A young Kansas City Chiefs fan who was called out by a sports reporter for wearing red and black face paint with a Native headdress during a game is speaking out about the controversy, saying he is Native American.
Holden Armenta and his father Bubba exclusively joined “Jesse Watters Primetime” on Wednesday to respond to Deadspin reporter Carron J. Phillips accusing the 9-year-old of wearing “blackface” and finding a way to “hate Black people and the Native Americans at the same time.”
Phillips initially shared a photo of the young boy with only half of his face covered in black paint before additional photos surfaced that showed Holden wearing half red and half black paint on his face.
The Armenta family said they are part of the Chumash tribe, hailing from California, and used to live on a reservation.
“We never in any way, shape or form meant to disrespect any Native Americans or any tribes. The tribe we’re from doesn’t even wear that type of headdress. This specific headdress is a novelty piece. It’s a costume piece,” said the elder Armenta Wednesday on “Jesse Watters Primetime.” “That’s exactly what we had purchased it for and wore it for–not in any disrespect towards any Native Americans at all.”
Phillips continued to double down on his “blackface” allegations even claiming he could argue that the red paint on Holden’s face “makes it even worse.”
In a now-deleted post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the reporter wrote, “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. Ya’ll are the ones who hate Mexicans but wear sombreros on cinco.”
Holden said the reaction to what he was wearing during the Nov. 26 game against the Raiders was starting to make him “a little nervous.” “Because if they go a little bit overboard, it’s a little scary,” he said.
His dad added that the little boy was “upset” and “pretty devastated” when he found out about Phillips’ “blackface” claims.
Bubba said it’s “a little too late” for an apology from the Deadspin reporter because the “damage is already done.”
“It’s, you know, worldwide. Now, there’s comments all over. There’s, you know, disrespect towards Native Americans and towards my family,” he said.
“It’s been a whirlwind of comments coming even from other tribes, from tribal members. Some think it’s OK. Some think it’s not OK. It’s a 9-year-old boy supporting his team.”
Holden said it feels “pretty good” to know that Chiefs fans will reportedly wear black and red face paint in support of him at the next game.