Culture&Arts

Serena Williams: Mark Knight defends ‘racist’ cartoon of tennis champ

Serena Williams: Mark Knight defends ‘racist’ cartoon of tennis champ

A newspaper stand displays the Herald Sun newspaper, featuring a controversial cartoon of Serena Williams, in Melbourne September 12, 2018.

The image triggered widespread allegations of racism against illustrator Mark Knight.

On pulling down his account amidst uproar on Twitter, Knight revealed that he did it to protect his family from the abuse.

"Welcome to PC World", the headline reads, accompanied by a "Satire Free Zone" stamp in the foreground.

Mark Knight's interpretation of Serena Williams.

Today it ran the cartoon again, this time on the front cover, along with depictions of more public figures, with commentary alongside each one about why "self-appointed censors" might not want to see them.

Australia has a serious racism problem.

Columnist at The Root, Michael Harriot published a scathing op-ed. I saw nothing abusive or malicious. "Which is racist and sexist".

"What we have is a bunch of people who get paid to publicly exercise their implied freedom to speech then whining when people disagree with what they have had the privilege of being paid to say", she added. "It had nothing to do with gender or race", the seasoned cartoonist explained in a video for the paper.

Australian cartoonist Paul Zanetti weighed in saying it was the job of cartoonists to call out bad behaviour and not fall prey to an increasingly politically correct culture.

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"Let's get some perspective. Whatever PR spinners do, we do the opposite", he wrote for news.com.au.

Knight's cartoon in response to Williams on-court and off-court antics quickly came under fire from Chicago sports radio host Julie DiCaro.

"When I drew that cartoon, I wasn't thinking of racial politics in America". How dare you insinuate I was cheating? He's had death threats.

"Now you have the whole world, 80 million people piling on you". Which is precisely what that cartoon does. She did not stomp on her racket during the match as the cartoon portrayed.

A copy of the Herald Sun (left) depicting the cartoon of Serena Williams.

He told News Corp-owned Sky News: "When you caricature somebody you take their facial features and you emphasise them".

Among the complaints were that the cartoon was reminiscent of Jim Crow-era representations of black women.

"Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop", the author tweeted on Monday.

Among their celebrity critics is Nicki Minaj, J.K. Rowling, Kathy Griffin.

So, this is an image that captures the white fear that gave us Donald Trump, a man, it can be argued, who also represents the last throes of a society premised on white privilege and white supremacy. But unfortunately the cartoon has been I guess picked up and distorted.


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