June 17, 2024

Cartoonist defends his racist depiction of Serena Williams and fails

Serena Williams thegrio.com AP
FILE – In this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, file photo, Serena Williams, right, talks with referee Brian Earley during the women’s final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament against Naomi Osaka, of Japan, in New York. Some black women say Serena Williams’ experience at the U.S. Open final resonates with them. They say they are often forced to watch their tone and words in the workplace in ways that men and other women are not. Otherwise, they say, they risk being branded an “Angry Black Woman.” (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)

The Herald Sun, the Australian newspaper whose racist caricature of Serena Williams set off shockwaves around the world, insists that not only is the clearly racist drawing is not racist, but that people pointing out the obvious historical connections between that drawing and the Little Black Sambo cartoons from a century ago, are simply “making it up.”

Mark Knight, the cartoonist who drew the racist cartoon, said the online hate he received was “unfair” and claims that as the cartoon was about Williams’ argument with the line umpire during her the U.S. Open final loss to Naomi Osaka.

“I drew this cartoon Sunday night after seeing the US Open final and seeing the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum and thought that was interesting,” Knight said in an online response to the backlash posted on the newspaper’s site. “The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behavior on the day, not about race. The world has just gone crazy.”

Other cartoons by Knight have been circulated on social media in recent days showing that this was far from a one-off occurrence.

The Herald Sun, which is owned by News Corp (the media conglomerate that owns Fox News), doubled down on defending the racist cartoon. Herald Sun editor Mark Johnston tweeted that Knight has the “full support” of the paper.

The cartoon shows Williams drawn as hulking, muscular, with big-lips and squinty eyes in a drawing that mirrored multitudes of the infamous Little Black Sambo cartoons of the minstrel shows of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Also problematic in the cartoon was the depiction of Osaka as being a blonde and, apparently, white woman.

History doesn’t lie.


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