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Delta Airlines apologises for 'racist' giraffe gaffe about Ghana after USA beats Black Stars

Published on: 18 June 2014
Delta shared this image representing Ghana with a giraffe – despite the fact that the animals do not live there

Delta Airlines has been accused of “racism” and forced to apologise after a tweet it posted about the World Cup portrayed Ghana with a picture of a giraffe – despite the fact that there are no giraffes in Ghana.

The tweet congratulated the US football team for its 2 – 1 victory over the African nation last night, and the airline’s social media team clearly wanted to represent this with a striking image.

The Statue of Liberty was understandably chosen to stand for the US but, in a choice described as “racial stereotyping” by one football writer, the airline displayed a distinct lack of local knowledge by using a picture of the long-necked animal to represent Ghana.

Large swathes of Africa are giraffe-free – including Ghana and the majority of its West African neighbours. Twitter user Tom Chaplin wrote: “What do giraffes have to do with Ghana?”

Another (@demimoiselle) said the tweet showed Delta thought that “Ghana = Africa = giraffe”, and a New Jersey-based blogger (@zellieimani) described it as the “most ignorant and racist thing this week”.

Others came to the airline’s defence, however, describing the incident as “ignorance” not “racism”. Brian Hennigan tweeted: “Being racist and not knowing where giraffes live are two different things, leave Delta alone.”

A screenshot of the Delta tweet captured before it was deleted

A screenshot of the Delta tweet captured before it was deleted

But Andy Cussen, an Australian football writer covering the World Cup, said: “It's racial stereotyping which is a form of racism. Sorry if people are offended by people being offended.”

The original tweet has since been removed by Delta, and replaced with an apology reading: “We’re sorry for our choice of photo in our previous tweet. Best of luck to all teams.”

The airline has since told The Independent that it will be “reviewing” its use of social media in the wake of the incident. A spokesperson said the use of an image of a giraffe to represent Ghana was “both inaccurate and inappropriate”.

“As a global airline, we understand the role images play in shaping global perceptions,” the spokesperson said. “We also recognize our responsibility to create messages that are both accurate and inclusive. We take this responsibility seriously.

“Yesterday, we failed to meet this responsibility. For this, we sincerely apologise.

“We have removed the image and are reviewing our processes to ensure that future images and posts reflect both our values and our global focus.”

This is not the first time an airline and social media have come together with disastrous results.

In April, US Airways was forced to apologise after it responded to complaints on its official Twitter feed by posting an extremely graphic sexual image.

That same month, a misjudged tweet by a 14-year-old girl “threatening” American Airlines resulted in her being arrested by police in Rotterdam.

And Justine Sacco’s name trended around the world when she posted a racist “joke” on the social media site before boarding a long-haul flight to South Africa last year.


This article has 9 comment(s), give your comment
  • wee ba says:
    June 18, 2014 06:25 am
    Thanks to dr akwasi appiah we are been represented by giraffe...
  • awass says:
    June 18, 2014 06:39 am
    **** u all
  • awass says:
    June 18, 2014 06:41 am
    U call diz sheer ignorance....**** u all @ delta airline
  • Mumbi says:
    June 18, 2014 06:44 am
    A giraffe is totally different from Ghana's ancesters who migrated from ????????????????
  • shine says:
    June 18, 2014 06:56 am
    Americans should be ashame of themselves by their racism. Ghana has sold the match to America for them to be happy yet they still Racists Africans using a giraft to represented Africa. Delta airlines are those who did that. Ok we dont need their flights in Africa otherwise many of their airplane shall be burn or bomp. They should be aware of it Africans shall distroy Delta airlines to the last drop of our blood. Americans should **** off and be ashame of themselve for buying that match. Mother fucking Americans. May all goes deep into the sea if this is your plans to Racist Africans by called us a giraft gay mother fuckers.
  • benny says:
    June 18, 2014 07:12 am
    I sent delta air line 5 complaints about their dispecable imagery of Ghana the pride of Africa.
  • Nick says:
    June 18, 2014 07:32 am
    They are not to be given any attention. They are just incompetent ignorants and cowardly winners who do not know how to celebrate their victory.
  • PITO says:
    June 18, 2014 07:36 am
    In this age of google if you sit on your ass and cannot be bothered to google Ghana and find a suitable image to represents them in your tweet. That is neglect and a form of belittling into irrelevance which is a result of chronic RACIST tendencies in many western trained people. A quick read on Ghana will reveal images such as Golden stool, Kente fabric, kente looms,ripened Cocoa pods, okomfo anokye statue,Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, independence square or if you want animals an elephant in mole park or sitting on a crocodile in Paga. lol
  • George W. Jones says:
    June 18, 2014 03:09 pm
    Why blame a vulture for perching over a carcass ? Do you think slavery is really abolished ? If an airline company like Delta were left alone to do business their own ways, they will rather prefer to transport slaves to modern America instead of normal passengers. Africa needs to wake up. Please MAMA AFRICA ban all these racists from landing on our soil because delta airlines do not deserve to land on the soil of giraffes.