Ellen DeGeneres defends her Usain Bolt tweet some claimed was racist

Kevin Kaduk
Fourth-Place Medal
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1056797/" data-ylk="slk:Usain Bolt">Usain Bolt</a> appears on ‘Ellen’ in 2015.
Usain Bolt appears on ‘Ellen’ in 2015.

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Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres defended herself on Tuesday after some claimed that a humorous Usain Bolt tweet sent out from her social media accounts a day earlier was racist.

“I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country,” @TheEllenShow tweeted. “It is the furthest thing from who I am.”

DeGeneres’ popular Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts often feature funny images that have been altered to include her. On Monday, her accounts sent out a picture of her riding on Bolt’s back during Sunday’s 100 meter semifinal with the suggestion she’d like to use the Jamaican sprinter’s word-class speed to get her errands done faster.


Some social media users took issue with the image of a white woman riding on a black man’s back and fired back at the accounts.

“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?” one Twitter user wrote.

“No matter if there was no ill intent, it still has racial undertones,” wrote one Facebook user.

“An apology won’t do, this is utterly [expletive] ridiculous, how dare you?” wrote another person on Twitter.

The overwhelming majority of DeGeneres’ followers, however, defended the star.

“What’s wrong with it?” Bryan Young wrote on Twitter. “She’s saying he’s fast. Nothing more, nothing less.”

“People love creating stories. Ellen’s apparently now a racist,” one person responded.

It’s impossible to believe that the comedian had any ill intent or any hidden message. DeGeneres is one of the biggest openly gay stars in Hollywood and has built a legion of fans by treating everyone equally and with respect — from the everyday people she features on her show to the biggest movie stars. As she said in her tweet, sending a racist message would be the exact opposite of her true self.

DeGeneres also has had Bolt on her show before. The three-time 100-meter gold medalist appeared with Ellen and the show tweeted about the time Bolt “lost” a race to a young viral video sensation.

On the other hand, you have to figure her social media team could have seen the criticism coming in today’s climate and taken an easier route for a Bolt-related joke.

What do you think? Was Ellen’s tweet out of bounds?


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