Parents of 9-year-old Chiefs fan threaten to sue Deadspin over ‘blackface’ claim

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Parents of young Chiefs fan accused of ‘blackface’ demand retraction, threaten defamation lawsuit against Deadspin

'It is not enough to quietly remove a tweet from X or disable the article from Deadspin’s website.'


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Dec 4, 2023

The parents of the nine-year-old accused by sports blog Deadspin of wearing blackface have threatened the media company with a lawsuit.

Last week, Deadspin writer Carron Phillips wrote an article about a picture of the child, Holden Armenta, at a Kansas City Chiefs game wearing a Native American headdress. The still, which comes from video of the game, only showed the right side of Armenta’s face in what appears to be black face paint.

Yet Phillips and the outlet, which accused Armenta of engaging in racist behavior, were met with backlash after other pictures and videos proved that he had painted his face half black and half red in honor of the Chiefs.

While supporters of Deadspin argued that the Native American headdress was inappropriate regardless, critics pushed back on the author’s claims regarding blackface.

Since then, those outraged by Deadspin have repeatedly called on the family to sue both the outlet and Phillips.

A letter obtained by NewsNation now shows that Armenta’s parents, Shannon and Raul, have hired a legal team that is ordering Deadspin and Phillips to issue a retraction.

“These articles, posts on X and photos about Holden and his parents must be retracted immediately,” the letter reads. “It is not enough to quietly remove a tweet from X or disable the article from Deadspin’s website. You must publish your retractions and issue an apology to my clients with the same prominence and fanfare with which you defamed them.”

Shannon has also claimed on social media that Armenta is of Native American descent.

“He is Native American — just stop already,” she said on Facebook.

The tribe the family is affiliated with said it condemns the wearing of regalia.

“As a federally recognized tribe, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians does not endorse wearing regalia as part of a costume or participating in any other type of cultural appropriation,” it wrote in a statement.

Prior to the legal threats, Phillips defended his reporting against the backlash.

“For the idiots in my mentions who are treating this as some harmless act because the other side of his face was painted red, I could make the argument that it makes it even worse,” Phillips said in a now-deleted tweet. “Y’all are the ones who hate Mexicans but wear sombreros on Cinco.”

Neither Deadspin nor Phillips have commented on the letter demanding a retraction.

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*First Published: Dec 4, 2023, 12:55 pm CST