Veteran cartoonist Mark Knight has rejected suggestions his depiction of Serena Williams is “racist”, saying those condemning him are “making stuff up”.
The cartoon, published in the Herald Sun, was Mr Knight’s take on the controversial US Open final, which Ms Williams lost to Japan’s Naomi Osaka after being given three penalty points — one for coaching, one for breaking her racquet and another for verbal abuse of the chair umpire.
Ms Williams’ behaviour has divided onlookers, with some saying she was out of line and others believing she was the victim of overzealous or discriminatory officiating.
Mr Knight’s cartoon shows Williams stamping on her racquet with a dummy on the ground and the umpire telling Osaka, “Can you just let her win?”.
— Mark Knight (@Knightcartoons) September 10, 2018
Mr Knight said his cartoon was only about Williams’ behaviour on the court and said those suggesting it was racist or sexist were misinterpreting it. “I saw the world number one tennis player have a huge hissy fit and spit the dummy.
That’s what the cartoon was about, her poor behaviour on the court,” he said.
“I’m not targeting Serena. I mean, Serena is a champion. “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. I drew her as she is, as an African-American woman.
“So, this whole business that I’m some sort of racist, calling on racial cartoons from the past, it’s just made up. It’s not there.”
“I find on social media that stuff gets shared around, and it’s like a sort of rolling thunder. It’s like a hurricane. It develops intensity way beyond its initial meaning,” he said.
“I think racial tensions in America are, of course, more heightened than here in Australia. And Americans may look at it in a different light. “No racial historical significance should be read into it.”
Reactions continue to build
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. https://t.co/YOxVMuTXEC
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 10, 2018
This small boy doesn’t realise he’s drawn a cartoon that will be studied and shown for generations after Serena retires for encapsulating the hostile misogynoir she endured from an insecure white gaze uncomfortable with her greatness. Even his erasure of Naomi Osaka is perfect. https://t.co/xgDFrURx3B
— SymeonBrown (@symeonbrown) September 10, 2018
Holy crap. This Serena cartoon is racist AF & reminiscent Jack Johnson cartoons in 1910. Mark Knight should be fired. But any Herald Sun editors that would allow this, should fire themselves first. https://t.co/Usgd7pWH8b
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) September 10, 2018
Whatever you think of the Serena Williams situation, I think we can all agree that this cartoon is disgusting. Erasing Naomi Osaka’s blackness alongside a grossly racialised caricature of Serena, invoking racist stereotypes, is obscene. https://t.co/Z09T7rt5tt
— Anna Kessel (@Anna_Kessel) September 10, 2018
Criticism of Mark Knight’s Serena Williams cartoon shows the world has gone too PC & misunderstands the role of news media cartoons and satire. Poor behaviour in any sport needs to be called out. #media #cartoons #markknight @Knightcartoons @theheraldsun https://t.co/KQFuvIJp0Q pic.twitter.com/sRo3AQ1cJW
— Michael Miller (@mm_newscorpaus) September 10, 2018
Let’s be real about this cartoon from an Australian male. He’s placed emphasis on making Serena larger, uglier and brutish. Osako on the other hand, Anglo, slim and attractive. Don’t tell me this isn’t anything but racist and sexist. pic.twitter.com/JawauD8hyI
— JAGS (@JamesAGSaunders) September 10, 2018
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) September 11, 2018
Do you think it has racist undertones?
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