a more diverse reading list for kids.
While many have applauded Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ decision, others noted that it will continue to publish more popular books that have received criticism, including “The Cat in the Hat.”
For now, the company said it’s “committed to listening and learning and will continue to review our entire portfolio.”