Fortnite players took on a different kind of mission on Saturday morning.
Instead of water skiing via a fishing pole attached to a shark or battling against monster hordes, players were challenged to think about systemic racism in a series of conversations dubbed “We the People.” Van Jones, a CNN political commentator spoke with former editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth and The Atlantic writer Jemele Hill. Hill then took over and interviewed rapper Killer Mike, whose speech at a May 29 press conference in Atlanta at the beginning of the George Floyd protests went viral.
Cat Herrera, a 29-year-old mother who plays Fortnite every day, says she tuned into “We the People” because she was called the N-word by another player recently.
“It’s a regular thing that happens in the game but this particular day I got fed up and I tweeted it out and a screenshot of their name,” Herrera wrote in a DM on Twitter. Herrera is Black and says when she’s not called a derogatory term for being Black, she is attacked for being Mexican while on Fortnite.
What’s with people….. random squad fills…Safe behind their username and their platform. The Nick guy, and the Rek guy called me the N word the entire match…. I’m tired of reporting and blocking people for communication abuse. Ban the word. @FortniteGame @FortniteStatus pic.twitter.com/lYUHOVkj22
— Cat (@catherrera11) June 29, 2020
But she says these verbal racist assaults are not Fortnite developer Epic Games’ fault and acknowledges they likely happen on every video game. She’s happy Fortnite is stepping up to address racism, though.
“Fortnite [is] taking a stance to face it head on, [it] is important for all players no matter the color. The message it sends is powerful. If you love playing Fortnite, Fortnite loves all people and [has] no tolerance for racism or hate speech,” Herrera wrote.
Killer Mike’s comments on “We the People” touched Herrera deeply.
“He expressed how important it is to not look past race and ethnicity but to [look] at it directly and love it and learn from it without wanting to co-opt or be it,” explained Herrera.
Despite a slew of negative comments on Fortnite‘s Twitter account about the event, Herrera thinks it will help kids who play (the video game’s audience is young) learn about racism “before they become part of the problem.”
You can watch the whole conversation below. It will also “re-air multiple times — every other hour for 24 hours — through the day on Saturday, July 4,” according to Fortnite.