On May 7th, Luiz Gustavo Queiroga he felt represented in VALORANT by the characters Phoenix and Raze, also black, and expressed his joy on Twitter. “Yes, at VALORANT I only play with them because they are black! Representativeness is everything”, wrote the sports journalist from ESPN Brazil.
It was enough for Queiroga to be pursued.
Racist responses to the tweet were part of a campaign coordinated by the channel Xbox One Degree, which has more than 170,000 subscribers and gained notoriety on YouTube from 2015 with the speech to promote the Microsoft console and report “cases of disfavor to the platform by the media and influencers”. However, over the years, the group gained notoriety for racist, transphobic and misogynistic publications and statements, in addition to harassment of journalists, youtubers and media streamers.
The persecution of Queiroga was the first moment in which Ricardo Regis he decided to transform a feeling of revolt into a willingness to act.
“I was very touched”, says the video editor, who is black and founder of games channel Nautilus.
A month later, he emerged as the main organizer of a movement in the Brazilian gaming community that helped to expose, once and for all, the hate speech of the Mil Grau, resulting in the demand by Microsoft that the group stop using the Xbox branding, banning the group’s channel on Twitch, and removing content and removing monetization from YouTube channel videos.
But for Regis, the feeling of injustice goes back to before the channel’s hate speech that it helped topple.
Racism had already made him abandon the production of game content since January, when he stopped publishing videos on the channel he helped create. “As a black person, we feel alone. We have to deal with matters of blackness alone, and we are not even invited to talk about video games”, complains. “I want to be like you, I wanted to be able to do what you think exists in your mind, that ‘there is no color’. Black people do not have access to the next generation console because it is expensive, and I see few black people in game journalism “.
“I don’t think my role is to teach the guys [sobre racismo]. This is individual responsibility, they had to learn. So I went upstairs. For me, the strategy is not to teach. It’s debauchery “, explains Regis.
With that, the editor started pointing out excerpts of videos with racist lines from the group on their social networks. “From there, they wanted to take me seriously”. On the day that Regis started to expose the group, the members of the Mil Grau channel opened a live YouTube broadcast playing the game Sea of Thieves, with the title “I hate monkey”. The video thumbnail showed a 3D model of the animal inside the pirate game.
“It’s the kind of thing they’ve been doing on the internet for a while: playing as hard as possible. We know what they mean by that. It’s their strategy”, points out Regis. “Then, I mocked a lot of their faces. I took them seriously and they followed: blackness became a big theme of their content”.
Eighteen days after the affair with Queiroga, racism took over the public debate with the death of the American George Floyd, in Minneapolis (USA). Floyd died after the then policeman Derek Chauvin kneel on his neck and choke him for almost 10 minutes while lying on his stomach and handcuffed in the street.
Floyd’s death, the latest of countless cases of police violence against the black population, sparked a wave of protests in the United States, with repercussions for the games industry: events have been postponed and several companies, including Microsoft itself, have repudiated racism.
Five days after the event, one of the members of the Mil Grau channel published a tweet with an image of protesters in the USA, mostly black, alongside another image, with astronauts on the rocket of SpaceX that took off from the US towards International Space Station (ISS). Above, a caption: “What black people are doing today / What white people are doing today.”
Twitter / Playback
“For me, that was so explicitly racist, that I shared the image on my profile, and from there it generated some commotion”says Regis. “Some people who followed me because of my work at Nautilus, and several of them started to come together, indignant. They were seeing, I believe, that someone was taking a stand.”
On the same day, Regis started receiving several videos that exposed the hate speech of the members of the group. “From then on, I asked everyone to give me the material they had. I work with video editing and I’m going to expose these guys”, he recalls, pointing out that all the material, including the cuts, had been produced by Mil Grau himself and his fans. “All I used were videos saved by them. They made a dossier against themselves.”
From then on, the conflict grew. Each day, Regis helped coordinate pressure on the platforms where the Mil Grau channel produced content, and Microsoft itself, whose console lent its name to the group. For three days in a row, the mobilization registered hashtags as #TwitchApoiaRacista and #YouTubeApoiaRacista on Twitter trending topics.
Everything intensified when the first response from companies like Microsoft and Twitch started to publish notes of repudiation and solidarity with blacks, partly for the mobilization against the channel Mil Grau, partly for the demonstrations against racism around the world after the death of George Floyd. The publications came at a time when accusations against Mil Grau were piling up on social media.
“Twitch’s position was disappointing. They posted in favor of #BlackLivesMatter [traduzida no Brasil como “Vidas Negras Importam”], but did not ban racism from the platform itself “says Regis. “With YouTube it was much more difficult. I went looking for ways to report and I learned that, for the platform’s algorithm to understand reporting a report as urgent, we would need 20,000 reports.”
From there, Regis decided to put together a tutorial on how to report videos on YouTube, next to a dossier with several images and excerpts of videos with messages with hate speech. “They themselves published all of these streams of live streams on their YouTube channels”says the editor.
“I feel like I did what I could. I had the courage to fight these guys. I went there, and I had nothing to lose. A lot of people went after me, people who wanted to do something about it, but felt silent because of the feeling of that could be harassed, harassed. This is the modus operandi of this group [do Mil Grau]. “
Regis does not welcome the performance of companies where Mil Grau published its content. “It is hypocrisy. The wooden face is so huge that they are able to issue notes of repudiation, but are not able to deal with the matter directly”, triggers the editor. “They are some of the culprits on the part of people to confuse racism and hatred as freedom of speech.”
“How many years has Mil Grau been there? And what do these platforms do to protect communities [de minorias]? They repudiate [o discurso de ódio] publicly, but what do they do to protect these people? And to give visibility? None of these platforms are doing anything. At most, they are clapping “he asks.
Regis calls for blacks to continue to press for more actions in favor of representativeness. “Don’t clap your hands. Make demands so that platforms come out of speech. How do they turn speech into action? Are we far from getting something [a favor da representatividade dos negros] be done”, says.
Despite the success of the mobilization against the hate speech of the Mil Grau channel, Regis finds himself divided over the fight against racism and hate speech in the gaming community. “We know that the world of games is extremely problematic. The only chance to start, at an ant’s pace, to change, is first: that the platforms are clear and turn the speech into action. That they deal directly with this type of subject. If a channel like Xbox Mil Grau says something about [de ódio e preconceito], that they directly take action “, enumerates.
“Secondly: people need to be more vocal, especially influencers. I was followed by people with one, two million followers. If there is a limit to everything, influencers need to be the first to mobilize people.”
“Finally, I ask the people to educate themselves about prejudice. It is an individual responsibility. Do not put the burden on homosexuals, blacks and others the burden of drawing a line, a limit. The responsibility is yours”, concludes.
The Enemy contacted the Xbox Mil Grau channel by email, but did not receive a response until the publication of this interview.
On social networks, the group published a statement, signed by the creator of the channel, Christoph Schlafner, the Chief, in which he says that “XMG has never committed acts of racism or discrimination”.
The text also says that the channel is recommended for people over 18 and that it “jokes and jokes known as ‘black humor'”. After the repercussion, the statement was deleted from the Mil Grau account on Twitter, as well as all other posts on the network.
See the full statement:
Through its press office, YouTube shared its policy regarding the prohibition of hate speech and initiatives in favor of diversity being developed in Brazil.
According to the YouTube community guidelines last updated, in June 2019, all content that promotes violence or hatred against people or groups based on different characteristics, such as ethnicity, gender identity and expression, race, sexual orientation, among others, will be removed. See more details.
Violations of YouTube’s policy are penalized with a system of three email warnings and notifications. First, the channel receives an alert, as it understands that the creator does not intend to violate the policies. At the first notice, the channel is blocked for a week from sending videos, stories, making live streams, creating thumbs up, posting on the community tab, creating or editing playlists.
If the channel receives a second notice, within the same 90-day period, it will not be able to post content for two weeks. If you receive three strikes in 90 days, the channel will be permanently removed.
Last week, YouTube Brazil has gathered videos from its creators who discuss the racial issue in Brazil in four playlists: “Understanding the racial issue in Brazil”, “How to talk to children about racial injustice”, “The Voice of the Creators” and “Protests against racial injustice”.
In addition, the platform will also hold lives, starting this Tuesday (9th), with black creators. The first live gathers Gabi Oliveira, the comedian Yuri Marçal and Felipe Neto. Finally, the platform will also broadcast the first Virtual Pride Parade LGBTQIA +, on June 14th.
The Enemy also sought out Twittter and Twitch, who also did not respond at the time of publication of this interview.