The Root, a self-described outlet for "Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude," published a piece Sunday accusing X owner Elon Musk of igniting a "hate storm against" black Deadspin reporter Carron Phillips, who wrote a piece accusing a 9-year-old Kansas City Chiefs fan of wearing blackface.
Musk wrote on Nov. 28, "Carron Phillips is an unapologetic racist and a deceiver. Shame on him."
"Within minutes, the hate train had begun chugging. Thousands of people liked and commented on the post, and the inboxes of several journalists associated with his outlet were flooded with emails calling on Phillips to be fired," The Root stated.
Phillips’ piece used a photo of 9-year-old Holden Armenta at the Nov. 26 Chiefs game against the Raiders, in which the Native American child sported red and black face paint — colors seen in the team’s logo — as well as a Native American headdress.
The Root defended Phillips, stating that the photo of the child was used "to make a broader point about racism within the NFL."
"In the photo, broadcasted by CBS and re-posted by Deadspin, only half of the child’s face was visible. The visible side was painted black. For those who don’t know, white Americans used to paint their faces black to mock Black people, which is why the image of wearing Black across one’s face is considered offensive," the outlet wrote.
The article, a summary of the backlash Deadspin received for the piece titled, "The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs in Black face, Native headdress," continued on to note that the child is Native American, and that the father of the boy said, "We never in any way, shape, or form meant to disrespect any Native Americans or any tribes. The tribe we’re from doesn’t even wear that type of headdress. This specific headdress is a novelty piece. It’s a costume piece."
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, of which the boy is associated with, said it does "not endorse wearing regalia as part of a costume or participating in any other type of cultural appropriation," with a member of a different tribe and an activist with the group pushing the Chiefs to change their name in the same way the Washington Redskins had done, speaking out to the outlet against the wearing of the headdress.
"Sadly, racist tropes and names surrounding the Indigenous community are commonplace in American sports. Multiple college and professional teams like the Florida State Seminoles, the Chicago Blackhawks and MLB’s former Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, feature offensive names and mascots," The Root wrote.
The Root concluded, "Why would fans see a problem with any of this when the team seems OK with it," noting that the team still has an "offensive name and an even more offensive chant" that they "don’t discourage."
The parents of Armenta have reportedly threatened G/O Media, the parent company of both Deadspin and The Root, with legal action following the story, with a letter stating that "It is not enough to quietly remove a tweet from X or disable the article from Deadspin’s website."
"You must publish your retractions and issue an apology to my clients with the same prominence and fanfare with which you defamed them."
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