On September 8th, tennis fans around the world watched in shock as Serena Williams appeared to receive blatantly sexist treatment from a male umpire at the U.S. Open finals. Williams ultimately lost the match, and rising Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka was left in tears as the audience booed while she stood atop the winner’s podium. Williams has since been forced to defend her (rightful) outrage at the umpire’s sexist calls—and has even been backed up by several male tennis pros who say they’ve behaved the same way on the court without penalty.
However, it looks like there are still factions out there belittling William’s justified anger during the match—the most recent being an Australian newspaper called the Herald Sun, which featured an outright racist and offensive cartoon about the incident.
Mark Knight, who is the editorial cartoonist for the paper, proudly tweeted an image of the comic this morning, September 10th. Knight’s drawing depicts a caricature of Williams breaking her racquet and jumping up and down in a fit of rage. A baby’s pacifier lays on the ground beside her, and her face is distorted into a racist stereotype reminiscent of Jim Crow-era artwork (HelloGiggles has decided not to reprint the cartoon here).
Twitter users were quick to point out the implicit racism in Knight’s comic, making comparisons between the drawing and the depiction of black Americans in minstrel shows under Jim Crow.
The racism in the comic doesn’t stop with Williams, though. Several Twitter users pointed out that Osaka, who is of Japanese and Haitian descent, appears to have been whitewashed in the drawing. In the background of the comic, she appears with light skin and straight, blonde hair.
HuffPost noted that Knight’s editorial cartoons have been criticized for racism and sexism in the past. In response to the backlash against his U.S. Open comic, Knight defended his drawing.
The Herald Sun, which is based in Melbourne, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who famously also owns Fox News.
Representation matters, and there’s simply no place for racist and stereotypical portrayals of people of color in 2018. We need to do better.