Ellen DeGeneres Denies Racism Claims After Usain Bolt Meme
Ellen DeGeneres has denied she is racist after coming under fire for a Usain Bolt meme she posted on Twitter.
The Jamaican runner was captured by a photographer smiling for the camera as he casually sprinted to victory in the semi-final of the men’s 100m event at the Rio Olympics on Saturday.
After the now-iconic picture went viral, a Photoshopped image of the 58-year-old talk show host riding on the back of Bolt was posted by DeGeneres on Twitter on Monday, with the caption, “This is how I’m running errands from now on.”
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 15, 2016
The comedian faced a backlash on social media, with some branding the image racist and insensitive. “You thought it’d be funny to post a pic of yourself riding on the back of a black man? Nope. Delete this racist garbage,” wrote one user.
“‘An apology won’t do. This is utterly f**king ridiculous. How dare you!?!?” posted another, while others called for someone to be fired over the meme. “Dear @TheEllenShow: Whatever intern thought this tweet was a good idea should be fired. Immediately,” they posted.
On Tuesday, DeGeneres took to Twitter to insist she is not racist, and told her fans, “I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am.”
Bolt, who was a guest on her show last year, also retweeted the image, further supporting DeGeneres’ claims that the meme was not intended to cause offense.
Both the talk show host’s original post from Monday, and Bolt’s retweet of the image, are still on their Twitter accounts. Neither has commented further on the controversy.
The record-breaking sprinter went on to win the men’s 100m final on Sunday and is due to compete in the upcoming 200m semi-final on Thursday.
The fastest man on the planet, who is the current holder of world records in the men’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, is attempting to achieve an unprecedented ‘triple triple’ at the Rio Olympics, by defending the titles he won in the events at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, and London in 2012.