Osaka uses the platform of US Open to protest against racial justice

NEW YORK (US) – For Naomi Osaka, US Open this year was not just the tournament everyone eagerly awaits for, it has also been a major platform for her to engage the audience and viewers in her protest against racial injustice, that has been raging in the country. She won another Grand Slam title in her match opposite Victoria Azarenka.

Osaka put her activism right from the beginning of the tournament. Twelve days ago, when it all started, she had worn a mask to honor Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police officers after barging into her apartment in March.

And, then Osaka went on to remember seven different Black Americans, one each during the seven rounds of the tournament, thereby amplifying the Black Lives Matter protests to her sport’s broad international fan base.

“The point is to make people start talking,” she said.

She said after her three-sets win over Victoria Azarenka, “Everything that I was doing off the court was sort of on the court at the same time too. It made me stronger because I felt like I have more desire to win because I want to show more names.”

Even before the tournament started, she made her stand clear at the Western & Southern Open, by pushing for the postponement of its semi-final late last month. She has quit the match as a protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

She wrote on social media at the time, “Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.”

Tennis pioneer Billie Jean King was all praise for Osaka, who she said made the best use of the sport to send across the message. This has put her in the forefront, wherein sports players used their own field to voice greater concerns.

She said, “It has been more than 50 years since athletes like Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith and the Original 9 of women’s tennis all stood up and used their sport, their voices and their actions to change humanity.

“The baton has been passed and Naomi has accepted it.”

Her final mask of the US Open had Tamir Rice’s name imprinted on it. Tamir was a 12-year-old Black child who was spotted with a toy gun when a cop killed him in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014.

Osaka expressed her desire to meet the families of the seven people, the names of whom she had worn in her masks.

She said, “I learn more through experiences. For me, I feel like sharing stories and hearing people’s experiences is very valuable.”

Exit mobile version