Herald Sun Defends Racist Serena Williams Cartoon Amid Global Condemnation

The Herald Sun has defended a blatantly racist Mark Knight cartoon depicting Serena Williams‘ US Open final loss, saying that criticism of the image – and there has been a lot of criticism – is overblown.

[jwplayer RfLMYyUD]

For those who missed it:


In a piece published today, Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston said yesterday’s cartoon “had nothing to do with gender or race,” and simply depicted an exaggerated version of the 23-time Grand Slam champion reacting to the controversial code violations doled out during her loss to Naomi Osaka.

Knight added that criticism of the cartoon shows “the world has just gone crazy,” and that “the cartoon about Serena is about her poor behaviour on the day, not about race.”

Those statements come after widespread condemnation locally and further abroad. The Washington Post labelled the image explicitly racist, saying Knight’s depiction draws from a long visual history of “dehumanizing” caricatures of black Americans from the Jim Crow era.

In a statement, the National Association of Black Journalists said it was “repugnant on many levels” and that “Williams’ depiction is unnecessarily sambo-like,” referring to historically racist depictions of black people in a children’s book series.

Condemnation has also highlighted how Osaka, who is of Japanese and Haitian descent, could be construed as a blonde, white woman in the image.

Other cultural luminaries have expressed their disgust at the image, too. Nicki Minaj awarded Knight her Cocksucker Of The Day Award (which, yes, carries its own troubling insinuations) on her Beats 1 radio show, while figures including Ben Simmons, J.K. Rowling and Ron Perlman have damned the cartoon.


But here we are, with Knight’s content being defended in one of our nation’s most prominent newspapers. Wonderful.