76ers say they’ll investigate claim of bullying, racism within dance team

Philadelphia 76ers
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
0 Comments

A former member of the 76ers’ dance team, Yahne Coleman, alleges racism and bullying within the squad and that the organization’s HR ignored her complaints.

Coleman detailed her claims on Instagram, including a video she says is of another former dance-team member, Annie Weiss (warning: profanity):

View this post on Instagram

First of all Thank you @treysongz , @hollywoodunlocked and you amazing people showing me support. 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. 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. When I auditioned for my 4th year this group of girls called me the night before on the phone saying “your BLACK ass will not be coming back”. I still went to the tryouts and unfortunately that was the end of my 76ers dance team career. It didn’t stop there. 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 called 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 @philadelphiaflyers to hurt another young talented black girl. Sadly, I let this racial bullying incident from this group of women deter me from my dancing career. The women who racially bullied me – Annie Weiss aka Annie Fuhrman her pages @ mommycanyou @ projectstillhuman, Nicole Vernile Current Captain @76ersent , Kerri McDonald Current Dance Coach @76ersent , Danielle Dematteo @philadelphiaflyers Dance Coach, Malinda Ruth , Erica Hammel , Val Dematteo , Julie Kaskiw, Lauren Schwer, Krystal Almora aka Krystal Gregorio @KrystalAlmora , Coach Dayna Hafetz

A post shared by Yahné Coleman (@yahneofficial) on

Coleman also said Lara Price – who’s currently listed in the 76ers’ media guide as “Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, 76ers” – did nothing after Coleman went to her.

Weiss posted an apology:

76ers statement, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

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.

Hopefully the 76ers don’t stop at investigating the bullying and racism specifically alleged here (which is quite concerning) – but also examine whether HR properly addressed Coleman’s complaint at the time. A well-functioning human-resources department is essential for properly handling issues that arise in the future.