The British Army was forced to delete a tweet from its official Twitter account depicting a troop with dark camouflage paint on his face following accusations of racism on the social network.
“Being a #soldier in the jungle requires a robust sense of humour,” read the tweet. It shows a soldier marching through the jungle, gun in hand, turning back to look at the camera with an expression of surprise.
— Jon Scammell (@JonScammell) October 19, 2016
The tweet immediately incensed Twitter users who called it “disgraceful”, “stupid” and “racist,” with several critics likening the picture to offensive “blackface” make-up traditionally associated with late 19th-century minstrel shows.
.@BritishArmy Blackface, light jacket = ineffective camouflage. Unless you're trying to pass unnoticed among a cabal of, say, armed racists.
— RTJ (@rtjpoet) October 19, 2016
.@BritishArmy please delete this offensive mess of a tweet…
— Vlach Ashton (@VlachAshton) October 19, 2016
— #Plātts™ (@davidplatten) October 19, 2016
But others defended the post, pointing out that the soldier’s outfit follows standard military camouflage and concealment measures .
“If you think camouflage is racist, please wear a hi-vis jacket next time you’re being shot at,” one of them said.
This is not the first time the British UK Army has posted images of training soldiers donning in camo:
— British Army (@BritishArmy) October 14, 2016
But this time the backlash was so strong it nixed the tweet after only a few minutes.
An official apology said: “We can see how the picture and the title given to it may have made the image open to interpretation and we have therefore immediately removed the tweet.”
Officials nonetheless urged the public to familiarize themselves with the “extensive imagery” of the Irish Guards in jungle exercises available on the British Army’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages to put the picture “in context.”
This is the latest in a string of “blackface” controversies in the past few months.
Last month, a student at Kansas State University was booted from school and expelled from her sorority after she posted a picture of herself wearing a black clay mask on Snapchat, *jokingly* captioned “Feels good to finally be a nigga.”