Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres’ usual humor took a hit on Twitter Monday. Users on the social media platform accused the comedian of racism because of a post about Usain Bolt’s historic Olympic win.
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Twitter page posted an edited image of the comedian on Bolt’s back.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 15, 2016
“This is how I’m running errands from now on,” the caption read.
Bolt earned his third straight gold medal in the men’s 100-meter race in Rio De Janerio, Brazil on Sunday. The Olympic win made him the first-ever track-and-field star to accomplish the feat.
Many online saw traces of racism instead of humor in DeGeneres’ tweet.
@JHoratio questioned why the comedian would authorize an image of herself riding the athlete’s back “like he’s a common mule?”
@TheEllenShow so the first thing that pops in your head when looking at this pic is "oh let me jump onto his back like he's a common mule"?
— Jon Snow-ratio (@Jhoratio) August 15, 2016
@MiQL responded, too, stating DeGeneres finds it fun to be carried like “some form of property.”
— 777-9311 (@MiQL) August 15, 2016
Some people thought the image was not problematic.
@fourfivehours found the photo complimentary.
— R (@fourfivehours) August 15, 2016
Pinto called the racist claims “unbelievable.”
Wait, y'all saying Ellen's Usain Bolt tweet was racist??? Unbelievable
— Pinto (@iTalkTwit) August 16, 2016
Mr. Marin defended DeGeneres’ humor, hoping she won’t apologize.
Comedy is supposed to relieve us. Make us laugh. If it's not done maliciously, anything can be joked about.
— Mr. Marin (@MrMarinKnows) August 16, 2016
Although the two-time Oscars host did not apologize, she issued a short message on the controversy Tuesday.
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
But for some, it was not OK.
@angryblackhoemo told the comedian to have a seat.
….yet you found it appropriate to post a meme of you riding a Black dude like Ms. Daisy.
Have a seat. ☕ @TheEllenShow
— Angry Black Hoe-Mo (@angryblackhoemo) August 16, 2016
Darrell Davis told DeGeneres she should be mindful of what content she shares.
@TheEllenShow maybe, maybe not but you certainly should NOT post things that make so many racist chuckle.
— DarrellDavis (@DarrellDavis) August 16, 2016
Others supported the host.
Britney-Lee said DeGeneres shouldn’t worry about the heat.
@TheEllenShow we all found the JOKE funny ,don't sweat it ellen ???
— Britney-Lee (@BLJLEE) August 16, 2016
Ashley Ruski Hinds voiced her support and called the racist accusations “sickening.”
@TheEllenShow sickening that people take innocent things and twist them!! We love you Ellen!!
— Ashley Ruski Hinds (@AshleyRuski) August 16, 2016
This is not the first time DeGeneres has been caught up in racial controversy. The comedian poked fun at a Black woman’s name during a segment on her talk show earlier this year. She compared TiTi Pierce’s name to a sign that read, “Nipple Convalescent Home.”
The Telegraph reported Pierce, a real estate broker from Georgia, sued the show’s distributor in June after she received phone calls mocking her name.
She alleged an invasion of privacy by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” for posting her phone number on her real estate sign.
Pierce’s name is of Nigerian descent and means “flower.”