Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian – the husband of Serena Williams – has broken the family’s silence on the cartoon that sparked outrage around the world.
Mark Knight’s now infamous Herald Sun newspaper illustration has been slammed around the world, with many labelling it blatantly racist.
The 23-time grand slam champion, Williams, is yet to give her take on the matter that has been polarising opinion.
However, in a passionate defence of his wife on social media, Ohanian has hit out at the Australian newspaper behind the controversial cartoon.
“I am truly perplexed to learn this editor of the Australian newspaper behind the blatantly racist and misogynistic cartoon of my wife is a ‘Male Champion of Change.’ Is this supposed to be satire, too?”
I am truly perplexed to learn this editor of the Australian newspaper behind the blatantly racist & misogynistic cartoon of my wife is a “Male Champion of Change” 🤔 Is this supposed to be satire, too? @malechampions @LizBroderick https://t.co/QAq25HAhTo https://t.co/jOuYojCE3P
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. 🚀 (@alexisohanian) September 13, 2018
The Herald Sun were savaged over the original cartoon but sensationally doubled-down with a follow-up cartoon hitting out at their critics.
Many labelled the cartoon “racist” and “sexist.” accusing Knight of using derogatory imagery of African American people.
But Knight says it had nothing to do with race or gender.
“I drew this cartoon Sunday night after seeing the US Open final, and seeing the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum and thought that was interesting,” he told the Herald Sun on Tuesday.
“It’s been picked up by social media in the US and my phone has just melted down.
“The world has just gone crazy.”
Knight said his cartoon was simply about Serena’s poor behaviour.
“Three days before I had drawn a cartoon about Nick Kyrgios being led off by the ears, like you used to do with your children,” he said.
“The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behaviour on the day, not about race.”
However, an American professor revealed why the US reacted so angrily to the cartoon and why Knight missed the point.
Dr Jason Johnson – the professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University – says Knight’s depiction of Serena as a “brooding, big-lipped, almost ape-like” figure was unnecessary.
“If the cartoon was purely about bad behaviour I don’t see why she had to be depicted the way she was. You can have her jumping up and down, whining, crying, whatever — that’s typical for sport … you can depict people as sore losers,” Dr Johnson told 3AW Radio.
“But to depict her in this large, brooding way — even for a cartoonist — is reminiscent about (how) black women in America and black women’s bodies (have been racially portrayed in the past) — especially in comparison to Naomi Osaka who in the back corner is drawn as this lithe, possibly white, looking woman.
“I understand Mark Knight is Australian, consequently his understanding of racial depictions might not be the same as they are in the United States, but I also think as a cartoonist who is writing about an international incident and international figure, I don’t buy that he was completely oblivious to how his work would be perceived either.
“There is a long history in the United States and abroad of depicting African-Americans as less than human. Certainly black women as being broodish and certainly not in any shape, way or form feminine.”