Do the 76ers need to work on their culture?
The team said in a statement that it plans to launch an investigation after Tuesday’s Instagram posts about Yahne’ Coleman, a former team dancer, and Anthony Ngo, the team’s former director of facilities management.
Coleman, who is Black, wrote about being bullied, racially targeted, and neglected while working as a member of the Sixers’ dance squad in an Instagram post by singer and songwriter Trey Songz. Coleman said she alerted her coach, Dayna Hafetz; dance director Debbie Apalucci; Sixers chief operating officer Lara Price; and others in the organization for help.
“They did nothing,” Coleman wrote.
One video showed a former dance teammate making derogatory comments about Coleman. She belittled Coleman while threatening to “find you in whatever project you live in. I will slum it to the west side of Philly just to find your [butt], beat the [stuff] out of it, and get you backlisted from whatever club you think you can get in.”
The Sixers released a statement late Tuesday night to The Inquirer:
“Tonight, we were made aware of social media posts involving former dance team members that contained insensitive, offensive and unacceptable remarks, as well as allegations of bullying and racist behavior. The videos, which were filmed in 2016, featured derogatory comments from a former dance team member who left the organization in 2013.
“We take this situation very seriously. We intend to investigate this matter immediately and remain committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and equality.”
Coleman left the organization in 2015.
In a separate Instagram post, Ngo thanked Coleman for speaking her truth. Ngo, who is a person of color, added that he wanted to speak his truth when the Sixers recently posted the organization’s support of Black Lives Matter on social media. He said something held him back at that time.
“However, the privilege and classism they exuded on a daily basis was too much to stomach,” he wrote. “Being in middle management as a director within the company, I had a first-class ticket to witness some of the most egomaniacal events being carried out by the uppermost echelon.”
Ngo, a Philly native who left on his own accord, grew up a fan of the Sixers. He said being a fan is impossible after working for the organization.
“From CEO’s trash talking beloved players,” he wrote, “... upper management hazing folks out of spite, misogynistic and predatory behavior from said management, hundreds of thousands of dollars being mishandled all the while they raise your ticket prices.