Family sues Deadspin after blackface accusation at Kansas City Chiefs game
The parents of a 9-year-old Kansas City Chiefs fan who wore face paint and a Native American headdress to a game this year filed a lawsuit against Deadpsin alleging the site maliciously attacked the boy when it published a story about the young fan wearing "blackface."
In the lawsuit Raul and Shannon Armenta claim their son attended the Chiefs-Raiders NFL football game on November 26 with his face painted half-red and half-black, and a costume headdress to support the team, along with a Chiefs jersey, a necklace.
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During the CBS television broadcast of the game, their son was shown in the audience wearing his red-and-black face paint. The cameras then panned to a fan on the opposing team who also had their face painted in the Las Vegas Raiders team colors, in black-and-white, the suit stated.
The family claims that Deadspin Senior Writer, Carron Phillips, selectively captured an image from the CBS broadcast of their son only showing only the side of his face with black paint on it. After obtaining the photo, Phillips published an article with a headline that read, “The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs fan in Black face, Native headdress.”
The fan's grandfather, Raul Armenta Sr., sits on the board of the Chumash Tribe in Santa Ynez, California.
According to the Chumash website government page of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Armenta was elected to the Business Committee in 2016 and joined the board with significant tribal government experience after serving more than two decades on the tribe’s Gaming Commission.
The Deadspin article alleged that the young Chiefs fan had “found a way to hate Black people and the Native Americans at the same time.” The article alleged that the parents, “taught” their son “racism and hate” at home, the suit stated.
On December 7 the article was updated with an editor's note that stated that the article's "intended focus was on the NFL" and not the fan.
"On Nov. 27, Deadspin published an opinion piece criticizing the NFL for allowing a young fan to attend the Kansas City Chiefs game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Nov. 26 wearing a traditional Native American headdress and, based upon the available photo, what appeared to be black face paint," the editor's note began.
In the note the editor discussed the NFL's history when it comes to race, stating that the Chiefs banned fans from wearing headdresses in Arrowhead Stadium, as well as face painting that, “appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions.”
"We regret any suggestion that we were attacking the fan or his family. To that end, our story was updated on Dec. 7 to remove any photos, tweets, links, or otherwise identifying information about the fan. We have also revised the headline to better reflect the substance of the story," the note ended.
The article's headline has since been updated to "The NFL Must Ban Native Headdress And Culturally Insensitive Face Paint in the Stands (UPDATED)" with a picture of Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL.
A representative for G/O Media declined to comment on the lawsuit.