- Karim Molyneux-Berry endured racist jokes and harassment from colleagues while working at the Berlin club.
A former PR manager at Salon Zur Wilden Renate has recounted experiences of racism at the Berlin club, where he worked until last November.
Karim Molyneux-Berry, who is half English and half Egyptian, described colleagues, in particular the DJ duo Jan Kähler (Peak) and Bene Bogenberger (Swift), using racist slurs and continuously referring to his African heritage. "Despite making repeated requests for Jan and Bene to stop," he said, "the abuse only became more intense and public." (Kähler and Bogenberger have both parted ways with Renate since.)
"It started with being told I'm from Africa, even though I was born and raised in London England, and my mother is Egyptian making me half Egyptian," Molyneux-Berry wrote in a June 2019 email to Tony Ettelt and Linda Osman, Renate's general manager and HR coordinator at the time. "It then became more. I asked for it to stop a few times. Then it got more. I [was] called N***** a few times. I was even told 'I'm your master and you're my n*****. I was asked to call him my master. I did. I'm not sure if at this point I realised how bad it is what was happening. It got to the point where he called me that In front of people."
Kähler made the "master" remark at Melt! Festival in 2019. Resident Advisor has seen a text message from June of this year in which Molyneux-Berry reminded Kähler of the incident the night before a Black Lives Matter protest in Berlin. Kähler's reply is as follows:
"Seriously Karim? I gave you my deepest apologies about this and I tried to explain to you that it wasn't meant in a racist way. Just a dump [sic] joke to hit you where it hurts. I deeply regret my acting and I thought you did forgive me this but obviously not. If it makes you feeling [sic] better to keep this hate... do it!"
In another incident, on his first day back in the office after New Year's Eve, Molyneux-Berry arrived at his desk to find the N word written on his calendar. Bogenberger admitted to writing the slur and apologized.
RA has seen a phone snap of the calendar and part of Molyneux-Berry's Whatsapp conversation with his colleagues about it. He says, "You guys don't think this is a little too much?" Bogenberger replies, "Welcome back [party smiley face emoji]," then: "And sorry [cringe emoji], this is not funny at all."
"I have reached my limit," Molyneux-Berry wrote to Ettelt and Osman. "There are many other incidents but what I have listed above is enough. It's even too much." Molyneux-Berry says his colleagues replied to his email in person by offering a meeting, in which Molyneux-Berry asked for sensitivity training for all staff, a request that he said went unheeded until this year.
Renate have not agreed to an interview about Molyneux-Berry's experiences. Instead, they released a statement that responds to the situation without naming anyone and outlines the club's next steps.
"To our former employee, the management of Wilde Renate are deeply sorry for not taking more direct and clear action in response to the racism you faced while employed within our organization," the statement says. "We see now how offering more options to support you in the investigation and mediation with these racist incidents were necessary to their proper resolve. We are also sorry that so much time has passed between these conversations, it is disappointing for everyone involved." You can read the full text on Renate's website.
"The upsetting thing is I reached out many times for over a year while working there and no one took me seriously," Molyneux-Berry told RA. "I went to the Club Commission before going public. But [Renate are] deflecting and trying to take control of the narrative. They only fully addressed this last week when approached by the press. I was never offered a formal apology from the company for the institutionalised racism or from Peak. I was only told that I'm overreacting and that I made him do these things to me."
Salon Zur Wilden Renate is one of Berlin's best-known clubs. It's run by the same team as Else, a venue that's been hosting legal open-airs during the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's weird that this had to happen," Molyneux-Berry said. "We had a great chemistry, all of us. We were so close. Which is why the lines were blurred."