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Teotihuacan publisher cuts ties with designer over “racist remarks” and ‘failed’ apology

Tzolk’in co-creator Daniele Tascini faces criticism from the community, as well.

Polish publisher Board&Dice released an official statement on January 16th condemning the “racist remarks” and sentiments of Daniele Tascini, an Italian board game designer who reportedly used a racist slur during a Facebook conversation about fantasy orcs and skin colour.

The statement announced Board&Dice has suspended any ongoing work with Tascini, which ostensibly includes games currently under consideration, along with any future projects he might submit for publication. The company admitted that it is contractually obligated to support any board games previously released in collaboration with Tascini, such as dice-placement title Teotihuacan: City of Gods. Outside of Board&Dice, Tascini has co-designed titles including Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, The Voyages of Marco Polo and Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula.

“We unequivocally condemn all aspects and acts of racism, intended or not, including comments, epithets, slurs, jokes, or other language which is considered hateful, inappropriate, or unwanted by the group of people such words are referring to,” the publisher’s statement read.

The conversation in question seems to have taken place on Facebook, where Tascini was discussing the skin colour of orcs and how their depiction and nature often reflects a racial stereotype of Black people. He and another Italian board game designer, Martino Chiacchiera, recently spoke about inclusivity and representation for an article in Fustella Rotante. Tascini remarked on the duality of good and evil in fantasy properties, saying black thematically denotes something as evil but failed to see how that applied to skin colour in the real world.

“Trying to attach that to the skin color of africans WHICH IS NOT BLACK FOR FUCK SAKE!!! [sic],” read a translation of his Facebook comment. “I have many friends African and not, and I generally don’t address them by gender or race, and why would I?”

Tascini then said that he “jokingly” uses a racist slur “sometimes between us”, while claiming his friends are not offended by its use because of a different context in the Italian language. Since Board&Dice’s statement went live, dozens of commenters on social media have pointed out that the slur absolutely means the same in Italian that it does in English, and its usage is just as reprehensible.

My name is Daniele Tascini and I am deeply ashamed of what happened earlier today. I was especially shocked to see how...

Posted by Daniele Tascini on Saturday, January 16, 2021

The designer apologised later the same day via a post to his Facebook page. He claimed shock by the reaction to his word choice and blamed a translation from Italian to English for losing the original meaning of the post. He did not elucidate what that original meaning might have been.

“I was especially shocked to see how my words read in English, after taken from a totally different contest and being translated from Italian,” he wrote. “I really apologize to everyone who has been hurt by my words. Expecially because they originally meant the total opposite of what they appear to be [sic].”

In its official statement, Board&Dice addressed the apology and found it wanting.

“When called upon to make a statement and a strong apology, Mr. Tascini failed to acknowledge his wrongdoing, being primarily concerned with providing context to his racist remarks,” it said. “Words matter, but actions matter more.”

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