Qantas apologises for blackface stunt; offensive or innocent?

ally 2011/08/28 22:05:32
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Qantas is at the centre of a scandal after posting a photo on Twitter of two men with their faces painted black and wearing afro wigs.

The airline, a major Wallabies sponsor, had given the two fans free tickets to the Rugby Union Bledisloe Cup, held on Saturday night, for promising dress up as their favourite player Radike Samo - an Australian of Fijian heritage.

The two men wore black face-paint and afro wigs and Qantas posted a photograph of the marketing stunt on the micro-blogging site.

"Looks like our Twitter winners of the Bledisloe Cup tix lived up to their promise! Good work," the airline tweeted on Sunday.

But the airline changed its tune after an angry Twitter backlash and issued an apology.

"We apologise the photo of 2 Radike fans offended people. We've spoken with Radike and whilst he has no issue with it we have removed the image," the airline Tweeted.

The chairman of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), Stephen Ryan, said he was stunned Qantas had encouraged the men.

"It is simply unbelievable that they wouldn't have known such a stunt could backfire," Mr Ryan said in a statement on Sunday.

"It's hard to believe that a company that has used Aboriginal iconography to try and improve its image didn't know that this could easily be construed as racist."

But Samo said he had gladly posed for pictures with the pair and didn't understand "what the fuss is all about".

"These guys were actually paying me a tribute. It was a bit of fun and I think it's great that they regarded me as their favourite Wallaby," he said.

"I didn't have an issue with it at all ... I don't know why anyone's getting worked up, that sort of reaction is just silly."

An Australian Rugby Union spokesman said the imposing loose forward was a "cult figure" in Queensland, where he was recently part of the winning Super 15 Reds side.

"And after his performance in last night's Test (he) may well become a cult figure around the country during the World Cup in New Zealand," the spokesman said.

"These guys dressing up were Radike fans and Radike thought it was awesome. He felt neither offended nor insulted."

The fan who originally uploaded the picture, said it was "only our intention to show support for Radike Samo, our favourite player, and the Wallabies ...".

"I would like to apologise for the incident, in no way was it my intention to offend anyone and I am deeply sorry," he said.

The incident comes just two years after the Nine Network's Hey Hey Its Saturday sparked an worldwide outcry for depicting five men in blackface performing a Jackson Five number.

Read More: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/qant...

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  • Dum Luk 2011/09/13 22:46:46
    Dum Luk
    LOL they look like golliwogs.
  • Rusty Shackleford 2011/08/28 22:19:08
    Rusty Shackleford
    Black people can do "whiteface", just another double standard I guess.

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