Former Philadelphia 76ers dancer Yahne Coleman has gone public with some concerning allegations about the Sixers dance team and upper management.
Coleman, who was with the Sixers for a three-year stint that ended in 2015, is alleging that she was “bullied and racially targeted” by her fellow dancers and at least one former Sixers dancer while she was with the team. She has also called out the dance team coach Dayna Hafetz and the team’s chief operating officer Lara Price for failing to help her when she brought the abuse to their attention.
The allegations first surfaced in an Instagram post from R&B artist Trey Songz, who posted a video and a personal account of the abuse from Coleman with her permission. The video allegedly shows Annie Weiss, a former captain of the dance team who was with the Sixers from 2006-2013, threatening, berating, and verbally abusing Coleman while in the back of a limousine. The video was purportedly sent to Coleman later as she was not in the limo at the time. (Warning: Video contains extremely NSFW language)
Coleman alleges that other members of the Sixers dance team were also in the limo, as well as the dance team coach and the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers ice team.
Coleman’s personal account of the abuse, which she later reposted on her own Instagram, details allegations of bullying and racism from her fellow dancers, including derogatory videos, threatening phone calls, and calls to her boss to try and get her fired.
I was scared to release this because I was bullied and racially targeted by my 76ers NBA teammates at the time. I went to my coach Dayna and the Sixers organization crying out for help so many times and nothing was every 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 didn’t 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 the 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. It took a lot for me to release this. I would hate for this group of women who are still connected to the Sixers organization to hurt another young talented Black girl.
Coleman wrote that she went to her coach Dayna Hafetz, director Debbie Apalucci, Sixers COO Lara Price and others for help with the abuse, but they did nothing. Songz’s post includes a screenshot of an email Price sent to Coleman in Sept. 2016, promising that human resources and the legal department would reach out to her after the Labor Day holiday. According to Coleman, she never heard from them.
The Sixers released a statement Tuesday night, promising to investigate the allegations immediately.
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.
On Wednesday, Weiss posted an apology to her business Instagram, saying she “should never have said those things to Yahne, and regret being someone responsible for making her feel like she was less worthy of respect than anyone else.”
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