Greg Allen / Invision / AP
Nearly six months after a cartoon mocking Serena Williams sparked an immediate international reprimand, critics calling him "racist" of the sports star, the Australian Press Council took the floor Monday to defend the image.
The cartoon, published last September in the Australian newspaper The sun herald After the stinging US Open defeat against Serena Williams against Japan's Naomi Osaka, Williams is angry and banging on her tennis racket. The referee is pictured asking Osaka: "Can you just let her win?"
The Council stated that the drawing "uses exaggeration and absurdity to argue its point of view, but accepts the statement of the editor that he does not represent Ms. Williams as a monkey, but more like a "spitting dummy", a non-racist caricature well known to most Australian readers. "(A" dummy "is an Australian term for a lollipop lying next to Williams' racquet at ground.)
The Council, a monitoring group charged with promoting Australia's standards of good media practice, said "accept that the caricature was illustrated in response to events at the US Open finals".
On September 8, 2018, Williams competed in the Grand Slam final against a 16-year-old opponent, while in the second set, the chair umpire determined that Williams coached her from the bench. touch and called for a code violation.
Williams protested. "I do not cheat to win," she told the referee, Carlos Ramos. "I would rather lose."
As the game went on and Williams became more and more frustrated, she put her racket on the field, folding it. It was his second violation and Osaka automatically scored a point.
Visibly upset, Williams then confronted Ramos and demanded an apology, calling him a "liar" and "thief."
"You will never, ever, be in any other land of mine as long as you live," she told him. Williams received a third code violation.
Osaka eventually won – becoming the first Japanese player to win the Grand Slam title – but joy was there in a match where both players were in tears at the points and the crowd taunting the trophy. Williams was fined $ 17,000.
Williams, who has won nearly two dozen Grand Slam titles, and his defenders have highlighted what they saw as a double standard, where male players could apologize on the pitch and invite female players to play. call. The Williams coach later stated that he was trying to guide her aside, but that it was a common practice rarely penalized.
London-based writer Tobi Oredein told Rachel Martin of NPR that what happened was not just about sexism, but about racism as well.
"At the heart of the" misogyny "- because it only concerns black women – is a caricature of the black woman angry," she said. "And it dehumanizes us and prevents us from showing our emotions."
Bravo to reduce one of the biggest sporting racist and sexist tropes and turn a second big sports into a faceless accessory. https://t.co/YOxVMuTXEC
– J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 10, 2018
Mark Knight, author of the cartoon, told The Herald Sun that he had been inspired by the drawing when he saw "the best tennis player in the world poking a fit and finding it interesting".
The sun herald Knight is held alongside Knight, although critics have argued that the stereotypical representations contained in the drawing are inescapable.
The National Association of Black Journalists described the caricature as "disgusting on many levels." The caricature of September 10 not only evokes racist and sexist caricatures of the two women, but Williams' description unnecessarily resembles a sambo ", making reference to Jim Crow's racist cartoons. popularized in the 19th century.
Knight defended his rendering of Williams. "I drew her as an African-American woman," he said in a video posted on the Herald Sun website. "She is powerfully built, she wears these outrageous costumes when she plays tennis, she is interesting to draw."
"This whole affair for which I am a kind of racist invoking racial cartoons of the past, it's just invented," Knight said. "The drawing was talking about his behavior that day."
Knight said that he had to suspend his Twitter account because of the attacks he had suffered after the cartoon's release.
He has also been criticized for his interpretation of Osaka. Oredein said that he "laundered" the player, of Japanese and Haitian descent. Osaka "was considered heroic, good and in its place," said Oredein. "And she had blond hair and they were straight."
In its decision, the Australian Press Council said that it had considered complaints about the way women were represented and "that the drawing should be viewed in the context of the history of cartoons based on the race and racist historical representations of African-Americans ".
Nevertheless, the Council stated that the publication did not fail to "take reasonable steps to avoid causing substantial injury, distress or harm, without sufficient justification in the public interest" and thus did not violate the standards. of practice of the Council.
Oredein said that cartooning embodies a larger problem in the industry, "that black women and their talents, especially in sport, are treated with suspicion".