The Olympics have been in full swing for about two weeks. The internet has been crazy with photos, videos, memes and gifs surrounding the games in Rio. Recently, social media has been buzzing with opinions on Ellen Degeneres' tweet o9n Monday, 15 August. She posted a photo of Usain Bolt, a decorated Olympic sprinter, smiling at the cameras as he wins the 100m race at the Rio Olympics. Ellen photoshopped herself onto Bolt's back and captioned her tweet: "This is how I'm running my errands from now on. #Rio2016".
Most sensitive topics are met with conflicting opinions, and Degeneres' photoshopped tweet is no different. Thoughts on her photo could have gone one of two ways: viewers could have seen it as a lighthearted joke, a humorous comment on Usain Bolt's athletic talents. After all, he is the fastest runner in the world right now. Or they could see it as a militant and unforgivable insult toward black people. There are many who have found her tweet to be insensitive, racist and in poor taste. They have questioned her choice to photoshop herself on Bolt's back, I can see why. A white woman riding on the back of a black man? Many Twitter users have voiced their opinions, explaining how they see Degeneres' choice as her expressing that she sees Usain Bolt as nothing more than a common pack mule. A slave.
There are also people who are flocking to social media to defend the lovable talk show host. Many have commented that if Degeneres had photoshopped herself on the back of a white Olympic runner, no one would be saying a word. Others are reminding us that we all know the person Degeneres is, and we'd have to be idiots to truly think that she would say something truly racist and hurtful.
So does Ellen Degeneres deserve all the backlash she's getting about her tweet? I don't think so. I understand the amount of racism that fills our world, and I truly understand why people could find offense in Degeneres tweet. But honestly, there are so many other things happening in the world. I think we as a society should be more focused on the real problems going on in the world, not something that wasn't meant to be offensive or insulting.
To find out what my friends thought about this whole ordeal, I went to the one place I knew I'd get a decent response, Facebook. I posted a status asking my friends what they thought of the "Ellen Degeneres thing" and I was pleased that so many people responded. The majority of those who commented said the same thing - it was a little ridiculous for people to get offended by Degeneres' tweet. They found it funny, a compliment to Bolt's talents. One friend stated that he "didn't think...people should be offended by it because it had nothing to do with skin color or race. It had to do with the fact that this is Ellen's humor. If Usain Bolt was white she'd make the same post. I'm...sure of it." Another friend stated that people getting offended by a tweet such as this is "the victim mentality of America running rampant again." He continued by saying that Degeneres "obviously meant nothing demeaning by it and it was meant as a compliment."
While most of the comments I got were similar, there was one that stood out to me because it was a different approach to the debate. He wrote: "Riding on a black person was a legit demeaning thing way back. However, she probably didn't know that and would have done this if the fastest man alive was a white guy. It was an honest mistake, she ain't racist at all." This comment made me pause and think about the past. I was unaware that whites riding on black people was actually something that was a problem. But the end conclusion was still the same, Ellen Degeneres wasn't being racist.
Despite the connotations that may be associated with Degeneres' tweet, I don't feel that she was being a racist. She was giving Usain Bolt a humorous compliment on his athletic skill and his speed. Perhaps my opinion on the Ellen Degeneres Twitter debacle isn't as unpopular as I originally thought, but I know - and understand - that there are people in the world who have been offended by this post.