The British Army has been forced to apologise and delete a tweet after being accused of “racism” for posting a picture of a soldier with green camouflage paint on his face.
The tweet, from the Army’s official Twitter account, said that being a soldier in the jungle “requires a robust sense of humour” and featured a picture of an officer with an amusing, surprised expression on his face.
Users of the social media site claimed the soldier’s camouflage face paint was an example of “black face” – a supposedly racist practice whereby white people dress up as ethnic minorities.
One angry Tweeter said the reference to humour was “clearly” related to the soldier’s face paint, with one writing: “The blackface combined with the ‘sense of humour’ line, it all comes off as pretty racist.”
The Army deleted the post in minutes and issued a swift apology. An Army spokesman told The Telegraph they recognised how the tweet “may have been misinterpreted” and were sorry.
“The caption is definitely bad. There’s nothing else the ‘sense of humour’ could obviously refer to,” commented another person.
Another said he disliked “the idea of non-white people fighting for a country that sees their skin colour as something to joke about” while another asked: “Are you completely stupid?”
Some users, however, were not so offended. “I am really disappointed that you deleted that tweet. The army should be made of strong stuff, not caving in like that,” wrote one.
The incident is just the latest in a string of controversies caused by “offensive” practice of “black face”.
In one of the more unusual examples, in March, the black actress Zoe Saldana was attacked for darkening her skin in a film where she played the black singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone.
Many universities and campuses have outlawed the practice altogether, and in August, traditional British Morris dancers were banned from painting their faces at one of the UK’s biggest folk festivals after being accused of “black face”.