The Aussie cartoonist at the centre of an international firestorm over a ‘racist’ depiction of Serena Williams says his wife and daughter have been targeted with death threats.
Mark Knight of Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper sparked a massive uproar on Monday when he posted his cartoon on Twitter.
IS THIS RACIST? Why America is so furious with Serena Williams cartoon
The cartoon depicts Serena’s confrontation with umpire Carlos Ramos during the US Open final, showing the tennis superstar destroying her racquet with a child’s dummy lying on the ground next to her.
Many were quick to slam Knight’s cartoon as ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’, and the Aussie has now revealed the shocking fallout from his controversial drawing.
Knight told 7News on Tuesday night that his wife and daughter had received online death threats over the saga.
In reiterating his defence that he was simply trying to depict the tennis superstar’s tantrum, Knight said it’s unfair to label his work racist.
“I don’t know how you draw an African-American person without making them look like an African-American person,” he said.
“Serena is a powerfully-built person.”
Herald Sun’s defiant response to cartoon controversy
The Herald Sun has responded to critics with an extraordinary front page on Wednesday.
After coming out in support of Knight on Tuesday, they printed a defiant cover with the headline “Welcome to PC World”.
Wednesday’s cover featured several of Knight’s cartoons, alongside reasons why they might also have been considered offensive.
“If the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be very dull indeed,” the subhead reads.
‘The world has gone crazy’
Earlier on Tuesday Knight said his cartoon 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.
“It’s been picked up by social media in the US and my phone has just melted down.
“The world has just gone crazy.”
Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston also defended the cartoon.
“A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that,” Johnston said.
“It had nothing to do with gender or race.”
‘Repugnant on many levels’
However the National Association of Black Journalists condemned the cartoon for it’s ‘unnecessarily sambo-like’ depiction – a racist term for an African American.
“The racist cartoon of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka by Mark Knight of the Herald Sun is repugnant on many levels,” the NABJ said.
“The Sept. 10 cartoon not only exudes racist, sexist caricatures of both women, but Williams’ depiction is unnecessarily sambo-like.
“The art of editorial cartooning is a visual dialogue on the issues of the day, yet this cartoon grossly inaccurately depicts two women of colour at the US Open, one of the grandest stages of professional sports.”