A cartoonist for News Corp’s Aussie tabloid the Herald Sun drew a racist cartoon of Serena Williams on 10 September. The reason it’s racist is because it uses tropes that were historically used by racists in racist cartoons – tropes like:
- Black women with masculine physiques.
- Black people with exaggerated, animal-like features.
- Black people being angry/unstable.
The cartoonist responded by saying:
You can’t expect me – a professional cartoonist – to know anything about the history of cartoons.
"It's a cartoon about poor behaviour. It's nothing to do with race."
Mark Knight responds to the international condemnation he's copped as a result of yesterday's Serena Williams cartoon.
More online soon. pic.twitter.com/IhDjn0uEJL
— 3AW Melbourne (@3AW693) September 10, 2018
The counter argument is that someone who works with things like symbolism, cartoons, and politics should know something – especially if they’re getting paid for their work. Not knowing is like trying to become a guitarist without learning about tuning. You could, but who would pay to listen to the hideous noise you produced?
The Herald Sun editor took the defence further, claiming that:
Before all this happened, we never even knew what racism was. It’s really not fair to expect us – as people in the information industry – to be widely informed.
And anyway, what’s next? You want to ban racist cartoons today – will it be non-racist cartoons tomorrow?
It was explained that ‘no one is saying non-racist cartoons should be banned – primarily because they’re not racist’. The editor shouted in response:
You said ‘non-racist cartoons should be banned’ – I’m printing that!
It goes higher
The Herald Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. A spokesperson from the evil news conglomerate claimed:
You can’t expect us – as the people who own Fox News and The Sun – to know what is or isn’t racist. It’s not like we get people contacting us on a daily basis to shout ‘THIS IS RACIST – WHY DO YOU KEEP PUTTING THIS SHIT OUT!?’. You’re really not being fair.
So yes – how could any of the numerous people involved in publishing this cartoon have known?
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
We’re a thorn in the side of the establishment, but we can’t do it without your help
Your fight is our fight. But as many of you will know, speaking truth to power has never been easy, especially for a small, independent media outlet such as the Canary. We have weathered many attempts to silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media. Now more than ever, we need your support.
We don’t have fancy offices, and our entire staff works remotely. Almost all of our income is spent on paying the people who make the Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our team and enables us to continue to do what we do: disrupt power, and amplify people.
But we can’t do this without you. So please, if you appreciate our work, can you help us continue the fight?