Abiola Oke: Okayplayer CEO Resigns Over Accusations Made by Women

Abiola Oke

Twitter Abiola Oke

On June 24, Okayplayer and OkayAfrica announced that they were cutting ties with CEO and publisher Abiola Oke. The organizations indicated that they had accepted Oke’s resignation. The move comes after many women who worked for Okayplayer and OkayAfrica posted an open letter about their negative experiences at the company in the last five years.

Okayplayer is described on its website as a “progressive music site” and community while OkayAfrica is its network focused on Africa’s New Wave. Okayplayer’s mission statement is to “defining and amplifying the voices of creators, contemporaries, and the people they inspire.”

The company’s statement about Oke was posted to Twitter and is available below:

It reads in part: “We take the allegations that have surfaced very seriously, and we stand with the brave women who came forward. We have begun the process of engaging an outside advisor to review and investigate our current and past policies and practices. We’re committed to creating a work environment that’s inclusive and respectful for all.”

A Group of Women Detailed Their Experiences Working at the Company, Including Inappropriate Behavior & Below Market Salaries

On June 23, a group of women who worked at Okayplayer and OkayAfrica posted an open letter detailing the experiences they had working for the organization. The letter was shared on Ivie Ani’s Twitter account:

The letter reads in part: “From 2015 to 2020, several Black Women working across Okayplayer and OkayAfrica were subject to a lack of support and resources, below market salaries, inadequate leadership, targeting and sabotage, slander, verbal abuse, inappropriate behavior, gaslighting, lack of empathy, manipulation, rationalizing poor or unethical conduct and wrongful termination.”

It explains that they decided to come forward to “hold our own accountable” and stand up for Black women, especially in light of the current conversations taking place in the Black community. They highlighted that their goal in writing the letter was for Oke to step down or be removed as the company’s CEO. The letter was signed by Antoinette, Hanan, Ivie, Olabisi, Oyinkan, Sinat and Winnie.

Questlove, One of the Company’s Founders, Also Spoke Up in Support of the Open Letter

Okayplayer was founded in 1988 by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Angela “Stress” Nissel. On June 24, Questlove also took to social media to support the women’s message and Oke’s removal. He shared the company’s statement but added as the caption: “More announcements coming up. This was long overdue.”

Many others took to social media to share their thoughts on the women’s open letter and the news of Oke’s removal as CEO. One Twitter user wrote: “Watching people demand we support for black businesses and companies as an ‘anti-racist measure’ while simultaneously reading these awful awful threads from black women who’ve worked with/for OkayAfrica + OkayPlayer feels pretty damning.”

Another said, “Black media companies have contributed to this toxic industry environment by internalizing and perpetuating the structures of media companies anchored by the same white supremacist, sexist, misogynist, classist, structures that our society is tethered to. I’ve witnessed it.”

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