There's Just One Tiny Thing: Racist Behavior Plagues Area Surrounding CEO 2018's New Venue

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The Community Effort Orlando (CEO) tournament series is undoubtedly one of the best case studies for the ever-increasing strength and growth of the fighting game community (FGC). If that’s not clearly demonstrated through the sheer hype it generates on Twitch and Twitter each year, then the dramatic increase of entrants for each subsequent tourney should make it evident.

Player participation has increased so drastically (rising overall from around 350 in 2010 to over 7,300 this year) that Alex Jebailey, CEO’s founder, and the rest of the team moved this year’s venue from the 7-year-staple that was the Wyndham Orlando Resort (where it became so packed that the venue’s air conditioning started losing the battle against the blazing Florida heat) to the Ocean Center, a gorgeous, 200,000-square-foot venue in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Reception for the tournament’s new venue, as with the series itself, has generally been overwhelmingly positive. Unfortunately, however, there were a handful of factors that neither the CEO staff nor the entrants could control, which included racist behavior displayed by several Daytona locals.

Numerous attendees have testified to this in greater detail on Twitter.

San Diego’s Jose “Sway” Cervantes, a Mexican-American Super Smash Bros. Melee player with history in speedrunning, shared the following statement with us regarding the disrespectful speech he had to endure while riding with a local Uber driver:

I had called an Uber, and within seconds, (I must have just said ‘Hi, is this the Uber for Jose?’) he opened up by saying ‘Wow, you speak much better English that I thought a Jose would.’ and instantly I had a red flag go off.”

Sway’s story quickly became even less pleasant as his driver continued:

He then went on to talk about his war buddy, who was also named Jose, who knew very little English and went on a rant about that. [...] He was speaking really highly of his granddaughter and was super proud of how good of a runner she is. He then says something along the lines of ‘Our genes are so good she even beat all the Black girls in the 100-Meter.’ and at this point I was actually really bothered.

He had an American flag hat on and kept on ranting on the subject talking about their roots and how he always knew she would be a good athlete because of where their family comes from. This all happened in a short span of 8 minutes because I was housed really close to the venue.”

There were a number of other attendees who testified to experiencing a strong air of racial prejudice in that part of Daytona Beach as well. Echo Fox’s Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, who is renowned for being one of the most gifted Injustice 2 and Dragon Ball FighterZ players, tweeted the following out in regards to his experience roaming around the new location:


Jason “ANTi” Bates, CEO 2016 Champion for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, tweeted this out:


The momentum for these complaints doesn’t stop there. These tweets generated an abundance of replies from other entrants who attest to similar dissatisfaction and discomfort in Daytona.

Method Gaming’s Ryan “SylverRye” Amaechi also spoke about his own mistreatment and compiled the statements of several others, which generated a lot of feedback.

After SonicFox’s statement on the matter, Alex Jebailey himself responded:


Jebailey then spoke more on the venue’s initial selection and how seriously he is taking these claims:


Jebailey’s earned himself a great deal of respect within the FGC for his work on CEO. For example, Sway closed out our conversation with a sentiment that many members of the community seem to share:

CEO overall was an amazing event and I commend Jebailey for all his efforts and the like. He addressed the city’s problems pretty rapidly and I have the utmost respect for him as an organizer. [...] For one thing, I can say that I am extremely happy that he acknowledges these problems and doesn't brush them under the rug. It takes a true leader to do that and it gives me a lot of faith in the event moving forward!

One thing is for certain: we at Smashboards will be keeping an eye on the evolution of CEO from this point forward, and we sincerely hope that Jebailey is successful in his efforts to improve this situation for his attendees.

(As of now, SonicFox, ANTi, and Alex Jebailey have been unavailable for direct comment.)
 
Lord Cownostril III

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#2
Hopefully that Uber driver reads this article so he can learn how he ruined the entire event for everybody.
 
#5
You have trump and his cult followers to thank for alot of this, and It’s only gonna get worse before it gets better sadly.
 
#8
I dunno... I'd personally take "You speak much better English than a Jose would" as a compliment, but I'm not in their shoes so it's probably not fair for me to say. Likewise, "being able to run so fast you can win against a black person," wouldn't that subtly imply most blacks are great runners? I can see the racism in that, since it expects blacks to be better runners than anything else (I guess), but in all honesty that's super tame compare to what I've seen -- but the one thing I can't see any racism in is the American flag hat. That's pride for your country, anyone would've worn that. Most people would've straight up said... "that" word and wear MAGA hats.
Regardless, as an ex-Floridian, yeah the regular people there state-wide (at least from what I've seen) can be pretty racist. Murders and crimes happen there a metric crapton too. I've always said it was the Florida heat that makes everyone go crazy lol. In my eyes, the best way to make everyone comfy is to put venues in areas where racism just isn't common, especially in bigger cities or colder climates.
 
#10
Hopefully that Uber driver reads this article so he can learn how he ruined the entire event for everybody.
I know some people are going to meme because controversy article, and, as the Content Manager of the news team, I'm used to it. There were definitely more reports of the environment being unsettling. It can be very unsettling to be in a surrounding where it's possible for some crazy person with a gun to shoot you. Not likely, just possible.

Plus, it's not really up to Smashboards or not to decide whether this is a non-issue b/c the actual venue owner himself is already scheduling a meeting to ensure any and all CEO attendee's safety.

edit: also PhantomShab, apologies if you weren't being sarcastic; I just figured I would point this out.
 
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#13
Maybe this is worth being brought up in the Debate Hall :x

Race is an extremely personal issue and ones definition of it is entirely based on their own upbringing and circumstances. My issues with race and racism is also personal and therefore I draw my opinion from that. My family is entirely white and we lived in mostly upper class white neighborhoods in white suburbia. My sister and cousins all married white people. They say they experience racism as white people (which I do agree with to an extent but not at the genocidal levels my father claims is going on). I’m the only one who A) lives outside of Ohio...and America and B) Married outside my race.

I moved to Japan where I actually experienced legit straight-up racism as a white person. Barred from certain establishments, reduced to being Mr. White Guy, and the token foreign friend to increase ones social status. I ended up marrying a Japanese woman and together we have a half white, half Japanese daughter. So to me, race is a very sensitive issue that I take very strongly and any sort of racism, to me, is vile - even in joking form.

I was FaceTiming my whole family for Easter when my cousin’s children said my daughter “looks weird” and “her name is weird”. I was shocked and surprised my cousin’s made no attempt to correct them. I was offended not by the children but by my cousin’s lack of understanding. So suddenly I am special snowflake for letting it offend me? That’s just plain stupid. I brought up the issue to them and they just said I was being too sensitive and “they are just children”. Isn’t it better to teach them now that saying someone looks weird because the color of their skin or shape of their eyes is rude and bad when they are still young?

So yeah, you call my wife or daughter a J** or C**** (which has happened before) and I will take issue with it; even if it’s meant as a joke. Cause it’s not a joking matter. In addition, regardless of who it is or who they are, racism is never funny, cool, or ok. It might not be important to you, but it’s important to others and a deeply personal issue. Either respect that or just shut up.


I’ll get off my soapbox now. Hopefully they figure this issue out because it’s not an issue of hurt feelings but an actual issue of personal security and safety.[/spoiler]
 
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#14
Racism at any event is unwelcome.
I have been lucky to attend many concerts and tournaments where race wasn't a issue, however unless you live in an area and interact with people in your neighbor hood its hard to wean away social bias's, especially online. And while we can talk about it all day online and while its good to bring the subject to light that can truly only do so much unless you yourself go out to the communities and try to be the best person you can be. And yes that is very hard, a lot of times unrewarding, and makes you doubt the human factor sometimes.

Race and the genetic material that we are made up of is by nature a sensitive issue. So that's why for me I try to separate humor and ignorance with the actual malice, however this is my practice and this should by no mean apply to everyone. We are all different individuals at the end of the day.

I think the real question is as members of a community would you avoid going to an certain event if you thought the area it was located in would hold prejudices against you or was infact harmful to your well being? I mean you can try to be the "bigger" person and attend an event despite how you feel about the local populace but what if you feel you have legitimate concerns?

Its not something that can be answered in a thread like this really but something you as a person need to decide for yourself. We all have prejudices (or lack there of) and experiences that shape us, and there is actual nothing morally wrong with that. Its the actions that we take and how we handle them at the end of the day that really matters.
 
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#15
This is a fault of choosing uber more than anything. If you want any sort of respectable behaviour from people, it starts by not sorting by price lowest-highest and then selecting the lowest one, then complaining about your service.

Uber is a disgrace of a company. Don't forget the rampant sexism forced their own CEO to resign and the company treats its workers like absolute ****.
 
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#17
You have trump and his cult followers to thank for alot of this,
Not likely.

I don't live directly in Milwaukee but given situations like this I'd more so be willing to bet it’s just the location. I live pretty close to Milwaukee where hate crimes are in the top 10 worst in the country, Trump being president or not had nothing to do with it, it's a bad side of what is close to my home town. It's likely the same here where it is something more ingrain with the area.

With this situation, if he can reloate to avoid this he can which will help mitigate this issue. But if he can't, what can you do then? If they are locals doing it and not at the event, how do you change it? That's asking something I'm not sure the TO can do much about outside of relocating.
 
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#22
I went to CEO as well and it really was night and day between the venue and the area outside. The venue was truly accepting of everyone but within a block of the tournament was stores lined with confederate flag gear and shirts with homophobic taglines. Obviously that isn't to say all the locals were horrible. A lot of them were actually really excited to meet Smash players and asked us about what was happening, but nonetheless it is an issue worth addressing.
 
#23
Dear god, is there nothing that political issues will not seep into? Yes, racism is wrong no matter who's doing it or who it's against, but it's really disturbing how even simple things like fighting game tournaments are now being targeted for it. I hope that Uber driver sees this and realizes he's a terrible person, as well as ruining the entire event for everyone.
 
#24
No offense but I really don't see what this article is supposed to accomplish besides "don't go back to Daytona I guess". Literally the only person who elaborates on any supposed racism is the guy with his Uber driver story and I doubt the driver cares about Smash enough to be browsing these forums. This is way different from getting the word out about something like Smash tourney goers' notoriously poor hygiene since there's something those people can at least easily do about it. It's basically impossible to ensure that some random nameless people don't say things that make others uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong though, things like that really have no buisness being brought up at a video game tournament of all things.

You have trump and his cult followers to thank for alot of this, and It’s only gonna get worse before it gets better sadly.
People unironically believe this lol.
 
#26
No offense but I really don't see what this article is supposed to accomplish besides "don't go back to Daytona I guess".
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMKFU9ix7kQ - I used to use no offense until I realized how obnoxious is.

2. This article is supposed to inform people. It exists as an information piece; lots of stuff like this gets lost on Twitter dot com.

3. You keep claiming it's just the Uber driver but,
If you open this tweet, tons of people start coming out with their stories
(As of now, SonicFox, ANTi, and Alex Jebailey have been unavailable for direct comment.)
Also, SonicFox and ANTi, who were quoted in this article.
 
#30
What he is referring to is that it’s a bit vague on what happened with other people. Sonicfox and Anti there isn’t much being said on what happened with them and where. Maybe they did say more but I didn’t see it on twitter.

I think knowing what happened with both of them would be helpful at least for figuring out a solution if relocation is not an option. Even if it seems based on comments that area is bad when it comes to this acadotally.

No offense but I really don't see what this article is supposed to accomplish besides "don't go back to Daytona I guess". Literally the only person who elaborates on any supposed racism is the guy with his Uber driver story and I doubt the driver cares about Smash enough to be browsing these forums. This is way different from getting the word out about something like Smash tourney goers' notoriously poor hygiene since there's something those people can at least easily do about it. It's basically impossible to ensure that some random nameless people don't say things that make others uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong though, things like that really have no buisness being brought up at a video game tournament of all things.


People unironically believe this lol.
It is valid critism if people are not a fan of the location which the area around very much is a part of that since I imagine a tournament like CEO you do need to leave the venue at some point for a hotel and food. I don’t see an problem. with people having an issue with that’s

That will play a part in your experience at a tournament. Still there is the point with a multi year contact, what can you do? Can you change peoples minds? Not likely easily.
 
#31
I can totally understand the concerns. Reading the twitter threads about multiple people's bad experiences was quite upsetting. From what I've read, it would be extremely expensive to just relocate CEO next year as well.

Perhaps there are people that wouldn't be very bothered, but there are others that would be. It'd be a shame if things remained the same next year, resulting in people not attending. I've only ever went to one Smash tournament ever, and that was for Brawl. Everyone was quite nice. I'm considering trying again when Ultimate releases, but if you told me that a lot of attendees had awful experiences like these, I'd probably just stay home.

I enjoy playing Super Smash Bros., and it'd be nice to finally share that enjoyment with many other people in person, but not at that kind of expense. I've never dealt with a situation where a total stranger was openly racist to me in person, so I honestly have no clue how I'd react if someone called me a racial slur or threw ice at me.
 
#32
Seems like ignorance rather than racism imo, Uber story at least
As somebody who's grown up in Florida and experienced the non-touristy side of things, I can say firsthand that unless you've lived with it, you don't understand it. I may not be black but I'm bisexual and it's that constant background radiation of "At any moment somebody could give me trouble for something that's none of their damn business and not under my control."

It doesn't matter what their intent is. They could be ignorant, they could be outright hateful, or they could just think it's funny because they never have to fear any sort of societal pushback for what they say. The effect is always the same: It makes you feel like less of a human being and like you aren't safe in your own skin. Nobody should ever have to feel like that. Period.

tl;dr
Ignorance is no excuse for being horrible to other people.
 
#35
From a black man, words are just that - words. If that bothers you, wait until you deal with actual racism.
No, I said the only instance that ever got elaborated on was the Uber driver.
In retrospect, I do believe I could have emphasized on other stories that went beyond just hearing some unpleasant words. I just wasn't sure how to do so while retaining the flow of the article. I do want to encourage anyone reading this to click on the link to the tweet from SylverRye though if you haven't already. There's some more examples there of just how toxic some of the people there were. SylverRye himself had a cup of ice thrown at him, and a number of people in the thread testified to a whole bunch of other wild stuff.


Even with those examples though, they doesn't really undermine the importance of Sway's story. I think that at any level, whether its some ignorant words or something physical, racism is kind of a big deal and even if Sway's story doesn't send waves of shock per se, I think that it should send waves of concern at the very least.
 
#36
Ignorant people in Florida? This has never happened before!

Seriously, it’s like you can’t go a week without something like this taking place there. What is it about Florida that attracts the saddest excuses for humans?
 
#37
Is the level of racism something that greatly varies by area? I've lived in one place my whole life, so this is a genuine question for those that have witnessed a difference.
 
#38
Is the level of racism something that greatly varies by area? I've lived in one place my whole life, so this is a genuine question for those that have witnessed a difference.
Florida tends to get sketchier the further inland you go. Typically the coastal areas tend to be better, and you have pockets like Orlando that are very progressive. But even then Daytona and other such places are thankfully outliers. Like any place, when you've got areas full of people who never have to interact with anyone who isn't like them, you tend to get this kind of garbage.

Don't let it get you too down though, most areas of Florida are very nice to live in and very accepting.
 
#39
From a black man, words are just that - words. If that bothers you, wait until you deal with actual racism.
Except, uh, it is actual racism. And being black doesn't give you special authority on anything. And "Don't let it bother you, it's just words" is bafflingly ignorant. You think words don't have power? You think the Civil Rights Act was passed because a bunch of black people walked around indignantly while making mouth noise? Holy.

Read a book sometime.
 
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