Delta Airlines World Cup Twitter Fail: America = Freedom, Ghana = Giraffes

Delta Airlines was only trying to do what millions of Americans were doing Monday evening — celebrating the United States Men’s National soccer team’s dramatic World Cup victory over its nemesis, Ghana — a country that defeated the U.S. in each of the last two World Cup tournaments.

But everything went wrong with a Twitter posting issued by Delta, when someone at the airline’s social media operation appeared to think that just because Ghana is part of Africa, that it is the same as all of Africa — a gaffe that other Twitter users interpreted as, at best, thoughtless and poorly researched, or at worst, racist.

The tweet has since been removed, but because nothing ever really disappears on the internet, a screen capture of the deleted posting can be seen below. The numerals “2” and “1” represent the score of the memorable match — U.S.A. 2, Ghana 1. But while the U.S. is represented in the image by the very symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty, Delta Airlines chose to represent Ghana with — a giraffe?

As Delta quickly learned from a veritable army of Twitter users, just because giraffes are native to some African countries, doesn’t mean that giraffes live in Ghana. They don’t.

While many of the offended Twitter users replied with humor, albeit biting and outraged humor, some pointed out that Delta’s apparent assumption that Ghana must have giraffes simply because it is a country in Africa was nothing short of racism.

“It’s racial stereotyping which is a form of racism,” wrote Australian sportswriter Andy Cussen. “Sorry if people are offended by people being offended.”

Indeed, as even a quick Wikipedia search would have revealed to Delta Airline social media department, Africa at 11.7 million square miles is the world’s second-largest continent behind only Asia. There are 54 different countries on the African continent, and more than a billion people. Of those, about 24 million live in Ghana.

Indeed, if Delta Airlines really wanted to use an animal as a Ghanaian avatar, the social media people there could have picked one of the two animals that Ghana chooses to represent itself, rather than one that doesn’t inhabit Ghana at all. The Ghana national coat of arms depicts two animals, the Tawny Eagle and the lion.

Delta later apologized for the tweet, but even made a mess of its mea culpa. The airline’s first attempt at an apology read, “We’re sorry for our choice of photo in our precious tweet.”

No, the original tweet was not especially “precious.” Delta Airlines then corrected its typo and posted a new apology.

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