Almost nobody can hold out in the face of intense social media pressure. That’s what Antoine Griezmann found out after he was accused of racism after he posted on Twitter a photo of him dressed up as a member of the Harlem Globetrotter. That would have been fine except he painted himself black while doing for the Halloween costume party.
While the Harlem Globetrotters, who tour around the world with their basketball skills and comedic stunts, were predominantly African-Americans, there were Caucasian members such as Bob Kastens who played with the team in 1942-1943. He went on to manage the team.
According to RT, the term “blackface” was coined in the 19th century to describe the practice of white theater actors to paint their faces black in order to play the role of African-Americans.
As expected, the stunt pulled by Griezmann caused some backlash as Twitter user accused him of racism.
BBC Sports reporter John Bennett wrote, “What is Antoine Griezmann thinking? And is there nobody around him to tell him that is a very bad idea?”
Another Twitter user noted that if anybody doesn’t think that what Griezmann did wasn’t racist then they are part of the problem. The post only proved that “casual racism” is still present in society.
The Atletico Madrid striker first bristled at being called a racist as he asked his followers, “Calm down friends, I’m fan of the Harlem globetrotters and the good times,” he wrote via ESPN, before adding, “It’s a tribute.”
Later, he backtracked.
“I recognise it is clumsy on my part,” he wrote. “If I have hurt anyone, I apologise.”
Stan Collymore, who used to play for England as a striker, tweeted that there’s no excuse for the post since a cursory search on Google for the term blackface will give Griezmann plenty of context.