Since photographer Cameron Spencer captured a smiling Usain Bolt dashing past his competitors during the 100-meter semifinal round on Aug. 14, it’s entered the lexicon of internet memes.
The following day, The Ellen Show tweeted a photoshopped version of herself riding piggyback on the Olympic gold medalist, with the caption, “This is how I’m running errands from now on.”
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 15, 2016
Twitter users accused the comedian of racism and felt that the image had racial undertones.
@TheEllenShow 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.
— Mike (@MikeAllen_47) August 15, 2016
— Latrice Butts (@latricebutts) August 17, 2016
Many of DeGeneres’ followers defended the television personality.
“What’s wrong with it?,” Brian Young tweeted. “She’s saying he’s fast. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Matt Burgess tweeted, “Incredible to think that some people out there think it is! Not racist in the slightest.”
“People love creating stories. Ellen’s apparently now a racist,” one Twitter user wrote.
Mrs. Corie D tweeted, “The only people offended the Thumbsuckers who live in the angry corner and see racism under ever rock. Its a piggy back ride”
In response to the uproar, DeGeneres tweeted: “I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am.”
I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 16, 2016
Apparently, Bolt didn’t see any problems with the image—he retweeted the image on his own Twitter page.