Wizards of the Coast accused of pervasive ongoing racism by Zaiem Beg, Lawrence Harmon

Wizards of the Coast, like many other companies, made statements of solidarity to fight against racial injustice in the wake of protests after George Floyd was killed by police brutality. Zaiem Beg, a prominent member of the Seattle Magic: The Gathering community and contributor to multiple Magic websites including ChannelFireball and TCGplayer.com, has a different experience with the company. In a document titled “The Wizards I Know,” Beg depicts a workplace that discourages speaking out and at times actively works against diversifying its workforce.

In the letter to the Magic community, Beg makes multiple claims against Wizards of intentionally passing over black and people of color in favor of white applicants during hiring. Contract workers of color are reportedly held to different standards than their white coworkers and are passed over when full-time positions become available. The number of black artists Wizards employs is allegedly somewhere between one and four, depending on whom you talk to. 

Beg also describes an instance where, in the India-inspired set Kaladesh, developers printed Consulate Dreadnought, a creature with 7 power and 11 toughness. Beg calls out head designer at Wizards Mark Rosewater as he “joked in a column about putting the word ‘convenience’ in the flavor text if only there was room on the card for such delightful racisms,” drawing a connection between 7-Eleven convenience stories and the racist stereotype that Indians must work at such locations.

Wizards of the Coast is falling short on its promises

While the situations presented are largely anecdotal, Beg claims they are because of the culture that Wizards of the Coast has created. If anyone steps out of line, Wizards will retaliate in one way or another. This applies to everyone, from people employed at Wizards of the Coast to members of the community. Beg references Helene Bergeot, former director of Global Organized Play, who described a situation of being reprimanded for making a trivial comment on Facebook.

Beg isn’t alone in his views on Wizards of the Coast’s culture. Another black Magic player, Lawrence Harmon, wrote a similar letter detailing (among other things) how pro Magic player Greg Orange was passed over for a Pro Tour 25 invite in 2019 despite being a top-ranked player. Other prominent members of the Magic: The Gathering community have been sharing Beg’s letter and looking for answers from Wizards. Content creators like The Professor, Wedge, former WoTC staff Alexis Janson, and Brian David-Marshall all have joined Beg in support, with Janson corroborating the system of fear to speak out that Beg describes.

The letter should be read in its entirety. Beg is not alone in his experience with the Magic community. The letter ends with a powerful response to Wizards of the Coast’s public displays of support:

You can print all the Teferis and Saheelis and Chandras you want, but it doesn’t make you racially inclusive when the people profiting off it all are almost exclusively white. And people of color can’t get in on it even when they try.

That’s not inclusive; it’s (exploitative).

That’s the Wizards I know.

Ryan Hay
Ryan Hay is a writer and content creator currently living in New York. Video games, anime, and Magic: The Gathering have all been strong passions in his life and being able to share those passions with others is his motivation for writing. You can find him @TheRyanHay on Twitter where he complains about losing on MTG Arena a lot.

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