Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Dora Pope

Australian Cartoonist Savaged for 'Racist' Cartoon of Serena Williams Meltdown

Australian Cartoonist Savaged for 'Racist' Cartoon of Serena Williams Meltdown

An Australian newspaper defiantly republished a controversial cartoon of tennis star Serena Williams on its front-page Wednesday, slapping aside "politically correct" accusations that the drawing was racist and sexist. This doesn't mean you can't ever draw Serena or people of colour without being labelled a racist, when there are plenty of non-racist cartoons and comics depicting black people, from the "Judgment Day" story in EC's Incredible Science Fiction, to Black Panther, to Real Deal Comix to Fat Albert.

He said the reaction showed the world "has just gone crazy" and insisted he was simply illustrating her behaviour on the day.

The Herald Sun defended the drawing of their artist Mark Knight, which had Williams leaping over her broken racket with a baby's dummy next to it.

The cartoon also shows Naomi Osaka, a dark-skinned Japanese woman, as a white blonde.

Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston tweeted an image overnight of today's provocative front page.

Yesterday, the Herald Sun used its entire front cover to try and defend the cartoon, suggesting those who objected to it were PC and are all out to make our lives "very tiresome indeed". The cartoon references racist visual tropes (the thick lipped "Sambo" or "Coon") in an uncritical way, which is why so many people are justly offended.

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'I drew her as an African-American woman, she's powerfully built, she wears these outrageous costumes when she plays tennis - she's interesting to draw. He also said his wife and children were subjected to threats on their Instagram pages as a result of the cartoon. The moment was a clear instance of sexism, racism and double standards, but the Sydney Morning Herald mocked Williams with the image below, which was drawn by Mark Knight.

The New York Times wrote that the cartoon reflected a "wider pattern" of ignorance from Australians around race issues, saying the conversations in Australia were not as "robust and layered" as in the US.

Still, Knight has come under withering criticism over the cartoon with many calling the thick-lipped facial features a "mammy character" and "racist". "All he has done as cartoonists do is tell the truth".

Journalist Winnie Ngozi Okocha said: "I don't want to flatten every black woman's experience to make out that we have one identical story".

In 2016, Bill Leak was slammed for a cartoon that implied Indigenous fathers were alcoholics, poor parents and irresponsible, again painting a whole culture with historic and hurtful race-based stereotypes.

Williams is one of a small number of black female tennis players and is the most frequently drug-tested professional woman in the sport. "For me to say "thief", and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark", she said, arguing that male athletes can and have said worse without receiving penalties.

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