Days after making headlines for strongly advocating the banning of political ads from Facebook, US-based civil rights group Sleeping Giants has hit rocky waters after its co-founder and marketing industry advocate Nandini Jammi has decided to quit the global advocacy movement. The decision, however, is not because Jammi herself wanted to quit but instead was caused by the action of her founder Matt Rivitz.
In a tell-all blog post on Medium titled "How my white male co-founder gaslighted me out of the movement we built together", Jammi has revealed that the fallout between the duo was caused due to Rivitz's constant gaslighting and penchant for stealing her credit. In the post, Jammi revealed how she and Rivitz had started out as equals but in time, Rivitz, whom she referred to as a "white male", took over control and stopped treating her as an equal.
"I want to show you how a woman of color almost disappeared from the movement she built, and what you can achieve when you refuse to follow the rules your white male "leader" sets for you," Jammi wrote.
Rivitz and Jammi began Sleeping Giants in 2016 and have been running together since. The movement soon became viral across the globe and was directly responsible for the far-right US-based newspaper Breitbard in taking down nearly 4,000 political ads from its news website. But while the movement positioned itself as a counter to profitable sexism and bigotry that was freely peddled on social media as well as mainstream news, Rivitz allegedly managed to steal her credit and assume greater control of the movement, despite equal amounts of work put in by both.
In the blog, Jammi outlined how she and Rivitz seemed to have the same idea about getting advertisers to stop advertising on sites like Breitbart. Though it was Ritviz who contacted her for collaborating together, the duo started working together immediately and were equally responsible for the global success of the movement.
"I was working behind the scenes to identify which advertisers needed an extra push. I was creating actions for our Facebook community: first testing email addresses privately, then writing email templates for our followers to send. This became a core tactic that helped us move fast".
But though her relationship with Rivitz was "respectful" and "positive", Jammi wondered why he would ask her to send press interaction requests to him instead. It was only later that she realised that it was a ploy on part of Rivitz to keep her out of the limelight and assume control as the sole leader of the movement.
"When Matt and I came out in July 2018 on the front page of the business section of the New York Times, I believed it was as equal partners. It was through Matt’s subsequent media appearances I realized he considered me an optional part of the story," she wrote.
The expose came in the wake of several U.S. civil rights groups including Sleeping Giants called upon some of the world’s largest companies to pause advertising on Facebook Inc in July, saying the social network is not doing enough to stop hate speech on its platforms.
"He told me I could pick any title but co-founder because he was the founder. We agreed on the title "founding organizer." I had no problem with this. He was the leader, I would be the #2. I asked him to make me a Sleeping Giants email address, so I could look more official. (He didn’t). He asked me to continue sending all press requests to him. (I did)," Jammi wrote.
Jammi outlined how Rivitz continued to sideline her when it came to highlighting the work she had been doing. In fact, he did not even inform her that Sleeping Giants won an award at the Cannes.
"In June, I saw Matt posting from France on Instagram. "Are you in…Europe?" I asked. He said yes, I’m speaking at Cannes. Days later, he sent me a DM of him accepting a Cannes Gold Lion, the ad industry’s biggest award". A frustrated Jammi did the one thing she was not supposed to do - she spoke to the press.
After her interaction with the New York Times, Rivitz allegedly misbehaved with Jammi and said she was a "pain in the a**". When she asked him why he did not inform her about the Cannes award, Rivitz allegedly said that he did not owe her anything.
Hi, I'm the other half of Sleeping Giants. This is my story.https://t.co/FPPgyLTcMs
— Nandini Jammi (@nandoodles) July 9, 2020
In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Jammi said, "My life has revolved around Sleeping Giants for nearly four years now, and I had accepted that this movement was more important than whatever I’ve been going through". However, recent developments have forced the entrepreneur to call out Matt Ritviz.
Jammi shared the blog on her Twitter account, calling herself the "the other half of Sleeping Giants".
Clarifying to Buzzfeed News, Ritviz has said, "For better or worse, every organization needs a leader and that role in Sleeping Giants has belonged to me, regardless of title".