According to Australian newspaper The Herald Sun and its cartoonist, Mark Knight, a cartoon of Serena Williams that echoes the harmful caricatures of black men and women once drawn in a shameful part of USA history isn’t racist.
Her opponent, who is Japanese with Haitian heritage, is pictured as white, blonde, and tiny in comparison to Williams.
The tagline reads: “If the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be very tiresome indeed”.
For the second time in a month, Australian cartoonist Mark Knight of Melbourne’s Herald Sun is coming under fire for how he renders black people. “The cartoon is about Serena, it was about her poor behaviour”.
The cartoonist said on Tuesday that “the world has just gone crazy”, telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation it “was just about Serena on the day having a tantrum”.
Williams, who has since been fined $17,000 by the United States Tennis Association for the violations, vigorously disputed each of them during the match.
JK Rowling is among those who criticised the drawing by Mark Knight but the paper has doubled-down. “And I think for Ramos, he was a little defensive at that point, and was fed up as opposed to saying, ‘OK, let’s get back to business'”.
This is The Herald Sun’s shocking front page on Wednesday which complains about the global outrage over its Serena Williams cartoon.
Serena Williams was warned and then penalised by match umpire Carlos Ramos during the weekend US Open women’s final – including a code violation after her coach was identified giving instruction from the sidelines, a point penalty for smashing her racquet and a game docked for abusing the umpire.
Williams is one of a small number of black female tennis players and is the most frequently drug-tested professional woman in the sport.
He added: “I’m not going to say I’m not going to draw that because it’s a no-go area”. “That’s what the cartoon was about, her poor behaviour on the court”, he said.
“A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that”, Herald editor Damon Johnston wrote in a statement. “This classic Jim Crow era sexist/racist image does nothing but display the complete disrespect of the superstar and perpetuate the stereotype of an “angry black woman” I am appalled”, wrote Jevin Hodge, the vice-chair of the Arizona Democratic Party. “Regardless of whether that was the cartoonist’s intention, [racist caricatures are] an important frame through which many people will understand the image – and I find it very hard to believe that Knight would not be aware of those connotations”, says Dr Tom Davies, senior lecturer in American History at the University of Sussex.
“I drew her as this powerful figure, which she is, she’s strongly built”.