charity Children's Miracle Network Extra Life Self Reflection social issues

CMN and the Small Group of People

Hello, Marcus Summers here!

For those who don’t know, I’m a husband, father, and Black man. I’m also an Extra Lifer. I’ve been doing Extra Life for over 10 years. For those who don’t know, Extra Life is a gaming charitable organization that is a part of the Children’s Miracle Network.

I work with Extra Life on a lot of things. I am the Raleigh-Durham guild president where I work with my local hospital, Duke Children’s Hospital, and our local community to engage them in signing up and participating in Extra Life and help raise funds for Duke Children’s.

I am a moderator for the national Discord server. 

Back when Extra Life had a stream team, I was not only a member, but a team lead and then admin for that team and was one of a few responsible for the smooth operation of that team. I was also a streamer for Extra Life during their new iteration of community streaming known as the Community Play Hosts.

Over the 10 years I have participated with Extra Life, I have raised over $10,000 with the help of my family, friends, and community for Duke Children’s Hospital.

My son was a patient of Duke Children’s when he was born.

To say that I am a huge supporter of Extra Life I feel would be an understatement.

However, this isn’t about who I am or what I’ve done. This is about who I’m not and what I won’t do.

Over the past few days, I have said things directed towards Extra Life and Children’s Miracle Network when it comes to their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. This all stemmed from what they consider to be miscommunications over asking various marginalized groups to come up with panels for their annual Extra Life United tournament.

The group that I work with, Re:Collective, took our time looking at some of the things we could do. As our group has members in multiple marginalized spaces, we felt that we could provide a great panel given our intersectionality.

We did not do this immediately, we took the time and asked what work had been done prior to the request. I, personally, took a call with a CMN employee to bring up the concerns of our group. We were informed that no work had been done up to that point. We viewed this as a red flag, but decided to keep working anyway as we wanted to take the time to have an open and honest discussion as to what can be done to help marginalized communities succeed in these spaces.

We had submitted the panel to CMN on March 12th, 2021, and the responses back were…wanting.

But we waited hoping to hear anything from CMN on the status of the panel proposal and what our next steps needed to be so we could further plan out the event.

Then, on April 20th, 2021, 3 days before the ELU panels, I asked what the status was where I was informed that they were going in another direction. I asked if this was announced anywhere because people were waiting to hear back. They said no.

When confronted about the lack of heads up in regards to the panels and other issues stemming from a lack of communication, the CMN staff folded, started talking about “internal stakeholders” and told us to forward communication elsewhere.

While we (Re:Collective) were planning next steps, later that night, Extra Life and CMN released a statement in response to the verdict of Derek Chauvin. So, in one day, they silenced voices in the BIPOC community while simultaneously trying to show support for that same community on their terms.

The next day, they released the panel schedule for all to see, two days before they were to happen. It was then when we found out how much time was actually taken up by panels. According to the schedule, there was plenty of time to have the panel that we had wanted to give.

That was it for me.

I had initially started tweeting in response to the schedule when it was pointed out that another tweet had been made a couple of hours later.

This tweet was to mention that a separate DE&I session was happening in Discord. A Discord call that can’t be recorded where no one can see what was said after the fact or could use to hold them accountable for changes they say they are going to make.

After mentioning those concerns on both Twitter and within the Discord server, I received an email from CMN wanting to talk to me. I looped in more of Re:Collective and we scheduled a call for Friday morning.

Unfortunately, I had something else scheduled which kept me from talking while on the call, so I joined and contributed via Zoom chat.

The call began with CMN patting themselves on the back for the things that they have said they’ve done with no evidence of it actually being done. I tried what I could to voice my thoughts on what could be done, especially with the upcoming Discord call during ELU.

It was at this point where things took a turn. Towards the end of the call, one of the CMN staff decided they wanted to call me out because I kept asking for recorded conversations so more people can see what’s being said and have a method of keeping folks accountable. They mentioned that I was accusing them of not being truthful and attacking their integrity.

I want to say this right now:

I was, in no way, attacking anyone’s integrity. If discussing methods to keep someone accountable is attacking a person’s integrity, I feel there are deeper issues at play here.

For an organization that tweeted in support of the guilty verdict of a cop who murdered an unarmed man and would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for someone recording it, you seem very averse to having the same level of accountability applied to you.

You ask for trust, but when words have been twisted, nothing is being communicated, and the simple fact that, of your own admission, things were “miscommunicated”, I feel that at this point, we need something that sets the record straight from the absolute beginning.

The simple thought that you are denying to give a receipt means you have something to hide.

These discussions were not meant to be personal, but personally attacking me when it was not being done to you, changed all of this. You made this about you when it was supposed to be about the community.

To be clear, I’m still here for the community, but you definitely have my attention now!

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