Dunning-Krueger, only for racists


Racists don’t know they’re racist, I guess, which is how they can deny racism when it’s right there in their face. Like this cartoon:

That caricature is racist as fuck. It’s not something you can reasonably argue over — there is no debate. It’s done. You can’t draw a black woman that way, in a way that doesn’t even vaguely resemble Serena Williams, except to make a racist point. It looks like something from the 1930s or earlier.

“It had nothing to do with gender or race,” the artist says. Bullshit, says I. He also claims to be completely unaware of the history of racist caricatures, so how was he to know? He’s a cartoonist, that’s how. He’s so completely uninterested in his craft that he never, ever studied cartoons from the past?

Michael Harriot has a few words to say about that.

And not only does Knight’s drawing portray Serena with undertones of classic racial stereotypes, including the apelike stance and oversized pink lips reminiscent of the coon caricature and Sambo cartoons, but he included a pacifier in the drawing, presumably to indicate Serena’s childish actions. You’d never know, from this cartoon, that Naomi Osaka is actually two inches taller than Williams.

It is also revealing that Knight chose to illustrate Osaka as a blonde, fair-skinned damn-near white woman whose complexion is the same as the umpire’s. Unintentional or not, the juxtaposition is clear: Naomi is the quiet, questioning protagonist who, along with the genteel official, is opposed by the brooding behemoth, Serena Williams.

It’s stunning how many people are trying to argue that the cartoon isn’t racist. Damn. Racist is as racist does. It doesn’t have to have the n-word scrawled in sharpie across the cartoon to be racist.

Harriot has a few things to say about American Republicans, too.

  • 52 percent of voters who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election believed blacks are “less evolved” than whites, according to researchers at the Kellog School of Management.
  • In a 2018 YouGov poll, 59 percent of Republicans agreed: “If blacks would only try harder, they would be as well off as whites.”
  • The same YouGov poll revealed that 59 percent of self-identified Republicans believe blacks are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.
  • 70 percent of Republicans agreed that increased diversity hurts whites.
  • Republican-appointed judges give black defendants longer jail sentences, according to a Harvard study released in May.
  • 55 percent of white Republicans agreed “blacks have worse jobs, income and housing than white people” because “most just don’t have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up out of poverty” according to the Washington Post’s review of data from the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center.
  • Nearly twice as many Republicans than Democrats (42 percent versus 24 percent) believe that blacks are lazier than whites, according to the same NORC poll.

Every single one of those opinions are racist as fuck, too. The white people of America are a mob of racists, and the most racist of us gravitate to the Republican party, where they are welcomed with open arms.

What do Australia and the United States have in common? A history of displacing native peoples and justifying it by the claimed intrinsic superiority of the colonizers. Here’s a good summary from an Australian professor.

As Cheryl Harris wrote in her famous article Whiteness as Property, racial regimes based on the theft of native lands and the enslavement of black people produce an association between the fact of being white and the right of possession. Not only are white people given the legal right to take ownership of stolen land, but whiteness itself becomes property, having intrinsic value as a quality that only white people can possess. At the same time, under slavery, black people become property. The privileges that accrue as a result of being white come to be expected by white people so that any threat to their status or their reputation is perceived as illegitimate, particularly when it comes from the racially subjugated.

Both our countries are still dealing with that ugly history…or more accurately, failing to deal with it.

Comments

  1. seleukos says

    I don’t much care for sports, but I do care about cartoons and, although I’m not familiar with the particular artist’s work I’m flabbergasted by some of the criticisms which you reproduce uncritically.

    It is also revealing that Knight chose to illustrate Osaka as a blonde, fair-skinned damn-near white woman whose complexion is the same as the umpire’s.

    Is Michael Harriot colourblind? Are you? Osaka’s skin colour in this cartoon has the exact same RGB value as Serena’s skin colour. You can tell by eye (or at least I can), but if you doubt it then run the image through a graphics program to check it. As for the blonde hair, I didn’t watch the match but looking at photos if it, Osaka did have a blonde ponytail. What is that revealing of, exactly?

    You’d never know, from this cartoon, that Naomi Osaka is actually two inches taller than Williams.

    Has Michael Harriot ever heard of perspective?

    Unintentional or not, the juxtaposition is clear: Naomi is the quiet, questioning protagonist who, along with the genteel official, is opposed by the brooding behemoth, Serena Williams.

    Perspective bewilderment aside, from what I’ve seen from the previous thread and a couple of Guardian articles, I’d say that sounds about accurate, or at least good enough for a cartoonist.

    Sure, you can argue about the history of racial caricatures in the US, although I honestly don’t know how that applies to Australian traditions, but the image looks to me like Serena Williams with exaggerated features throwing a tantrum. Large mouth, pacifier on the ground, jumping up and down, this is how one could draw Trump six out of seven days of the week and no one would find it unusual.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    I image searched “serena williams caricature”.
    Most of them are recognisably Serena, some less flattering than others.
    Mark Knight’s looks nothing like Serena. It is rubbish as a caricature.

  3. seleukos says

    #2: That sounds interesting.

    #3: In how many of them is she throwing a tantrum? How would you draw her throwing a tantrum? If your response is “dignified”, then you’re a hagiographer, not a cartoonist. I suppose the lips could have been brown, and that counts against the cartoonist in the history of racism department, but other than that I don’t see how this is an unusual cartoon for the subject matter. Google search “tantrum caricature” and in half the cases you’ll find the same general features.

  4. Saad says

    seleukos, #5

    How would you draw her throwing a tantrum?

    Without the exaggerated size of her lips and nose, a common feature of old school racist caricature of black people by white fuckheads.

  5. akama1 says

    it gets worse, Saw the cover of the Herald sun today and they have double downed on it.
    https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/newspaper-doubles-down-with-front-page-response-to-serena-williams-cartoon-critics/news-story/71c6c1c9b496bac955c806d6ab5e9bc0

    The Cartoonist has a History of racist cartoons, of late focusing on Sudanese youth, but also in his portrail of indigenous Australians and other. But looking at a lot of the other columnists for the Herald Sun he fits in quite well.

    As an Australian i am ashamed at the number of Australians whom can not see why this is racist.

  6. anxionnat says

    Racism is like an onion: peel one layer off, then another, then another, and more. My mom, born in 1915, before she died said something very revealing to me. One of my sister’s friends had come over to play. Mom told me, “When I saw that little girl standing at the door, I didn’t see an eight-year-old child. I saw a little alien.” Many of my sister’s friend were Asian American, so mom, to her credit, realized she had to change her attitude. And so the onion layers peeled off. My older brother is blind and developmentally disabled. Mom started a support group for parents and kids. They met about every other week at local parks. The kids played and the parents talked, shared resources and the like. All the other parents and kids were African American. Mom was comfortable enough that all of the parents could laugh about white drivers driving by and looking at the group. Mom said she could see what these white people were thinking: “What’s that nice white lady doing with all those black people?” And more onion layers peeled off, particularly when her precious mixed grandchildren were born. Mom was an ordinary woman, but she looked deep inside herself and realized the harm that her racism was doing. She saw the onion layers peel off. Our family is the richer for my mom’s realizations.

  7. Ed Seedhouse says

    “Both our countries are still dealing with that ugly history…or more accurately, failing to deal with it.”

    Add Canada into that mix. My home on native land…

  8. raven says

    I put a question into Google, How much does tennis player _______ weigh?
    Naomi Osaka 152 lbs.
    Serena Williams 155 lbs.

    These two athletes are close to the same size.
    You wouldn’t know that from that cartoon.

  9. Ed Seedhouse says

    @1 “I’m flabbergasted by some of the criticisms which you reproduce uncritically.”
    I’m flabbergasted that you defend a fucking racist cartoon. I think that makes you a fucking racist too.

  10. nomdeplume says

    Australia has a long history of cartoonists producing racist cartoons about Aborigines (from the noneteenth century to the present)and Chinese people (in the nineteenth century). Our Prime Minister should apologise to Serena, but he is a member of a party (like American Republicans) with many racist members and supporters so that won’t happen.

  11. says

    @seleukos

    Osaka’s skin colour in this cartoon has the exact same RGB value as Serena’s skin colour. You can tell by eye (or at least I can), but if you doubt it then run the image through a graphics program to check it. As for the blonde hair, I didn’t watch the match but looking at photos if it, Osaka did have a blonde ponytail. What is that revealing of, exactly?

    I have to say that the skin color of Osaka didn’t look at all the same as the skin color of the judge, but there’s no question that the hair is intended to be blond and worn in a pig tail.

    As for the hair? That’s not at all what Osaka’s hair looks like. She has some bleach-brown accents, but the vast majority of her hair is as black as Serena’s. She also wears her hair in a bun during play with wisps of the bleached-ends spraying out but hanging no lower then where her head meets her neck. And you can see her hair is still in that bun in the after-match interviews. It’s hard to get away from the complete fucked-up weirdness of that.

    But moreover, in addition to the points Saad brought up about certain features being characteristic of racist caricatures of the past being re-used here by Knight, I think you’re missing another point, Seleukos, that the behavior that Serena exhibited was no different from that exhibited by white men who aren’t penalized by tennis officials and who don’t get caricatured in the newspaper for breaking a racket – even when they’ve done it multiple times.

    The historical context – both of the particular drawing elements used to caricature Williams but also the fact that this incident was seen as an appropriate event to caricature at all – matters a fuck of a lot. If you don’t’ caricature Federer for his behavior, why are you caricaturing Williams for doing the same thing?

    Your analysis misses the essential nature of racism. It’s not that every bad thing ever experienced by a person of color is racist or caused by racism. it’s not that every good thing ever experienced by a white person is racist or caused by racism. Nonetheless, you can’t analyze individual events in isolation to determine their contribution to racism. One person getting one job in a company doesn’t mean that there is racism and doesn’t mean that there isn’t.

    One caricature can’t be determined to be racist or not racist without analyzing the surrounding context, why the person is getting caricatured, whether other people get caricatured for the same behavior, what artistic tropes are used in the caricature and how have those tropes been used in the past.

    Fortunately for us, the cartoonist makes it easy in reproducing some of the worst and most exaggerated features typical of the worst and most exaggerated racist cartoons of the past. But the phrase “white trash” means sometime different when you’re cleaning up broken wall panels on the USS Discovery One than it does discussing southern politics in the US. You’re trying to analyze the cartoon without reference to anything else. It doesn’t work.

  12. seleukos says

    #16:

    you can’t analyze individual events in isolation to determine their contribution to racism

    That’s the thing though, you’re analyzing the cartoon based on the supposition that the umpire was being an asshole while Serena Williams was being unfairly treated. Everything I’ve seen in the discussion in the other thread about this and elsewhere point to this being by no means a foregone conclusion, so the cartoon cannot be judged as if it were going against the facts by putting a racist spin on things. Maybe the cartoonist is also being racist, which is incidental to a valid lampooning of Serena’ tantrum. But it seems to me that people all too easily conflate the two, and the perception of unfair treatment during the match bleeds into the perception of unfair treatment by the cartoonist. I don’t know how else to explain that statement about Osaka’s skin tone in the cartoon being accepted at face value. Do you? The hair puzzled me when I first saw the cartoon. I had the exact same gut reaction you probably had, like the cartoonist had just substituted a random white person for Serena’s opponent. It was only when I performed a google image search that I noticed that the back of Osaka’s hair is indeed blonde. Does it look exactly like it’s shown in the cartoon? No, but I’m guessing the umpire’s nose isn’t that long either.

    #13: It’s nice to know I can be so easily defined. Also, that if a cartoon is objectionable, even racist, it’s okay to make stuff up about to make it sound even worse. Maybe if some of the accusations against it weren’t so blatantly wrong I wouldn’t have felt the need to defend it.

  13. says

    This is the paper of my hometown. The cartoon is racist – we locals know that as well. A few more points about the paper that the cartoonist works for, The “Herald Sun” (or the “The Hun” as we locals call it):
    – Is part of the Murdoch Empire of right wing tabloids
    – It’s major columnist, Andrew Bolt is a far right ideologue known for racism and climate change denial
    – the paper frequently runs anti-migrant and borderline racist materials.
    – It pushes right wing, libertarian, anti-liberal op-eds.
    It’s no “accident”.

  14. popeye977 says

    This is either a racist representation, or something from a very bad cartoonist. When I glanced at it I immediatly thougth of colonialist stereotype representing black people -and that was even before realizing what I was looking at.

    That said:

    Unintentional or not, the juxtaposition is clear: Naomi is the quiet, questioning protagonist who, along with the genteel official, is opposed by the brooding behemoth, Serena Williams.

    Well, that’s correct. This is what actually happened, and has nothing to do with the racism of this image.
    I would have put more emphasis on the pacifier thing, since Serena Williams beheved just like a kid who has been denied something he wants.

  15. popeye977 says

    @chigau.
    Your positions are always useful to the discussion, extensively explained and well documented.
    I feel enriched every time I read one of your essays.
    Thank you very much.

  16. Rowan vet-tech says

    Popeye, how often have you seen cartoons of male tennis players with pacifiers after they throw ‘tantrums’ at judges, but don’t get penalized by said judge?

  17. popeye977 says

    Rowan, you are in the wrong thread. This one is about racism. For the discussion about sexism please refer to the other one.
    My point here is: this cartoon is racist as hell, just don’t try to leverage on this fact to try and excuse Williams’behavior. You already tried it with sexism in the other thread, now it’s racism.
    SW behaved as an asshole, and she deserves to be mocked for this. Only, not in a racist (or sexist, ok?) way.

  18. Paul Cowan says

    For those pitching the argument that the cartoonist’s depiction would have been interpreted as a racist caricature regardless of drawing style, I present Exhibit A (which strangely enough attracted zero accusations of racism).

    http://synd.imgsrv.uclick.com/comics/sc/2009/sc090914.gif

    I’d also point out that most people calling the depiction knowingly racist are taking into account the cartoonist’s own history of right-wing dog whistling.

  19. psychomath says

    @1 seleukos

    “Is Michael Harriot colourblind? Are you? Osaka’s skin colour in this cartoon has the exact same RGB value as Serena’s skin colour.”

    Genuinely curious: are you not aware that perceptions of color are based on contextual clues that the brain uses to estimate the “true” color being represented? Do you actually think that Knight does not intend that the viewer perceive the Serena caricature’s skin-tone as darker? If so, I’m excited for you, because if you will do a search you will learn a lot about the perception of color in a short time. I would imagine this will be a real benefit for your cartooning. That goes too for your learning about racism. Everybody has to start somewhere, and if you can’t see how obviously racist this cartoon is, you really should start soon.

  20. graham2 says

    Im from OZ, so Im free of the US culture, and I didnt see the cartoon it as racist.
    It is exagerated of course, but thats what a caricature is. A fat man would be drawn very fat, a blonde lady as very blonde, etc etc.

  21. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    52 percent of voters who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election believed blacks are “less evolved” than whites, according to researchers at the Kellog School of Management.

    …aren’t they, like, majority Creationist?

    Fuckin’ consistency, how does it work?

    A fat man would be drawn very fat, a blonde lady as very blonde, etc etc.

    So, what, Knight should have dawn a silhouette? I’m not sure what point you’re making here.

  22. says

    I do not give a flying toss about sports of any kind. I never heard the name Serena Wiliams before, and I never heard about male tennis players threatening umpires and destroying equipment without points being docked from them. So I had to read up on this.

    FWIW my conclusions are here, in the order I got to them:
    Many top tennis stars, including Serena Wiliams, are assholes and petulant and the sport has serious issues with disciplining them.
    Umpires behaviour and ruling in this instance were sexist, however the problem is not that Serena Wiliams was penalized, it is that the men who did the same were not.
    This cartoon is racist as hell, that was conclusion before I even read the article, a glance sufficed. The racist problem is not that this carroon was made, but how it was made (see Saad’s #6). In the context of our culture, it is unfortunately sexist too.and sexist problem is again that male players are not caricatured that way.
    The correct way, in my mind, to adress this in broader cultural context is not to enable female bullies and assholes, but to consistently penalize and hold in check the male ones too.

  23. John Morales says

    Azkyroth,

    So, what, Knight should have dawn a silhouette? I’m not sure what point you’re making here.

    I don’t see the cartoon as racist, either, though I accept that it is for the reasons given.
    Nor do I disbelieve the artist’s claim that it was not intended to be seen as racist, though I do disbelieve the claim that he was hitherto unaware of the history of caricatures of blacks and how fraught any depiction can be.

    And I am a little bemused by the lens through which people see it; little things like the colours used or the image of the dummy or the emphasis on race.

    The dummy, for instance, is an understood cartoon image¹ for the common idiom of the dummy spit².

    ¹ https://timstoons.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/dummy-spit/
    ² https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dummy_spit

    Anyway, graham2’s point is that, if one is not invested in the topic of racism (which is easy for white (whitish, in my case) Australians, one can just see it as a commentary on a tennis event.

    …aren’t they, like, majority Creationist?

    Heh. Good one.

    chigau,

    Mark Knight’s looks nothing like Serena. It is rubbish as a caricature.

    I thought it was not too bad — I imagine she was instantly recognisable to anyone aware of the context of the cartoon. Lips are too big, so perhaps stereotypical racism there, but she does have high cheekbones, and a very muscular build, though busty and callipygian. And that’s the outfit and hair-style she was wearing.

  24. Rowan vet-tech says

    @John Morales-

    No. It’s terrible. A good caricature would be recognizable outside of the context. Relying on “black woman who plays tennis” to tell you who this probably is is bad. Stereotypical racism in the features and making her overly buff. Is she muscular and strong? Yes. Is she like the hulk? No… but a lot of racists like to portray her like that.

    So this is a bad caricature in no small part due to the racism…because it had to cease looking at all like her in order to fit the racist stereotypes.

  25. F.O. says

    The cartoon is punching down.
    It is treating whites and blacks evenly only if you ignore the centuries of caricature, damage and hurt that black people endured already.
    It is racist as fuck and comes from an organization with a history of being proudly regressive.

    As an Australian citizen: Australians are racist as fuck and actively avoid addressing their racism.

  26. psychomath says

    @35 John Morales

    “I don’t see the cartoon as racist, either, though I accept that it is for the reasons given.
    Nor do I disbelieve the artist’s claim that it was not intended to be seen as racist, though I do disbelieve the claim that he was hitherto unaware of the history of caricatures of blacks and how fraught any depiction can be.”

    This is a strange attitude, or perhaps I’m misunderstanding you. You don’t “see the cartoon as racist”, but you accept it is for “reasons given”. You accept that it is racist because you agree with the reasons, but you don’t see it as racist. Odd. You didn’t say, “I didn’t understand it was racist until it was explained”, so I assume you don’t mean that.

    Next, you believe that the cartoon wasn’t intended to be racist. You don’t explain why you believe that, nor why you disbelieve that Knight was unaware of the history of black caricatures. You just seem to say things without giving any rationale for what you are saying or what it would imply if you were even correct.

    “And I am a little bemused by the lens through which people see it; little things like the colours used or the image of the dummy or the emphasis on race.

    The dummy, for instance, is an understood cartoon image¹ for the common idiom of the dummy spit².”

    Why does this confuse you? What is complicated about understanding that putting a darkened caricature up is significant to understanding how that will be perceived based on, well, the history of black caricatures? You don’t normally act the idiot, so why are you doing that now?

  27. John Morales says

    psychomath:

    This is a strange attitude, or perhaps I’m misunderstanding you. You don’t “see the cartoon as racist”, but you accept it is for “reasons given”. You accept that it is racist because you agree with the reasons, but you don’t see it as racist. Odd. You didn’t say, “I didn’t understand it was racist until it was explained”, so I assume you don’t mean that.

    That’s because the semiotics of racism are culturally-mediated, and whether this cartoon is racist in itself is a silly question. And on these matters, others’ opinions trump mine.

    Analogically, I don’t see rap “music” as having any artistic merit whatsoever, but I accept that it does indeed, because on on these matters, others’ opinions trump mine.

    For example, note F.O. above wrote “how It is treating whites and blacks evenly only if you ignore the centuries of caricature, damage and hurt that black people endured already.”, which explicitly claims that absent that context, it is not.

    Next, you believe that the cartoon wasn’t intended to be racist. You don’t explain why you believe that, nor why you disbelieve that Knight was unaware of the history of black caricatures. You just seem to say things without giving any rationale for what you are saying or what it would imply if you were even correct.

    It would be futile to elaborate to any degree as to the basis of my opinion, because other people don’t think like I do, and in any case I wouldn’t be changing anyone’s mind.

    Why does this confuse you? What is complicated about understanding that putting a darkened caricature up is significant to understanding how that will be perceived based on, well, the history of black caricatures? You don’t normally act the idiot, so why are you doing that now?

    I wrote ‘bemused’, not ‘confused’. Different connotation.

    It’s not complicated — as I wrote, if one is not invested in the issue of racism one can see that cartoon as a commentary on a tennis incident.

    Personally, the only way I think I’m acting like an idiot is to venture here and dissent from the narrative that this was intended to be malicious or that it was self-evidently a racist cartoon.

    (I did hold back until today because I know what the outcome will be, but hey, freethought blogs, right? :) )

  28. psychomath says

    @41 John Morales

    “That’s because the semiotics of racism…”

    Fair enough, I have been reading your comments for over a decade, so I guessed your answer would be along those lines. But, then, why communicate so poorly? If you understand these complexities, why phrase things in a needlessly convoluted way?

    “It would be futile to elaborate to any degree as to the basis of my opinion, because other people don’t think like I do, and in any case I wouldn’t be changing anyone’s mind.”

    Guess what superstar, nobody thinks like anyone else. That’s why we use language to try to communicate.

    “I wrote ‘bemused’, not ‘confused’. Different connotation.”

    Thank you, I actually was not aware that “bemused” could carry meanings like “thoughtful”, for example. I’m an American, and bemused is fairly uncommon for me, so I apologize for assuming there. For future reference, you may want to use different words to convey that meaning to Americans, unless I am atypical in that regard.

    “Personally, the only way I think I’m acting like an idiot is to venture here and dissent from the narrative that this was intended to be malicious or that it was self-evidently a racist cartoon.

    (I did hold back until today because I know what the outcome will be, but hey, freethought blogs, right? :) )”

    Well, sure. I still think your idea that racism was not intended even though Knight knew the history of black caricature is not a good one, unless one assumes Knight is stupid. Sorry if I fucked with your shit. I’m just a guy reading stuff on the Internet, y’know.

  29. psychomath says

    Oh, and incidentally, I have no opinion on whether Knight acted intentionally and with or without knowledge. It doesn’t matter to me either way. Communication is communication, and what you communicate is more important to me than imagining why it was done. What matters to me is not what is within the heart and mind on this one person, but what effect their communication has in the perception and understanding of the event.

  30. unclefrogy says

    what ever the intentions claimed that cartoon was not very funny in fact is was just acting superior and sanctimonious.
    “see the funny native acting all crazy ” can’t we all just act civilized? she is not allowed to act just like the boys.
    it was my impression that the judge was not acting in the least like the one pictured either. it was portrayed completely one sided and just an excuse to wack Serena. it certainly was not focused on pro-tennis
    uncle frogy

  31. chrislawson says

    graham2@32–

    I’m a fellow Australian but I have no qualms about calling this cartoon racist. You’re right that cartoonists exaggerate people’s features, but this is not what we’re seeing here. The cartoonist gave Williams a broad nose and extremely thick lips. This is not what the real Serena Williams looks like. What he has caricatured is not the actual Serena Williams but a generic black woman as per Jim Crow era cartoons. If you were to cut the face out of that cartoon to remove the context of the tennis court and the outfit, I don’t think many people would pick it as Serena Williams. The face looks more like a tiki carving than Serena W.

    And I say this as someone who thinks Williams’ behaviour was way out of line in that final. (I also think the referee erred in escalating the argument.) But you know, even as someone who thinks Williams behaved badly in that moment, there’s no question she’s paid for it. A penalty point, a penalty game at a crucial moment in the match, a $17,000 fine, and now blatantly subjected to venomous, sometimes racist depictions of herself in the mass media. And it’s not like this is the first time she’s been treated badly by the tennis apparatchiks. It was only a month ago that the poobahs at the French Open declared her catsuit would not be allowed in future. The suit was designed to help prevent her from getting deep vein thromboses on court — a condition she has a history of and which can lead to serious complications — and was no more revealing than a basic cyclist’s outfit, but no, the French Tennis Federation president acted like it was a stripper’s costume.

    So, you know, much as I think she lost control of her anger in the moment, I can’t bring myself to excoriate her for it. She has been repeatedly treated like crap by the tennis establishment. She has lost her temper a few times in her career (her outburst in the 2009 US Open was much harder to defend), but she has paid for it. every. single. time. Meanwhile the people who have mistreated her suffer no repercussions at all. So, you know, much as I think she can lose control of her anger and I’m happy to criticise those specific moments, I’m not going to take it as a sign of bad character until we start to see some accountability for people like the president of the French Tennis Federation whose behaviour was not only sexist but actively harmful to the health of a player.

  32. Dunc says

    And not only does Knight’s drawing portray Serena with undertones of classic racial stereotypes […]

    Those aren’t undertones. All that’s missing is the bone through her nose and the giant cooking pot containing white missionaries. (UK commenter here, so I’m about as ” free of the US culture” as the Aussies – by which I mean “not very much”. US culture is like plastic pollution: fucking everywhere.)

  33. chrislawson says

    John Morales@46–

    As you say, the “self-appointed censors” are actually not asking for censorship. They are publicly rebuking a cartoonist for using racist caricatures. Mark Knight’s job will never be in danger so long as Rupert is in charge of News Corp. So how is it censorship?

  34. says

    @John Morales
    I am not Australian, as you very well know. Your snarkasm is misplaced, because the culture spoken about here – that is top sports in general and top tenis in particular – is international and therefore not confined to any particular continent or country. It is pertinent to everybody, whether they like it or not (I do not, I despise sports and all they represent in reality – elitism, tribalism, purposeful destruction of one’s health etc.).

  35. zenlike says

    Using the Herald Suns own “logic”, who appointed them censors? I mean, if criticizing something amounts to would-be censorship, their criticism of the critics is also would-be censorship.

    It is baffling that a group of, I would suppose, journalists, does not understand the concept of free speech: they are free to print whatever racist cartoons they want, we are free to criticize them for it. And they are then of course free to (try to) address the criticism. And so forth, and so forth.

  36. KG says

    That’s because the semiotics of racism are culturally-mediated, and whether this cartoon is racist in itself is a silly question. – John Morales@41

    Did you intend to imply that the first clause of that sentence implies the second? Because it doesn’t. Unless we want to say that nothing means anything “in itself”, because all meaning is culturally-mediated. But that would be a perverse and indeed silly misconstrual of what the phrase “in iteself” means.

  37. John Morales says

    Charly @49, OK, rebuke accepted. (PS it was my #37 to which you intended to refer)

    But, metaphorically, she is the current female colossus of Tennis. So her aggrieved petulant outburst during the match was not due to some power differential against her, whether in contrast to the umpire (who is being excoriated for applying the rules, on the basis that this application of the rules was unfair), or to her opponent, who was more than matching her, or the umpire, who is a mere functionary.

    From Wikipedia, citations elided:

    “Earning almost $29 million in prize money and endorsements, Williams was the highest paid female athlete in 2016. She repeated this feat in 2017 when she was the only woman on Forbes’ list of the 100 highest paid athletes with $27 million in prize money and endorsements. She has won the ‘Laureus Sportswoman of the Year’ award four times (2003, 2010, 2016, 2018), and in December 2015, she was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine.”
    and career prize money of “US$88,233,301 (as of September 10, 2018)”

    She has become rich and famous and lauded thanks to her being an exceptionally good tennis player, so I don’t really think she has suffered all that much due to international tennis culture — rather the opposite.

    chrislawson @45,

    A penalty point, a penalty game at a crucial moment in the match, a $17,000 fine, and now blatantly subjected to venomous, sometimes racist depictions of herself in the mass media.

    But then, the penalty point was for smashing her racquet, the penalty game was for berating the umpire, and the fine was $(17k ÷ 1.85M) which constitutes less than 1% of the prize money she accrued, and those racist depictions are at least mitigated by the vast swell of support and encouragement and vindicatory affirmations that they have engendered.

  38. John Morales says

    KG @51,

    Did you intend to imply that the first clause of that sentence implies the second?

    No.

  39. Saad says

    call me mark, #54

    How in the actual fuck can anyone look at that cartoon and claim it’s not racist? Jeez.

    Yeah, drawing black people with exaggerated lips and/or noses is a basic feature of colonial era racist caricature. The people trying to say it isn’t are full of it.

  40. psychomath says

    @53 John Morales

    You could have said so much less had you replied “Not necessarily”. I’m going to deduct a half-point for that.

  41. psychomath says

    “But then, the penalty point was for smashing her racquet, the penalty game was for berating the umpire, and the fine was $(17k ÷ 1.85M) which constitutes less than 1% of the prize money she accrued, and those racist depictions are at least mitigated by the vast swell of support and encouragement and vindicatory affirmations that they have engendered.”

    This, surely, is beneath you. She is a human being, you know. Yes, she has been very successful, but it is not to your credit that you think money could mitigate her being treated in this way. And, leave her aside. What of a young person who admires her? What is this person to think, and feel, and imagine, and dream, when she sees such an incredible athlete treated in this way? Criticism is fine. I happen to think she let her temper get the better of herself. That doesn’t make depictions of her (that you sort of, kind of, in a certain sense think might possibly be racist, at least to some people) okay.

    Again, stop acting the idiot.

  42. Kreator says

    In addition to what has already been said, the shape of Bizarro!Selena’s head in that cartoon reminds me of Zippy the Pinhead, makes her look even more brutish and unintelligent and I doubt that’s an accident.
    Also, I think this is a good moment to (re?)post these:
    * How to Draw a Black Guy
    * How to Draw a Black Lady
    I can’t remember who brought them to my attention; if it was someone in this blog, sorry about that.

  43. leerudolph says

    I see that many people have called out seleukos’s comment @1 (and psychomath @29 has made the important and highly relevant point “that perceptions of color are based on contextual clues that the brain uses to estimate the ‘true’ color being represented”), but no one has yet directly addressed the following two sentences.

    Osaka’s skin colour in this cartoon has the exact same RGB value as Serena’s skin colour. You can tell by eye (or at least I can), but if you doubt it then run the image through a graphics program to check it.

    So today I took up the explicit challenge, using Corel Photo-Paint X8, and applying it to an ‘official’ version of the cartoon, https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DmxhK90VsAAZU79.jpg , from a tweet by the editor of the Herald Sun.
    The results are hardly surprising.

    First, “Osaka’s skin colour in this cartoon” nor “Serena’s skin colour” has anything like a onstant RGB value (which I could have told “by eye”…). This is partially—but only very partially—because the backgrounded face of the “Osaka” figure is an essentially featureless blur (with a dark outline, thin dark lips, and dark shadowing inside the outline of the ear, plus a little dark shadow at the top of the face), whereas the foregrounded face of the “Serena” figure is full of features: inside the dark outline, there are very dark eyebrows and scrunched-up eyelids, dark shadows beneath the cheekbones, dark lines indicating the upper edge of the maxilla, a dark red upper lip, and very dark coloring in the open mouth above and below the tongue). I cut all those dark parts out of both cartoon faces, while taking care to leave in place on the “Serena” face all the bright whitish highlights (upper lip, top of tongue, forehead, even earlobes), and compared the remaining parts of the two faces. I urge seleukos to do the same. I don’t have the time to enumerate all the RGB values of all the pixels in the two faces, nor the skill to find a quick way to extract that information and run statistics on it. The best I can do along those lines is to state (without attaching proof) that when the two are converted to 8-bit grayscale, and their “tone curves” compared, that of the “Serena” face is obviously skewed much more towards black than that of the “Osaka” face.

  44. snuffcurry says

    graham2 @ 32

    Im from OZ, so Im free of the US culture, and I didnt see the cartoon it as racist.

    You’re not free from the long and varied heritage of black hatred and anti-black racism is a part of Australasian culture, so knock it off.

    It is exagerated of course, but thats what a caricature is. A fat man would be drawn very fat, a blonde lady as very blonde, etc etc.

    No, when drawing a caricature of a real person, you exaggerate THEIR OWN FEATURES. This looks nothing like Serena Williams. The clues to the identity of the figure are outside of her physical form: clothing, court, racket, speech bubble, action. This is not a caricature of her, it’s a callback to an ugly, unreal model, taken from centuries of white art depicting black humans as animalistic, oversized, deliberately unappealing, menacing, hyper-emotional.

    So Williams was drawn as “very black,” in your mind. And you apparently accept as an innocuous fact of life that if one heightens blackness one is amping up ugliness, deliberating flouting reality by conforming to a lazy, hateful stereotype. Can you hear yourself?

    Would “very blonde” be necessarily extra ugly, or would it just be very blonde? What are the features you associate with blondes, beyond the shade of hair? Explain.

  45. popeye977 says

    @59 psychomath

    And, leave her aside. What of a young person who admires her? What is this person to think, and feel, and imagine, and dream, when she sees such an incredible athlete treated in this way?

    I think this person should think: “why the fuck am I to admire such an asshole? I want to become world champion just to demonstrate her that you can be a top player without being arrogant and nasty!”.

  46. snuffcurry says

    Are we also going to ignore the whitewashing of Carlos Ramos? That’s not what he looks like and that is certainly not how he behaved. The contents of the speech bubble is a great exercise in bad faith. Williams was not angry because Osaka was playing superlative tennis and Ramos was not trying to engineer a Williams win.

    Some of these comments, and from regulars, are unreal. Resident commenters of color have my sympathies; this thread is unhealthy.

  47. Saad says

    graham2, #32

    It is exagerated of course, but thats what a caricature is.

    Do you also think drawings of east Asian people that show closed eyes with huge smiles and big front teeth are also not racist?

  48. A. Noyd says

    This is how Williams looks when she’s screaming. Like all humans, her lips thin out and her nose looks small in comparison. Anyone trying to say the cartoon is merely exaggerated but still accurate needs to fuck all the way off.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    John Morales (#35)

    And that’s the outfit and hair-style she was wearing.

    That absolutely is not the hairstyle she was wearing.

  49. psychomath says

    @63 snuffcurry

    Nice points, and it makes me inclined to offer a hypothesis I have. The US is notoriously racist and sexist, and this is accurate. However, The reason we know how racist and sexist the US is, is because it is complained about. It is challenged. I suspect that Europe, Australia, New Zealand, are at least as racist and sexist as the US. I suspect that they have barely even begun to confront these issues. The bizarre defense that the term “cunt” is used for men and women is so idiotic that I have trouble believing people are arguing seriously. Certainly, white Australians views of Aboriginals and Asians are hardly hidden. Neither the views of Brits and blacks and South Asians, the French and Arabs, and so on. I think the intensity of the conflict in the US with the Me Too movement, and BLM, are signs of relative health. What do you think? Is this crazy?

  50. psychomath says

    @64 popeye977

    “I think this person should think: ‘why the fuck am I to admire such an asshole? I want to become world champion just to demonstrate her that you can be a top player without being arrogant and nasty!'”

    Really? People make mistakes, you know. I daresay you might have made one or two in your time. Shall we denigrate your race as we mock you? I hope you don’t currently have any children, and I hope you decide not to have any. What the hell is the matter with you?

  51. psychomath says

    Honestly, a lot of you people are disgusting. I’ve said in these comments that I think Selena Williams lost her temper, and implied she ought not have acted as she did in those moments. I’ve done far worse with far less provocation, I promise you, and yet I consider myself a rather decent person. That you would say that these blatantly obvious racist caricatures aren’t a problem because she behaved poorly is beyond stupid. You’re not just dumb, you’re fucking evil. I hope you are each young and can learn. Good luck, and go fuck yourselves.

  52. buddhabuck says

    A few years ago, when there was a controversy over a Roma academic who showed up at a conference on Roma culture wearing traditional Roma clothing (and getting kicked out of her hotel because of it), I was amazed at the open levels of racism in some forums from Europeans towards the Roma. The kicker was a poster who said something I am only paraphrasing because I don’t have the exact quote handy: “It’s not racist, the Roma really are all thieves”.

    From that I concluded that only Americans are racist. Europeans are not racist, they are only telling the truth about the various other cultures.

    If the cartoon was drawn in an American paper, it’d be racist as all get out. But in an Australian paper, it’s not. After all, it’s not racist if all black women really do have obese bodies, plump, pink lips, and large, frizzy hair (in Australia), right?

  53. psychomath says

    I should add, because we all have to start somewhere, that if someone tells you something is racist or sexist, you should listen. Particularly if you aren’t a part of that group. You don’t have to agree every time or right away, but you should listen. I had a good upbringing, and my parents did the best they could to make me respect women and treat races fairly, but I would later discover they didn’t know everything there was to know and that they themselves were not always feeling the platitudes they offered.

    I used to “reserve judgment” on accusations of racism and sexism most of the time. I knew they were real problems, but I would doubt the allegation that they were involved frequently. So, I’d read feminist and anti-racist websites, follow the arguments in the comments, and once in a rare while comment myself. At first, I commonly thought that the accounts of events were reaching when they would infer racism or sexism as a motivation for a statement or action. I remember being so annoyed when people would react with abuse instead of argument, or to responses like “What about the mens?” or “Why aren’t we talking about white people?”

    Thing is, you have to get out of your own mind-space if you are from a privileged group listening to people from a group without privilege. Once you begin to see the patterns, your perspective shifts. You begin to see that a caricature of one person, maybe a person at the worst moment in their life, can affect all the other people who are in the same group. You begin to see that something that would have been innocuous is actually just another link in the chain. It’s a revelation. It’s one of those things that once you can see it, you see that it is everywhere, and you have trouble remembering what it was like when you didn’t notice it.

    This site isn’t a place for sexism 101 or racism 101, but if you want to understand what the people here are talking about, and why they get so frustrated, and why they become abusive to people who are saying what we now see as obvious idiocies, you should look into it. I am a far better person than I used to be because I looked into it, and admitted I was wrong. Even from a purely selfish perspective, it has made my life better. My interactions with people is better because I am aware of the difference in our experiences and so the world is bigger and more complicated.

    So, yeah, this is condescending. Sorry. I don’t think anyone is born understanding this stuff and it isn’t enough to just think you aren’t sexist and racist. You have to actually work at it a bit.

  54. starfleetdude says

    Here’s an well-informed op-ed about the incident at the U.S. Open:

    Martina Navratilova: What Serena Got Wrong
    Just because the guys might be able to get away with it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

    Serena Williams has part of it right. There is a huge double standard for women when it comes to how bad behavior is punished — and not just in tennis.

    But in her protests against an umpire during the United States Open final on Saturday, she also got part of it wrong. I don’t believe it’s a good idea to apply a standard of “If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too.” Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honor our sport and to respect our opponents?

  55. psychomath says

    @73 starfleetdude

    I swear I am just genuinely curious: are you aware that your comment isn’t relevant to the OP?

    Followup: if so, why did you post it?

  56. anbheal says

    Add a bone through her nose? White commentariat: Still not racist, she threw her racket, which is primitive behavior, he’s caricaturing primitive behavior, not blacks. Ay caramba.

  57. says

    @seleukos, #17, quoting me @16

    you can’t analyze individual events in isolation to determine their contribution to racism

    That’s the thing though, you’re analyzing the cartoon based on the supposition that the umpire was being an asshole while Serena Williams was being unfairly treated.

    What? No. There is no persuasive (much less conclusive) evidence that I was doing that because I wasn’t doing that. I never made any supposition remotely related to that. You don’t read me saying anything about the umpire being an asshole and, importantly, there’s literally nothing in my comment that treats what the umpire said or did as determinative of the question of the cartoon’s racism.

    I’m analyzing the cartoon in the context of a body of facts about racist caricatures combined with a body of facts about what constitutes sufficient reason for a newspaper caricature of a white man tennis player and a parallel body of facts about what constitutes sufficient reason for a newspaper caricature of (in this case) a black woman tennis player. I in no way investigated Federer’s motivation for breaking his racket, nor did I investigate Williams’ motivation. I simply left the two equal. If that’s inappropriate because I should have considered that Federer was actually trying to stop a zombie attack and broke his racket against a metal pipe when he missed a zombie’s skull, by all means attack my analysis as insufficiently specific.

    But don’t tell me that my analysis is predicated upon something that wasn’t in the analysis when there was already plenty to support my conclusions separate from that – or were you only agreeing with Saad’s comment #6 in your comment #7 because you came at the analysis having previously supposed

    that the umpire was being an asshole while Serena Williams was being unfairly treated.

    Yeah. That’s what I thought. Next time think a little harder before you tell me what my motivations and unstated assumptions are. You’re obviously not the telepath you think you are, and asserting shit that’s so stupidly wrong is only going to cost you credibility you might wish to retain on the off chance that someday you actually think something through to a valuable conclusion.

  58. ikanreed says

    It’s amazing the way the racism can be so in-your-face undeniable, and yet the denial comes so reliably.

  59. Saad says

    You can make a cartoon praising and idolizing a black person you admire. If you have drawn them with enormous out of proportion lips or nose, you have made a racist caricature.

  60. popeye977 says

    @80
    While I agree that this is a racist cartoon, your comment is a non-sequitur.
    I can make a cartoon praising a black person. I can also make a cartoon mocking a black person.
    And none of the above situations would be racist in itself.

  61. KG says

    John Morales@53,

    So why is it “a silly question” to ask whether the cartoon is “racist in itself”? Because the answer is so obviously “Yes”? Or what?

  62. Saad says

    popeye977, #81

    I can make a cartoon praising a black person. I can also make a cartoon mocking a black person.
    And none of the above situations would be racist in itself.

    I never said they would be racist. I said “If you have drawn them with enormous out of proportion lips or nose, you have made a racist caricature.”

    What’s non-sequitur about that?

  63. mnb0 says

    @Seleukos: your defense would have made some sense if
    1. Selena WIlliams were put in the background and the umpire in the foreground;
    2. and the umpire would have been an ethnical caricature too.

    You think the latter is impossible? Take a look at this.

    http://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1433173095i/122420.UY500_SS500.jpg

    Stereotypes of the Bretons and the Norwegians, plus a stereotype of a youngster from Paris in the late 1960’s.
    But the cartoon doesn’t even try. It’s telling that you don’t recognize it.

  64. mnb0 says

    Alas the link doesn’t work. Please google Asterix and the Normans; lots of steretypes, all European.

  65. says

    I can understand someone looking at this cartoon and not understanding the racism because they’re not familiar with the history of racist tropes in cartoons.

    I don’t understand why it’s so important for so many people that this cartoon isn’t seen as racist.

    It’s also very important that we know that Serena Williams was “throwing a tantrum” despite male (and mostly white) tennis players not getting similar reactions for doing the exact same thing, but none of this imbalance is racist or sexist.

    It’s very important that we understand she has been treated fairly and equally (and that we ignore things like she has been drug tested more than any other professional tennis player active today).

    It’s very important that none of this is racist or sexist. Her behaviour is unlike any seen in tennis before. If she were white and/or a man we would still see a similar cartoon.

    Because.

    Just… because.

  66. popeye977 says

    @83 Saad

    What’s non-sequitur about that?

    It’s in the irrelevance of the first sentence:

    You can make a cartoon praising and idolizing a black person you admire.

    with respect to the following one:

    If you have drawn them with enormous out of proportion lips or nose, you have made a racist caricature.

    Here some examples of true but inconsequential statements:

    “You can make a cartoon on a cat chasing a mouse. If you have drawn black people with enormous out of proportion lips or nose, you have made a racist caricature.”

    “Roses are red, the sky is blue. If you have drawn black people with enormous out of proportion lips or nose, you have made a racist caricature.”

    …and obviously, your own version.

  67. says

    One of the other things that’s not being discussed here enough is intention. As has been discussed on the blog before, intent isn’t magic. I fully believe the artist didn’t intend the cartoon to be racist. That doesn’t make the cartoon or the cartoonist not racist.

    There is this ongoing belief in wypipo that as long as we’re not putting on hoods, burning crosses on people’s lawns, and shouting the n-word at every passing black person, we can’t possibly be racist. That racism is something you can only do deliberately and with malice aforethought. Racism is bad and I’m not a bad person, so I can’t be racist!

    I’ve got some bad news…

  68. seleukos says

    #78: I mostly had this in mind when I was writing my response:

    The historical context – both of the particular drawing elements used to caricature Williams but also the fact that this incident was seen as an appropriate event to caricature at all – matters a fuck of a lot. If you don’t’ caricature Federer for his behavior, why are you caricaturing Williams for doing the same thing?

    Particularly “the fact that this incident was seen as an appropriate event to caricature at all”, along with the OP’s outrage that the cartoonist chose Serena as his target rather than the umpire. I don’t follow tennis. I only became aware of this case because it’s been all over the Guardian and here. I’m guessing that that’s why it’s been covered by a cartoon in Australia. People are talking about it. I don’t know, has a male athlete given the same kind of abuse to an umpire when they already had two infractions and that made them lose such a big game, then blamed it on sexism (or some other kind of bias)? This is what makes the news beyond the tennis world. This is what a cartoonist would want to focus on, not some random athlete being angry at a random game. So, by saying that a cartoonist should not ridicule her, you are assuming that Serena was in the right, unlike… what other target is there? The umpire, or nothing at all. Or Federer, simply for a sake of balance, without knowing whether his case got the same kind of attention back then or had the same repercussions on him.

    #84: This isn’t about the umpire or about Osaka. Serena is the celebrity, and she was the target of the cartoonist. I’m well aware of Asterix, having read it a lot since I was little (unfortunately I can’t get your link to work). You wouldn’t expect Uderzo to fill each panel with multiple ethnic stereotypes just so that the readers wouldn’t be confused that he’s only exaggerating the features of one of them, and here we’re only got one panel. Maybe this cartoonist is racist. Mike in Melbourne has local experience about that paper, and I have no reason to doubt it. But what got to me in the OP, what made me post about it at all, was the assertion that Osaka is made to look white and that it isn’t simply racist for Serena’s features, but for everything about it – the other characters, their interactions, the very premise of the cartoon. Which brings me to

    #62: I admit that when I first decided to test the colours, I picked a random pixel from the middle of Osaka’s face, then a random one from some middle section of Serena’s face, and the RGBs were identical. That was enough for me at the time, so I didn’t bother with the variance. Your comment has prompted me to look at it again. I’m using Paint Shop Pro 6, a quite old program but quite dependable for this sort of thing. Osaka is more monochromatic by necessity. You can’t give the same shadowing on a small figure as on a large one in this type of artwork without it looking weird. So Serena will definitely have a lot more variance. From checking a range of pixels on her face and arm, their hue varies from around 15 to around 20 while their brightness varies from around 112 to around 236 (there are areas with even higher brightness, but those are almost white and that messes up the hue, so I’m ignoring them, much like you cut out the dark parts; I’m also ignoring folded areas like the eyes, and also Osaka’s shadowing at the top of her head). Osaka’s hue ranges from 17 to 23, and her brightness from 187 to 195. There are areas with less saturation, but that messes up the hue because it’s essentially gray. The umpire has a hue at around 13 and brightness 206 to 216. So, if anything, I find that Serena is slightly pinker than Osaka (marginally lower average hue, but it’s unnoticeable by eye – btw, you’re going to lose that information if you convert it to grayscale), while the average brightness is about the same. The umpire is noticeably pinker and slightly brighter.

    #29: I don’t understand you. In both cases, the background colours are the same, the colour of their clothes is pretty much the same, and Osaka is drawn next to a noticeably pinker umpire. You’re not going to get one appearing whiter than the other out of colour contrast. Serena has shading while Osaka doesn’t. If you think that’s enough to accuse the artist of purposefully drawing it so that Osaka would appear whiter, and that this is part of a masterplan to trick the readers, then I’m not sure how to respond to it. If you continue to defend the assertion that the artist painted a “damn-near white woman whose complexion is the same as the umpire’s” I can only throw my hands up and stop commenting. I’m already convinced that there’s probably some racist intent going on in that newspaper based on local knowledge, but there’s no way I’m gonna put up with the blind assertion that one colour is the same as a clearly different one because that’s what some people want to see.

  69. says

    @popeye977:

    People have been asserting that since the behavior of Williams might reasonably be criticized, the cartoon is non-racist regardless of the details of the cartoon.

    Saad’s response is that it doesn’t matter if your critique was reasonable. It doesn’t even matter if Williams was engaged in praiseworthy behavior. The drawing itself makes the cartoon racist by employing classically racist themes from past caricatures. That bit about the first part being irrelevant to the 2nd part, that’s not you educating Saad, that’s you repeating Saad’s point and completely failing to understand how it is relevant to the ongoing discussion and the defenses of racist cartoons that have been offered in this very thread.

    In the future you might try to do less to publicize your lack of reading comprehension.

  70. says

    So, by saying that a cartoonist should not ridicule her, you are assuming that Serena was in the right, unlike… what other target is there? The umpire, or nothing at all.

    NO.

    I never said the cartoonist should not ridicule her. Stop making shit up. Quote me saying it or retract this.

    The cartoonist was wrong to use racist caricature. The cultural dynamic that leads us to think that similar behaviors by men and women should be criticized differently. It is fucked up to criticize women who come to work wearing a t-shirt if you don’t criticize men who come to work wearing a t-shirt. That cultural dynamic is wrong.

    Now, there are many ways we can respond to it. One way is not to criticize women for wearing a t-shirt. Another way is to start criticizing men. Another way is to step back and not blame anyone in particular, but realize the dynamic is fucked up and ask questions about how it got that way so that appropriate changes can be implemented. I’m not a tennis player. I haven’t blamed anyone – umpire or otherwise. I’ve called attention to a discrepancy, but the discrepancy is a fact. It doesn’t blame.

    You are making shit up about me and what I’ve said. Stop it.

    If the cartoonist wanted to ridicule her without the racist caricature, the cartoonist would still be participating in a social dynamic where women’s outbursts are more strongly condemned than men’s actual fucking violence (see all the apologia for rape in the ever), but the individual cartoonist might not even be at fault. Perhaps the cartoonist has lampooned many men tennis players for similar behavior, but the larger sexist dynamics at play in society caused this one to come to my notice when others didn’t. That would still be fucked up, but it wouldn’t be the cartoonist’s fault.

    I’ve never said that the cartoonist shouldn’t ridicule or criticize Williams. I have criticized the cartoonist for what the cartoonist actually drew – which was reprehensible and overtly racist.

    Do you know how to read the words on the screen without making your own shit up and inserting it as if it was part of the original? Because you might want to try that.

  71. popeye977 says

    @90
    Saad threw in an isolated statement, without any reference to previous comments. That comment, as it was written, is a non-sequitur.
    In the future I’ll keep doing the fuck I like, thank you. For sure it’s not from you that I’ll learn something new and useful.

  72. says

    BTW everyone, I know this cartoonist has a history of racism, I was just pointing out that there is such a thing as having one’s legit work misused by others. In such a case those who misuse the original work are to blame. The cartoonist who created Pepe the Frog is one example of someone whose work has been misused and isn’t responsible for the racist, white supremacist uses to which his creation has been put.

  73. vucodlak says

    @ popeye977, #92

    Saad’s comment at #80 was quite clear. Racist tropes, like the ones Saad mentioned, are racist regardless of the other context of an image. One needn’t know anything about the context of the cartoon to see and understand the racist tropes it uses, and adding in the context doesn’t suddenly make the racism excusable.

  74. John Morales says

    Since this thread has basked in quietude for a while, and this day for me is nearly done, I hereby respond to comments directed at me.

    Psychomath:

    @53 John Morales

    You could have said so much less had you replied “Not necessarily”. I’m going to deduct a half-point for that.

    Deduct away, though, personally, I find definitive responses more terse than ambiguously vague ones.

    Again, stop acting the idiot.

    Heh. You know I know that I specified in what manner my idiocy manifests, and I know that you know in what manner yours does.

    KG @82,

    John Morales@53,

    So why is it “a silly question” to ask whether the cartoon is “racist in itself”? Because the answer is so obviously “Yes”? Or what?

    Are you asking this question because you can’t fathom how it might be a silly question, or because you are interested in my rationations?

    Tell you what: I will trade you a question for a question.

    Remember how you further asked “Did you intend to imply that the first clause of that sentence implies the second? Because it doesn’t.”

    So, my own question, to which a genuine response will elicit a genuine response:
    Why are you so curious as to the minutiae of my response, so that you must know the cardinality of my clauses?

    (Sheesh!)

  75. rydan says

    The cartoon is racist. As you say there is no debate. Full stop.

    But in no way is the complexion of Osaka the same as Ramos in that cartoon. In fact if you compare the two players side by side both are the same shade. I’m not sure why people say differently. This isn’t even an optical illusion like the cylinder with shadows. It just isn’t. There are other issues with her representation including the exaggerated blonde hair when only the tips are.

    Saying “diversity hurts whites” isn’t a racist statement at all. It is very true. It is true in the same way Democracy hurts autocrats and Socialism hurts the rich. How could it not when whites control practically everything? You can’t say “When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression” and then call them racist for thinking equality hurts them.

  76. John Morales says

    rydan:

    The cartoon is racist. As you say there is no debate. Full stop.

    Not literally, no. And apparently not, too.

    Saying “diversity hurts whites” isn’t a racist statement at all.

    Best non sequitur of the year, for me.

    (I do wonder how it’s supposed to hurt whites, apparently it has something to do with a cartoon from Australia. Or something about complexions… it’s very confusing)

  77. rydan says

    @3 That sounds like a reasonable argument. However unfortunately Google hides offensive racist content automatically to some degree. This is especially true if Google knows you do not want to see that type of content. So what you are seeing are the images that either are extremely relevant today or which are contained within your information bubble. I assure you if we could access everything on the internet without such a filter forced on us that we would see far worse and it would far outweigh the fairly accurate depictions we both see when performing that search.

  78. John Morales says

    rydan @98:

    However unfortunately Google hides offensive racist content automatically to some degree.

    So very vague, so speculative, so animistic.

    Nope. “Google” here is a bunch of algorithms, and “it” doesn’t know something is “offensive racist content” until it’s told it is so.

  79. Saad says

    popeye977, #87

    I didn’t think you’d be this bad at reading for comprehension so I’ll make it simpler for you:

    You can make a cartoon praising and idolizing a black person you admire, but if you have drawn them with enormous out of proportion lips or nose, you have made a racist caricature.

    You also seem to be bad at thinking in general since your two examples:

    “You can make a cartoon on a cat chasing a mouse. If you have drawn black people with enormous out of proportion lips or nose, you have made a racist caricature.”

    “Roses are red, the sky is blue. If you have drawn black people with enormous out of proportion lips or nose, you have made a racist caricature.”

    Are nothing like my statement since they’re lacking a very crucial element: My first sentence was about drawings of black people and the second sentence was also about drawings of black people. Your first sentences are about a cat and a mouse and roses and the sky.

  80. says

    Jesus fucking CHRIST on a pogo stick, the blatant displays of ignorance and mind-reading by some people are just disgusting. Popeye, John, and Seleukos all need to STFU and pay attention to what’s actually being said.

    This isn’t rocket surgery. If I can understand that the cartoon was racist, and why, there’s no reason you can’t, unless you’re being deliberately obtuse.

  81. seleukos says

    #91: I understood your comment to mean that the cartoonist was wrong to make this cartoon not only because of how he drew Serena but for the whole context behind the event, i.e. that she did not deserve to be ridiculed for what happened because men do the same without the same repercussions. If I misunderstood you, I apologize. If you misunderstood me as saying that you thought the cartoonist shouldn’t ridicule such a public figure at all, I apologize again for not being clearer.

    My point remains that you (and the OP much more so) seem to be conflating racism in how Serena has been drawn with insensitivity in even making a cartoon about a subject matter towards which you have a different interpretation, and to which the OP and some others attach outlandish accusations about how the other characters in the cartoon are coloured. The latter is my main point of objection, and it seems to me that perceptions of it are shaped by the former to an irrational degree.

  82. John Morales says

    WMDKitty:

    Jesus fucking CHRIST on a pogo stick, the blatant displays of ignorance and mind-reading by some people are just disgusting. Popeye, John, and Seleukos all need to STFU and pay attention to what’s actually being said.

    OK. I comply.

    <

    blockquote>This isn’t rocket surgery. If I can understand that the cartoon was racist, and why, there’s no reason you can’t, unless you’re being deliberately obtuse.

    <

    blockquote>

    Here, just for you: I don’t see the cartoon as racist, either, though I accept that it is for the reasons given.

    (Or: I understand how it’s seen to be racist, and therefore accept that it is racist, for the reasons given. Were I in charge of that paper, I would acknoledge that and furthermore I would apologise)

    In passing, apparently I think better of you than you do of me.

    I accept that.

  83. hema9437 says

    @Saad I was genuinely curious. I am not from the US or Australia. Until recently I had no idea about caricatures in cartoons being racist. As long as perception about racism is consistent for all races, I am fine with it. Having seen some old cartoons, I agree Serena’s caricature is racist (in cultures with a history of racially targeted cartoons).

  84. John Morales says

    hema9437, interesting. So, given you acknowledge (as do I, for similar reasons) the featured Serena’s caricature is racist, dare you to inform readers about whether you yourself consider your own adduced example racist, now that responses are at hand?

  85. John Morales says

    hema9437:
    [just to be clear: the null hypothesis is that you don’t, on the basis of your original comment]

    As long as perception about racism is consistent for all races, I am fine with it.

    MmmHmm.

    So. This claim invites the question: how is a racist depiction of a white person signified?

Leave a Reply