On August 15, Ellen DeGeneres posted a photoshopped version of the now-famous snapshot of Olympic runner Usain Bolt glancing back at his competitors during the 100-meter semifinal race in Rio. In the doctored photo, DeGeneres appears to be riding on his back. She captioned the image, "This is how I’m running errands from now on."
For many, this might seem like just the kind of lighthearted, silly joke DeGeneres is known for. But critics on Twitter are accusing the comedian of racism, saying the image of a white woman on a Black man's back is offensive.
One commenter wrote in response to the tweet, "despite its intentions this pic has ugly connotations comin from a rich white lady. Another tweeted, "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."
Others have her back, with one supporter tweeting, "why are people offended by this."
This isn't the first time a joke from DeGeneres has been called racist. Last October, the daytime host faced criticism after her show produced and aired a parody promo for Nicki Minaj's upcoming series. The clip featured characters playing Minaj's various family members, all sporting outsize prosthetic butts.
Today, DeGeneres responded to the backlash, tweeting, "I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am."