First, some background: In May, fans of Guzman — who plays firefighter Eddie Diaz on the Fox drama — had uncovered tweets that his fiancée, Brazilian actress and model Chrysti Ane, posted in 2011 in which she used the N-word. (Ane has since issued a formal apology for the tweets, explaining that she was dating a Black man at the time and felt accepted by the Black community during their relationship, but she “didn’t fully comprehend the weight of the word” in the past.)
On Sunday, Guzman defended both his fiancée and himself in an Instagram Live, adding that he and his friends of other ethnicities “call each other slurs all the time.”
“I have plenty of friends — Black, white, Asian, Indian, whatever they are, Korean — and we make fun of each other’s races all the time. We call each other slurs all the time,” Guzman stated. “We don’t get butthurt at all because we know the actual person, we know who each other are. We know that we’re not trying to bring each other down. So, what are y’all trying to get at? You’re trying to prove that somebody that’s not racist is racist? Nah. You don’t have that power. There is no racist energy coming from this household at all.”
Meanwhile, during Guzman’s Instagram video, some of his followers posted comments such as, “THERE IS NO N WORD PASS” and “Ryan, please… that’s not okay.” The actor later posted a tweet that read, “I’m done with defending myself or my family to people who are as quick to judge as they are to condemn. Let me get back to the real topic and help out any way I can to the black community.”
Two hours after Guzman’s tweet, Stark (who co-stars as “9-1-1″‘s Buck) posted his own response, denouncing his co-star’s behavior: “I know a lot of you want to hear my thoughts on what a cast member said today on IG live. I can tell you that my opinion is there is absolutely no excuse for the use of the N-word. It belongs to the Black community only and I absolutely don’t agree with it being used by anyone else under any circumstances.”
TVLine has reached out to Fox for comment.
UPDATE: Guzman’s co-star Aisha Hinds, who plays firefighter Hen, also addressed Guzman’s comments. “How I FEEL daily is a perpetual state of GRIEF. There’s sadly no version of this indefensible discourse that doesn’t exacerbate that grief,” she shared in a tweet on Monday. “There’s legions of learned behaviors that need to be named and neutered so we don’t continue to give life to them. May we know & DO BETTER.”
The backlash comes amid ongoing global protests against systemic racism and police brutality, sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in Minneapolis in May after a police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while arresting him. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.