Ohanian, who is married to tennis legend Serena Williams, explained that his daughter was one of the reasons why he decided to resign.
"I co-founded Reddit 15 years ago to help people find community and a sense of belonging. It is long overdue to do the right thing. I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country. I’m writing this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: 'What did you do?'" Ohanian wrote.
"I have resigned as a member of the reddit board, I have urged them to fill my seat with a black candidate, and I will use future gains on my Reddit stock to serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate, and I’m starting with a pledge of $1M to [Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp]. I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now. To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: do not stop," Ohanian added.
He shared a video of his announcement on Twitter, Instagram and his own website.
I've resigned as a member of the reddit board, I have urged them to fill my seat with a black candidate, + I will use future gains on my Reddit stock to serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate, and I’m starting with a pledge of $1M to @kaepernick7’s @yourrightscamp
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. ???? (@alexisohanian) June 5, 2020
Reddit faced internal and external backlash this week when CEO Steve Huffman wrote a letter saying the site does "not tolerate hate, racism, and violence, and while we have work to do to fight these on our platform, our values are clear."
Since it was founded by Ohanian, Huffman and Aaron Swartz in 2005, the site has been a hotbed for some of the internet's most abhorrent racism and sexism. The site has long faced criticism for its refusal to take down violent white supremacist subreddits and for fostering forums of hate speech.
One of the most infamous subreddits, r/The_Donald, had to be quarantined by the site in June 2019 because of the overabundance of hate speech, according to BBC. Reddit said it quarantined the subreddit because members were threatening "violence against police and public officials," during a situation in Oregon. Multiple people in the forum also wrote that they would shoot Democratic lawmakers in the state.
But, since President Donald Trump announced he was running for office, it has been one of Reddit's most active subreddits and has more than 750,000 subscribers, BBC reported. In 2017 the site was forced to ban r/altright and r/alternativeright because the groups repeatedly flouted the site's hate speech rules.
In a speech at SXSW in 2018, Huffman spoke openly about the r/The_Donald subreddit.
"It's crass and offensive and that is part of their identity. [But] there's a difference between conflicting with our values and conflicting with our content policy."
After Huffman's letter to employees was released on June 1, the outspoken former CEO of Reddit, Ellen Pao, blasted the statement online.
"I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don't get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long," Pao wrote on Twitter. She worked as interim CEO of Reddit from November 2014 to July 2015, Business Insider reported.
I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don't get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long https://t.co/VN5XCiYp5g
— Ellen K. Pao (@ekp) June 2, 2020
Part of why Pao left the company was her now-infamous battle to try to address revenge porn and harmful subreddits on the site.
"Racism is an intrusion of cockroaches living in the walls of Reddit. You may see one skittering across the floor, or racing away after you disturb its hiding spot, but that’s only one of the greater den this website harbors. Over years of inaction, this website has continued to allow anti-ethnic sentiments and communities to fester, tucked away in their own safe spaces, venturing out to provoke, incense and recruit. [Huffman] speaks against racism but every minute provides it a home on Reddit," the r/NFL subreddit's moderators wrote.
"[Huffman] claims 'the best defense against racism and other repugnant views, both on Reddit and in the world, is instead of trying to control what people can and cannot say through rules, is to repudiate these views in a free conversation, and empower our communities to do so on Reddit.' These communities are not empowered. The website is failing in its promise," they added.
On Twitter, Williams commended Ohanian for his decision to resign.
"Having diverse views on any boards is important. So proud of you Alexis. I know Olympia will be too," she said.
Having diverse views on any boards is important. So proud of you Alexis. I know Olympia will be too https://t.co/kVUaJZoe7v
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) June 5, 2020
TechCrunch reported that Ohanian's company stock could amount to around $50 million.