Ellen DeGeneres is facing a wave of backlash after the Twitter account for her TV show tweeted out a joke about Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt that some users thought was racist — or at the very least, insensitive.
The “Finding Dory” voice actress shared an altered version of the now-iconic picture of the Jamaican sprinter casually looking back at his competition while winning the 100-meter dash. DeGeneres’ tweet showed the host clinging to Bolt’s back, Yoda-style, and the caption “This is how I’m running errands from now on.”
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 15, 2016
The picture had already become meme-fodder, as tons of Photoshop whizzes and caption-writing experts have had a field day riffing on the iconic image, so DeGeneres probably just thought her brand would join in on the fun.
Though Bolt is very fast, the implication that a black man should carry around a white person to do errands rubbed some on Twitter the wrong way.
— 777-9311 (@MiQL) August 15, 2016
DeGeneres did not delete the tweet (she hasn’t yet, at least), but she defended herself in a follow-up tweet.
“I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country,” she wrote. “It is the furthest thing from who I am.”
I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 16, 2016
DeGeneres probably didn’t mean to be offensive with her tweet, but this response is pretty tone-deaf. “I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country,” isn’t exactly a reassuring response coming from a wealthy white woman especially when the point of the people who DeGeneres offended is, in their opinion, that she isn’t really aware of it.
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