Serena Williams cartoon uses 'racist iconography' says chair of Black British Business Awards

Julia and Melanie

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The chair of the Black British Business Awards has clashed with Julia Hartley-Brewer after claiming a controversial cartoon depicting Serena Williams having a tantrum on the tennis court features "racist iconography" that "can't be ignored".

Speaking on the breakfast show, Melanie Eusebe said she thought the caricature by Australian cartoonist Mark Knight made the famous tennis player look "sub-primal".

"It drew away from the actual point that she was having a tantrum on stage. It was all about the black iconography that we've seen over the years. Cartoonists draw on historical precepts to be able to attribute to their creativity. If you're not aware of black iconography and you mimic it again... he knew exactly where he was going. 


'Racist iconography'

"There is racist iconography that is threaded throughout the picture that can't be ignored. Just in terms of her features, the extremeness of her features, almost being made sub-primal."

When asked by Julia Hartley-Brewer if it would have been better for the cartoonist to draw Serena Williams "as a white woman", Ms Eusebe said: "Of course not. It's creative license and he took creative license and went to the nth degree. He went over, above and beyond. He is a cartoonist so let him do what he does, but he over emphasised the black sub-primal nature, that's what he did, in drawing Serena and he did not apply that across the board."

Mr Knight appeared on ABC News defending the cartoon, saying: "I saw the world number one tennis player have a huge hissy fit and spit the dummy. That's what the cartoon was about, her poor behaviour on the court. I'm not targeting Serena. I mean, Serena is a champion."

The cartoonist has since deactivated his Twitter account following public backlash over the drawing.