Italian airline Alitalia made a huge faux pas that it is now apologizing for.
The carrier was touting its new route between Rome and Washington D.C. with a marketing video that depicted an interview with an actor portraying former U.S. President Barack Obama.
The actor appeared to be in blackface and Alitalia received immediate backlash.
This is horrible. Italian airline @Alitalia has a campaign for its new flights to Washington, DC featuring … Barack Obama, in really terrible blackface. https://t.co/xr3PRswyWN
— Kyle Potter (@kpottermn) July 3, 2019
@Alitalia didnt know the blackface impersonation was offensive? Yes you did. #lies
— tmonae (@tereziamonae) July 4, 2019
The reaction prompted Alitalia to apologize and completely scrub the video from all outlets, including social media.
Italian airline Alitalia has apologized for a promotional video that featured an actor in blackface portraying former US President Barack Obama. The video was made as part of an advertising campaign for Alitalia’s new Rome-Washington route. https://t.co/og1D8RtHog pic.twitter.com/mTIi6BGFqF
— CNN (@CNN) July 4, 2019
“Alitalia deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the promotional video on our Washington route,” Alitalia said in a statement. “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.”
According to CNN, blackface refers to darkening one’s complexion using paint or makeup. In the United States, the racist practice has its roots in 19th-century minstrel shows but it also appeared in Europe.