'Racism 101': Controversial cartoon depicts Serena Williams as 'angry black woman,' Naomi Osaka as white blonde

People are outraged over a racially insensitive cartoon about Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. (Photo: Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

Much has been made of U.S. Open umpire Carlos Ramos’s controversial penalties against Serena Williams during Saturday’s women’s singles final against Naomi Osaka, who was ultimately crowned champion. Some say Ramos was right to penalize Williams for calling him a “thief”; others say she was merely standing up for herself, pointing out that male tennis players have faced less harsh penalties for more egregious behavior.

Sunday’s news that Williams has been fined $17,000 for court violations in the match has been criticized by her supporters as adding insult to injury — but it’s nothing compared with a vicious new cartoon published by the Australian tabloid newspaper Herald Sun.


The image has gone viral after being circulated by the cartoonist who created it, Mark Knight, whose depiction of Williams as a supersized, stereotypical “angry black woman” and the Haitian-Japanese Osaka as a white woman with blond hair has been roundly slammed as racially insensitive and offensive.

While Williams is drawn as a furious, overly bulky woman caught midtantrum — evoking a number of racial stereotypes — her opponent has been transformed into a slim Gwyneth Paltrow type.




 




Though the overwhelming response was one of outrage, some Knight supporters defended Osaka being portrayed as a blonde because she has bleached tips. That argument didn’t hold water with some critics, who pointed out that, in reality, Osaka has curly hair and dark skin and has thus been “whitewashed.”

Knight has remained unapologetic about his controversial drawing, telling one critic to not “bring gender into it” because he previously drew tennis player Nick Kyrgios as a “tennis brat.”


Williams and Osaka have not yet publicly responded to the cartoon.

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