Ellen DeGeneres Addresses Controversial ‘Racist’ Tweet About Usain Bolt

Ellen DeGeneres, popular comedian and talk show host, has addressed claims that she is racist after a controversial meme involving Olympic champion, Usain Bolt, was tweeted from her official account on Monday. In the meme, Ellen’s body is photoshopped onto a picture of Usain Bolt zooming past his competitors in the semifinal for the 100 meters and it looks like she’s taking a piggyback ride. Usain would eventually go on to win the Olympic gold in that event, becoming the first man to do so in three consecutive Olympic Games.

“This is how I’m running my errands from now on,” the tweet was captioned.

The tweet received a mixed reaction on social media. While some saw the Ellen DeGeneres tweet as humorous, others thought that it was racist and called the comedian out on it.

For her part, Ellen DeGeneres and her team have not deleted the tweet and recently published a tweet addressing the uproar. In the tweet, she declares that she isn’t racist and is cognizant of the racism that exists in the United States.

Ellen’s fans have been defending her on Twitter.

As the Hollywood Reporter notes, Ellen DeGeneres has had Usain Bolt on her show before. During the last season of her very popular daytime talk show, she had Usain Bolt on to “race” a then 8-year-old Jamaican viral video star, Demarjay Smith. According to the Hollywood Reporter, DeGeneres’ Twitter account published a throwback tweet with a clip from that episode an hour after posting the “piggyback” meme.

“Heres something you don’t see very often-@UsainBolt losing a race. This was 1 of my favorite moments from last season,” Ellen’s tweet said.

While Ellen’s (or her social media person’s) intentions may have not been racist, the image does bring to mind The United States’ history of slavery where black men and women were sold as beasts of burden to mostly white masters, as an article on Mic points out.

“Considering America’s history of slavery, where black women and men were listed and sold to labor much like horses and mules, this tweet didn’t go over well with many,” writes Ashley Edwards for Mic.

imagine a white-man Photoshop himself riding Elaine Thompson

@TheEllenShow how I’m running errands from now on. pic.twitter.com/jZMGd48hgk

— Life of Starry (@StarryToronto) August 16, 2016

Edwards then goes on to link the Ellen DeGeneres tweet to the media’s coverage of the achievements of black athletes at The Olympics in Rio.

“The show’s tasteless tweet is just another example of the American media’s consistent tendency to trivialize, overshadow, or altogether forget the achievements of black Olympic athletes,” she writes. “U.S. Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas has had to constantly face criticism for her hair. Now Bolt’s record-shattering accomplishments are being reduced to stereotypical punchlines.”

Do you think that Ellen DeGeneres’ Usain Bolt meme is racist? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

[Photos by Shaun Botterill, Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]