'Because I was white' — Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian shares story of walking away from a police encounter in college after he was found drunk and high in his car

Jin S. Lee
  • Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian on Tuesday shared a story on Twitter about police letting him go in college after finding him passed out in his car while drunk and high.
  • “Because I was white. I walked away + started Reddit, not jail time,” Ohanian tweeted. “I’m grateful for that police officer’s tolerance with me + disgusted that it’s so obviously not (never) been afforded to everyone just because of their race.”
  • Earlier in June, Ohanian stepped down from his position on Reddit’s board, calling it a “long overdue” move to “do the right thing” is distancing himself from a platform where racist content lives.
  • He called on Reddit to replace him with a Black candidate, a request the company honoured when it appointed Y Combinator partner Michael Seibel to the board.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian has a shared a story on Twitter about a peaceful encounter he had with a police officer in college to make a point about his white privilege and racial inequality.

In a Twitter thread posted Tuesday, Ohanian disclosed that he was let go in college after a police officer found him passed out in his car while drunk and high. Ohanian said he was able to go home without punishment or harm “because I was white,” and told his followers he was “disgusted” that people of colour wouldn’t be afforded the same leniency.

“I walked away + started Reddit, not jail time. I became an entrepreneur, not a statistic,” Ohanian wrote on Twitter. “I’m grateful for that police officer’s tolerance with me + disgusted that it’s so obviously not (never) been afforded to everyone just because of their race.”

Ohanian shared the story alongside a video about Rayshard Brooks, the Black man killed by police last week at a Wendy’s drive-thru it Atlanta. The shooting is the latest incident amid a long history of Black people in the US dying at the hands of police officers.The Washington Post reports that there have been more than 100 such encounters so far this year. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month set off a slew of protests against police brutality around the world, which are continuing daily in many cities.

The resulting uptick in force of the Black Lives Matter movement has led to a call to hold brands, businesses, and leaders accountable. Reddit, which Ohanian cofounded in 2015, has faced increased scrutiny for its history of providing a home to hateful rhetoric and hate-based communities. After CEO Steve Huffman voiced in a recent employee letter that the platform does not tolerate “hate, racism, and violence,” users and moderators called out Reddit’s “blatant hypocrisy” and demanded he enact a policy explicity banning racism and hate speech aimed at “disadvantaged” groups.

Days later, Ohanian stepped down from his position on Reddit’s board of directors, calling it a “long overdue” move to “do the right thing”. He pledged to use his future gains from Reddit stock to serve the Black community, and called on the company to replace his position on the board with a Black candidate. Reddit honoured his request, and appointed Y Combinator partner Michael Seibel to its board last week.

You can read the full story on Twitter that Ohanian shared about his experience with the police:

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