An Italian airline has issued an apology after they were accused of racism for using a non-black actor to portray former U.S. President Barack Obama in blackface.
According to Al Jazeera, Alitalia made an announcement about a new non-stop flight from Rome to Washington D.C. last month and created a series of advertising videos to promote the new route. The videos feature four actors playing as United States presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama. Obama’s video gained international attention when it showed the Italian-Tunisian actor covered in black and brown makeup, along with an enlarged nose and lips.
The airline released an apology after receiving backlash from social media users.
“Alitalia deeply apologises for the offense caused by the promotional video on our new Washington route. It has since been removed from all of our social media channels,”
“For our Company, respect for everyone is mandatory, it was never our intention to hurt anyone and we will learn from what has happened.”
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The airline denied the accusations at first when a Facebook user noticed the actor’s makeup. University of Rome researcher, Leonardo De Franceschi, called out the airline for using racial stereotypes to promote their airline but Alitalia claimed they did not use change the actor’s skin color.
“The actor we cast is not Caucasian, we used the makeup to change his facial features, not his skin colour.”
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