Alexis Ohanian Says He Stepped Down from Reddit Board to Help 'Make a Better World' for Daughter Olympia
"I wanted to put as much weight behind the gesture as I could because I felt I owed it to you and I owed it to her," Alexis Ohanian said to wife Serena Williams about their daughter Alexis Olympia
Alexis Ohanian is committed to helping make the world a better place for all, including his daughter Alexis Olympia.
One day after the Reddit co-founder and executive chairman, 37, announced his resignation from the company's board, encouraging his colleagues to hire a black candidate to replace him, he sat down with wife Serena Williams to have an in-depth discussion about what motivated him to take a stand.
“This was not an easy decision at all,” Ohanian said at the start of their conversation, explaining that the choice was made “upon reflecting on the state of where our country is right now” and how he could most effectively help move things forward.
“I thought about what I could do beyond a social media post, beyond a donation,” he continued, noting that while it may seem “counterintuitive,” he felt that the best way he could lead by example was by resigning from the board.
“We need diversity at the highest levels of business now more than ever,” Ohanian explained. “Once I realized why I needed to do it, it became very easy.”
In addition to stepping down from the board, Ohanian also announced he would be donating future gains from his Reddit stock to help the black community — starting with a $1 million pledge to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp nonprofit.
Asking her husband why he decided to step down, Williams, 38, stressed that he was the one to make the decision. “A lot of people might think I told you to do something, or I forced you — ” she said, as her husband laughed. “He doesn’t listen to me, ever.”
“I thought about what those dollars could do for a community that has clearly suffered for far too long, and that I with my power and my influence and my privilege want to do something meaningful to start to show a change. To make a better world for Olympia,” Ohanian said, referencing their 2½-year-old daughter.
Ohanian went on to explain that when his daughter grows up, he wanted to be able to answer her questions about what he’s done to fight against racial injustice “with the clearest conscience.”
“I wanted to put as much weight behind the gesture as I could because I felt I owed it to you and I owed it to her,” he said.
“One of the things that really broke me at some point in the last week, I was looking at Olympia, she’s 2½ now, and she is such a pure, just blank canvas,” he continued. “She only knows love. There is not an ounce of hate in her body.”
“That’s the crushing thing. At some point, Olympia is going to have to have a talk with you, a talk with us, but especially a talk with you, about how she’s going to have to work that much harder, how she’s going to have to deal with this much more, that pisses me off,” he told Williams.
Through his own emotions, Ohanian was also afforded a deeper perspective at the pain the black community has felt for years. “I’m sitting here like, if I’m this pissed off just now, how have you been able to endure your entire life?” he asked his wife. “How have generations of black Americans been able to endure your entire life? Because If I’m just getting this mad right now, I wouldn’t be able to function.”
“It’s hard. It is definitely not easy,” the tennis star replied. “It’s something that unfortunately has become normal for us.”
Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp is a legal defense initiative that aims to “raise awareness on higher education, self-empowerment, and [provide] instructions on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios,” according to the athlete’s website.
It’s recently expanded to provide legal assistance to protestors fighting against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis, Kaepernick said, and has also been working to file civil rights cases against police
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.