Airline slammed over racist blackface video

An Italian airline has been forced to apologise and pull a promotional video from their aircraft, after being accused of racism for featuring an actor in blackface portraying former US president Barack Obama.

The video, which was made for Alitalia airlines, was part of an advertising campaign for various social media platforms.

The video was made as part of an advertising campaignSource:Supplied

In a statement, the airline said they were “deeply” sorry for causing any upset.

“Alitalia deeply apologises for the offence caused by the promotional video on our Washington route,” the airline tweeted.

Alitalia deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the promotional video on our Washington route. It has since been removed. For our Company, respect for everyone is mandatory, it was never our intention to hurt anyone and we will learn from what has happened.

“It has since been removed. For our company, respect for everyone is mandatory, it was never our intention to hurt anyone and we will learn from what has happened.”

The video featured an actor in blackface portraying former US President Barack Obama.Source:Supplied

Various comments on social media slammed the video, claiming the airline was clueless when launching the material online.

“This @Alitalia video showcasing a silent blackfaces ‘Obama’ is reprehensive on so many levels: racism, extreme provincialism, wilful ignorance of facts, lack of historic knowledge,” one user tweeted.

Whoa. @Alitalia advertises its new flight to Washington with an actor in blackface playing Obama. The video also features people saying he was born in Africa. Words fail me.https://t.co/RoTjrATtVM

“When your social media/marketing team has no idea about the state of the world today. And the award goes to … @Alitalia,” another added.

According to The New York Times, an airline representative allegedly defended the controversial video at first when negative comments started to erupt online, arguing that the actor wasn’t white and that “makeup was applied to highlight (his) features”.

Last year, Italian fashion label Prada pulled “racist” products amid blackface backlash, after the luxury brand stocked toy-style accessories dubbed “Pradamalia”, which featured black monkeys with red lips, and had been compared to blackface.

Prada has pulled a line of figurines that resembled blackface from its stores. Picture: Chinyere Ezie/Facebook.Source:Supplied

The brand initially issued an apology, saying the design was a “fantasy” and had not intended to be racist.

It then said it would “withdraw the characters in question from display and circulation”, adding that Prada “abhors racist imagery”.

“The Pradamalia are fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre,” a statement from Prada said at the time.

“They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface.

“Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery.”

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