Former Philadelphia 76ers dancer Yahne Coleman has come forth with allegations that she was a victim of racism and bullying from her teammates during her career with the organization. Coleman also claimed that she reached out to management but was ignored.
The 28-year-old first went public with her claims after singer Trey Songz shared a video and a personal account of the abuse from Coleman with her permission. The footage shows Anne Weiss, a former captain of the dance team who left the organization in 2013, in a limo with several other people threatening and verbally abusing Coleman. During the clip, Weiss was heard saying, “I will find you in whatever home project you live in, I will slum it to the west side of Philly just to find your ass, beat the sh-t out of it and then get you blacklisted from whatever club you think you can get into.”
The video was supposedly sent to Coleman later, as she was not in the limo at the time. Coleman also claimed that other members of the Sixers dance team were in the vehicle at the time, including the dance team coach Dayna Hafetz and the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers dance team.
Coleman was with the team for a three-year period that ended in 2015. She maintained that fellow dancers and at least one former Sixers dancer would “make fun my pictures in a group chat, talking about my black features and send me videos threatening my safety.”
The dancer later reposted the account on her own Instagram detailing the bullying and racism she endured from fellow dancers which included derogatory videos and threatening phone calls. Coleman also called out Hafetz and the teams’ chief operating officer Lara Price after she says they ignored her complaints of harassment.
“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 ever done,” Coleman began her statement.
She continued, “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.”
Coleman went on to explain that the harassment didn’t stop after her time with the team was over. She claimed that the women involved went as far as to find out where she worked and call her employer in an attempt to get her fired.
A screenshot of Coleman’s email to Price was posted on Instagram. In the email sent September 2016, Price promised that human resources and the legal department would reach out after the Labor Day holiday, but Coleman said that never happened.
On Tuesday, June 30, the Sixers released a statement 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 statement read. “We take this situation very seriously. We intend to investigate this matter immediately and remain committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and equality.”
The following day Weiss posted an apology to her business Instagram saying she “should have never said those things to Yahne, and regret being someone responsible for making her feel like she was less worthy of respect than anyone else.”