Leveraging his unfathomable hoard of wealth, Elon Musk has positioned himself in the public mind as a “clown, genius, edgelord, visionary, industrialist, showman, cad,” at least that’s what Time Magazine described him as last year when he was awarded Person of 2021.
Elon Musk purchasing 9.2% of Twitter, making him now the company’s largest shareholder (for reference, Twitter’s Founder Jack Dorsey only owns 2.25%) is not only terrifying but also poses a grave danger to anyone who is not a fan of white supremacist oligarchs gaining increased control over the flows of information.
In addition to the apartheid-era work conditions he has produced and silently endorsed in his factories (which will be documented shortly below), it is also well-known that Musk’s most fervent supporters are largely composed of young predominantly right-wing white men. Such a personality makes sense considering his audience has a great deal of crossover with Trump’s. For example, a POLITICO headline last year read “Trump and Musk unite over Twitter, the moon and sticking it to the establishment.”
If we were outraged and appalled when Jeff Bezos bought out The Washington Post, we should be increasingly so now that Musk (who has now surpassed Bezos as richest person in the world) owns perhaps the most influential platform that shapes public opinion in real-time in the United States. Musk, like Trump, has become infamous for weaponizing his Twitter platform to launch attacks against anyone who speaks against him. We would be fools to believe he will not attempt to exert his newfound power to achieve his own political, white supremacist, capitalist aims.
Now let’s return to his viciously racist and violent factory conditions he has been consistently in lawsuits for, and which he has allowed to continue for nearly a decade. His factories are often described as “apartheid-era,” which makes sense, considering he grew up in a whites-only area of apartheid South Africa, and attended Pretoria Boys High School, a whites-only school founded by an extremely racist colonial administrator.
In a lawsuit launched earlier this year by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), they document numerous examples of the “rampant racism” that the company either ignored or silently endorsed for years.
Here is one disgustingly horrific anecdote recalled in the lawsuit;
Because the factory was racially segregated, Defendants’ workers referred to the areas where many Black and/or African Americans worked as the “porch monkey station.” Defendants’ workers with tattoos of the Confederate flag made their racially incendiary tattoos visible to intimidate Black and/or African American workers. Racial slurs were also dispensed in Spanish and included “mayate” and “negrita.” Additionally, Defendants’ workers referred to the Tesla factory as the “slaveship” or “the plantation,” where Defendants’ production leads “crack[ed] the whip.” Many Black and/or African American workers understood these terms to be references to how Defendants treated its Black and/or African American workers. One Black worker heard these racial slurs as often as 50-100 times a day.
Has Elon ever responded to these documented complaints of workplace terrorism and white supremacy? Has he tried to improve the culture or even taken any responsibility at all?
One of the only instances of Musk directly addressing the despicable conditions he has produced in his factories, is from a 2017 email he sent to employees related to a class-action lawsuit that had formerly been launched at the same Fremont factory. He told them that anyone who said an “unintentional slur” should say sorry, and that anyone who was the victim of it should “be thick-skinned and accept the apology.”
Is this the man we want to have control over the most influential real-time social network in the country?