The 148th annual Kentucky Derby, the yearly horse race that attracts the who's who of American society and culture, was held this past weekend. And like always, several stars got dolled up in their most elegant Sunday best to make a splash at the annual event.
Among them was rapper Jack Harlow, still riding the wave of his fittingly titled smash hit "First Class," who took to the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky looking dapper as ever in a slim white suit and immaculate black shoes.
But the outfit was quickly overshadowed by the efforts to maintain those shoes' cleanliness. A video showing a group of Black men carrying Harlow over the venue's dirt to keep his shoes clean left many people uncomfortable over its very awkward optics.
See the video the Kentucky Derby posted to Twitter and TikTok below.
The men who carried Harlow are reportedly part of his security team, and they appear to have been smiling and jovial while helping their boss keep his shoes clean.
Nonetheless, the optics of the official Kentucky Derby accounts sharing the video are... well, a bit cringe, depending on how you think about it.
This is, of course, the American South, which comes with a history of racial segregation and slavery from which the Kentucky Derby and the horse-racing sport and industry in general is not exempt.
While audiences of events like the Kentucky Derby were almost exclusively White at their post-Civil War inception, horse-racing in the United States was mostly a Black sport until Jim Crow laws pushed Black people out.
They still remain underrepresented in the sport to this day.
Roll it all together and the video of a rich, privileged White rapper being carried over the mud by a retinue of Black employees at a Southern event with a history of racist oppression being shared by that venue's official social media accounts conjured up some truly uncomfortable and retrograde images for many people.
And they took to social media to voice their discomfort and frustration.
On Instagram, Harlow's flex was no better received.
The Kentucky Derby and Harlow's PR teams should probably be in a bit of a scramble at the moment.
Perhaps they could start by checking out some history to appreciate why this look wasn't it for many people.