The Philadelphia 76ers are investigating allegations made by former team dancer, Yahné Coleman, that she was the target of racist bullying by her former team members. In a lengthy post, which gained traction after Trey Songz reposted it to his Instagram page, Coleman described some of the horrible experiences she was forced to endure during her tenure. She also included a video of a fellow dancer going on a racially-charged rant in which she threatened Coleman and made derogatory comments about her body parts.
“I was scared to release this because I was bullied and racially targeted by my 76ers NBA teammates and former teammates. I went to my coach Dayna Haftez and the Sixers organization crying out for help so many times,” Coleman explained. “I sent the video above of me being racially profiled, bullied and threatened to my coach Dayna Haftez, Lara Price the 76ers Senior Vice President of Business and HR seeking help and nothing was done. They would move my things into the bathroom stall for me to get ready for games. They would make fun of my pictures in a group chat, talking about my black features, and send me videos threatening my safety. I did not want them to run me away from a dream I always wanted to accomplish so I tried my hardest to remain strong through it all. I went through this for 3 years.”
Coleman went on to say that the night before she was released from the team, she received a call from other teammates letting her know that her “black a–” would not be rehired.
“When I auditioned for my 4th year, this group of girls called me the night before on the phone saying ‘your BLACK a– will not be coming back’. I still went to the tryouts and unfortunately, that was the end of my 76ers dance team career,” she recalled.
Sadly, according to Coleman’s account, the torment did not stop there. The bullying continued and her former teammates called her employer and tried to get her fired.
“It didn’t stop there,” she went on, “they proceeded to harass me by calling and leaving hateful racial videos saying they would come to the slums of West Philly Ghetto and physically harm me. I’m not from the ghetto and never lived in the ghetto but because I’m black, they decided to say this laughing and giggling. They went around asking about me, finding out where I worked, and calling my employment saying things to get me fired. I would hate for this group of women who are still working and connected to the Sixers Organization/Flyer Ice Hockey Dance Team Coach to hurt another young talented black girl. Sadly to say, I let this racial bullying incident from this group of women deter me from my dancing career.”
She concluded by identifying the women who appear in the video.
“The women in the video- Annie Weiss aka Annie Fuhrman business pages @mommycanyou @ projectstillhuman, Malinda, Nicole Current Captain , Kerri 76ers Current Dance Coach, Danielle Flyer Ice Team Coach, Erica, Val, Julie, Lauren, Coach Dayna Hafetz TAG @76ersent @sixers @nba @shaunking @fox29philly PART OWNERS @willsmith @jadapinkettsmith #blm.”
The Sixers organization has since responded to the allegations made by Coleman with the following statement:
“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.”
The woman who threatened Coleman in the video, Annie Weiss, has since received a lengthy apology for her actions, which wasn’t well-received by followers.
“I am deeply ashamed of what I said. I should have never said those things to Yahné, and regret being responsible for making her feel like she was less worthy of respect than anyone else,” the apology reads. “Watching the video now breaks my heart. Not only because of the pain I caused Yahné, but because I don’t recognize the person in the video.”
You can read the rest of her lengthy apology below.
We commend Yahné for her courage. Hopefully, other dancers with similar experiences will follow suit.