Saturday Night Live‘s Chris Redd, Veep‘s Sam Richardson, Late Night With Seth Meyers writer Amber Ruffin and Space Force writer Aasia LaShay Bullock are among a group of 19 black alumni and current employees of The Second City improv company demanding an investigation into what they say is the comedy institution’s history of racism and sexual misconduct.
After last week’s resignation of Second City CEO and co-owner Andrew Alexander over accusations of institutional racism, the group of 19 current and former Second City associates have signed an open letter accusing the improv company of “erasure, racial discrimination, manipulation, pay inequity, tokenism, monetization of Black culture, and trauma-inducing experiences of Black artists…”
(See the entire letter below.)
The letter calls for outside, independent investigations into racist behavior and sexual misconduct at the Chicago-based institution, and the removal of teachers, producers, directors and other administrative staff guilty of such behavior. The letter also calls for a “revision and proper accreditation” of the contributions of the black artists “who built your stages.”
Following Alexander’s resignation last week, Second City announced that it would replace the exec with a person of color, then followed up by hiring Second City alum Anthony LeBlanc as Interim Executive Producer.
While acknowledging the hiring of LeBlanc, the open letter authors write that “the task he has been charged with is no more than integration into a burning house.”
“While you use him to sort out a mess decades in the making,” the letter continues, “we will also guide you in moving forward.” The letter then demands that an outside human resources firm be retained, as well as the hiring of “a BIPOC-owned Diversity & Inclusion firm” and the hiring of a BIPOC executive producer by a steering committee with “representatives of the BIPOC LGBTIA+ community” of current Second City students.”
“You use our names to market your business, however we cannot in good conscience recommend the Second City as an effective place for Black comedy to thrive,” the letter concludes.
After Alexander’s resignation last Friday, Space Force writer Bullock spoke out about her assault by another Second City performer. “The wildest part about my Second City experience is that they forced me to quit because they didn’t believe me,” she tweeted. “Then weeks later, for ‘unknown reasons’ they fire the white man who put hands on me, but allowed the narrative to be that they fired him because of me.”
Editor’s note: This updated version of the letter includes corrections to the list of signatories: