Skip to main content

Muhammad Ali Tribute Scarecrow Called Racist Online

A scarecrow intended to pay tribute to late boxer Muhammad Ali in Devon, England has sparked controversy on Twitter.

The scarecrow, created for the Awliscombe Scarecrow Competition and Tea Party in early June, was posted to social media, where users debated whether it was an acceptable tribute to the famed athlete, according to the Daily Mail. Ali died on June 3 after suffering from septic shock.

The mannequin was erected in Awliscombe, a small village with a population of 500. Scarecrow competitions are very common in Devon and the rest of the English countryside, according to the Sun. The scarecrows entered in the competitions are often created by children.

"Erm. People of Devon. This is not an okay 'Tribute' to Ali," Samuel Pinney tweeted on June 11 alongside an image of the scarecrow, according to the Daily Mail. 

Pinney's tweet gained over 150 retweets in two days, with Twitter users taking to the comments section to argue about whether the scarecrow was offensive.

"Explain why," one Twitter user wrote. "He was black, a boxer, and a champion. Nothing incorrect there in that photo."

The scarecrow bears a resemblance to an offensive caricature of people of African descent known as "pickaninny." The image of the pickaninny is widely considered to be a racist caricature, according to a report by the South Asian American Digital Archive.

"The pickaninny was an imagined, subhuman black juvenile who was typically depicted outdoors, merrily accepting (or even inviting) violence," Robin Bernstein, a professor of African American Studies at Harvard, wrote in "Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood From Slavery to Civil Rights," according to SAADA.

Other users on Twitter noted that they didn't see the scarecrow as racially charged.

"I wasn't thinking of it being offensive, just very weird !!" tweeted Trevor Allman.

"Being a Devonian, I can say that we just weren't used to many black people," wrote Helen Ayres, according to The  Sun. "Unaware being offensive I expect."

Source: Daily Mail, The Sun, SAADA / Photo Credit: APEX via The Sun

Popular Video