On Thursday, Elon Musk tweeted a 12-second video of what he discovered at Twitter HQ. The video features a closet full of t-shirts that have “#StayWoke” printed on them. The video had over four million views in just two hours. Ryan Mac, a New York Times reporter, shared the story of how the “#StayWork” Twitter merchandise came about. “They originated with Twitter’s Black employee resource group and were popularized by @jack (Jack Dorsey), who wore a version to conferences to support the group (and was occasionally mocked for it),” the journalist tweeted.
Musk, the world’s richest man, fired the company’s four top executives, including Indian-origin CEO Parag Agrawal and legal executive Vijaya Gadde. Soon after this, he fired nearly 50 percent of its staff. Musk has said the layoffs at Twitter were necessary because the company was losing up to $4 million per day.
The abrupt manner of such wide-ranging layoffs drew wide criticism and compelled Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey to apologize. Last week, hundreds of employees of the social media platform quit the company after an ultimatum from Musk, who demanded staff choose between being “extremely hardcore” and working intense, long hours or losing their jobs.
Musk appears to have posted the clip to defend himself from criticism that he has exclusively been kowtowing to the demands of right-wing users on the platform. Over the past week, Twitter has reinstated several previously banned accounts, nearly all of them belonging to conservative media figures and influencers.
Twitter’s new owner has pushed the narrative that the company was run by left-leaning individuals who were biased against conservatives on the platform. And conservatives have rebranded the term “woke” to mean anything progressive or on the left.