Former Microsoft employee recounts racism at Mixer

A former Microsoft Mixer employee recounted racism he says he experienced while at the streaming company, which was recently shuttered by Microsoft.

In a blog post on Sunday, Milan Lee called his two years at Mixer “the worst I’ve ever had professionally” and claimed the poor experience, which spanned 2017 and 2018, was “all due to racism.”

Lee’s first issue at the company reportedly came after he was hired and someone pulled him aside to say he was only hired because he was “street smart.” Lee, who said he was the only Black person working at Mixer during his time there, said he immediately thought of affirmative action.

“I believed I was only hired to meet a diversity goal because I was Black,” he wrote. “Anyways, I decided to brush it off and let it go.”

In another incident, Lee recounted a time when he was in an internal meeting with his manager, who used a slaveholder analogy to compare Mixer to its relationship with content creators on the game-streaming service.

“That analogy was ‘I’m in between a rock and a hard place. What I mean is all the partners are my slaves, I own their content. I control their success on our platform. For me I am the slave master, I own partners,'” Lee said his manager said at the time.

After telling his manager that he was angry with her analogy, the person, who Lee did not identify in the blog post, “had the nerve to Google that analogy to prove why it was okay.”

Lee said that he immediately reported the comments his manager made to higher-ups, but that person never reported the slavery comments to human resources. He resigned a few weeks later.

Still, Lee asked for the Microsoft legal department to investigate the matter, and it did. However, according to Lee, who by then had moved on to a role at Salesforce, the legal team sided with his former manager.

“The reason my manager was not penalized and the reason she still has her job today is because she CANNOT be racist,” Lee wrote. “The reason she CANNOT be racist is because she hired a Black person.”

Lee’s comments come at a time when millions of people around the U.S. are protesting against racial injustice after the killing of George Floyd. The allegations also came just a day before Microsoft announced on Monday that it would shutter its Mixer streaming service next month and transition its content creators to Facebook Gaming.

In a tweet on Monday, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that Microsoft did not decide to shutter Mixer because of Lee’s post.

Spencer also responded to Lee on Sunday, asking him to “connect” with him so he could “learn and understand more” about what happened.

“Racism will not be tolerated on our teams or on our services,” Spencer tweeted.

Lee, who said he had emailed Spencer about the problem while working at Mixer, tweeted on Monday that he spoke to Spencer that day, and said he looks “forward to hearing updates about the issue we discussed and the actions you will continue to take for inclusion and diversity at Xbox/Microsoft.”

Microsoft also issued a statement from its Mixer Twitter and thanked Lee for his post.

“Our goal is to build a positive, welcoming, and inclusive team and community,” the company said. “To those sharing your stories; it’s unacceptable that we did not provide that for you. We’ll be vigilant in addressing this more diligently in the future.”

In response to Digital Trends’ request for further comment, a Microsoft spokesperson said, “We do not tolerate any form of discrimination and thoroughly investigate all employee concerns. We do not discuss the details of such investigations.”

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