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Mark Knight’s racist cartoon & the lack of racial literacy in Australia

I was asked to write an article for The Guardian about the horrendous racist cartoon of Serena Williams drawn by Australian cartoonist Mark Knight. Unfortunately, the headline used the word ‘ignorance’ which led some people to rightly point out that the problems of racism in Australia, or elsewhere, has nothing to do with ignorance; rather ‘white innocence’ about how race works is embedded into the very structure of racism.

Nevertheless, the article received positive feedback and was cited by Gary Younge in his own article on the matter. I was also interviewed for ABCRadio Adelaide and for radio 2SER. Unfortunately, the ABC fell into the very trap I was pointing out in the article by setting the conversation up as a supposedly ‘balanced’ debate between myself and a right-wing journalist who found ‘nothing racist’ about the cartoon. Once I expressed to the journalist that I had no intention discussion whether or not the cartoon was racist, she cut me off and turned to the other interview to wax lyrical about how this was nothing to do with historical racist caricature!

The full article can be read on The Guardian website.

Alana Lentin