Recently Trek Bikes has found themselves in an unsavory position on social media for supplying bikes to many municipal police departments highlighted in media coverage during the ongoing protest and riots across the country. The backlash has intensified following recent tweets by 19-year-old Trek-Segafredo rider Quinn Simmons.
On Wednesday, Simmons replied “Bye (with a waving brown hand emoji)” to a tweet by Cyclingtips.com contributor Jose Been who said, “My dear American friends, I hope this horrible presidency ends for you. And for us as (former?) allies too. If you follow me and support Trump, you can go. There is no excuse to follow or vote for the vile, horrible man.”
There was an immediate backlash on Twitter bringing attention to the the 2019 Junior World Champion’s response by many including @Pflax1 who notably took a screenshot of the original conversation.
Following the response on social media Trek-Segafredo released a statement.
“Trek-Segafredo is an organization that values inclusivity and supports a more diverse and equitable sport for all athetes. While we support the right to free speech, we will hold peopl accountable for theri words and actions.
“Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport.
“In response, he will not be racing for Trek-Segafredo until further notice.”
Seemingly the Trek Segafredo’s response only pushed Trek into further disdain of many.
The use of the emoji has been equated to “Internet blackface” by Caley Fretz on Cyclingtips.com. The most popular result for internet blackface on Google refers to a Teenvogue.com article with, Dictionary.com describing “digital blackface” as “white people using GIFs, memes, emoji, and other images of black people to express various emotional reactions online.”
UPDATE: TREK-SEGAFREDO/ QUINN SIMMONS JOINT STATEMENT
Thursday morning, Simmons released this statement in regards to the controversy: “As an American rider, I have always, been proud to represent my country. Riding for an American team has been a lifelong dream. A big reason I chose this team was because of the American values behind it.
“To those who found the color of the emoji racist, I can promise that I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way. I would like to apologize to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form.
“To anyone who disagrees with me politically, that is fine. I won’t hate you for it. I only ask the same.”
Mixed responses continue to be made including those in support of the team’s decision as well as for Simmons.
@mtnhi93 seems a bit confused about the situation but makes it clear they won’t be purchasing a Trek anytime soon.
Follow Trek-Segafredo on Twitter at @treksegafredo