“When will it ever be enough?”
Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka voiced the thoughts of millions of people across the globe as we are yet again shaken up at the news reports of another Black person being persecuted and brutally shot by police in the United States. Following the August 23 seven-bullet shooting of unarmed 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, a number of professional sports players in the US have openly joined the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement by boycotting their upcoming games.
In a Wednesday post on her official Twitter account, Osaka wrote that as a Black woman, she feels “as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching [her] play tennis,” announcing that she will not play at the Western & Southern Open in New York City this Thursday. She was scheduled to play her semifinal match against Belgium’s Elise Mertens.
“Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman,” Osaka wrote, adding that the continued police brutality in the US — which she referred to as “genocide” — is making her “sick to the stomach.”
In her boycott, Osaka is joining professional athletes in basketball, baseball and soccer in demanding that police brutality against Black people in the US is once for all put to stop and justice is sought for the victims who have lost their lives under police oppression. Among those victims are George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both of whom were killed by police in 2020 in two high-profile cases that have triggered massive protests and movements in solidarity to Black Americans across the globe, including in Japan.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) August 27, 2020
“I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction,” Osaka said in her viral tweet that was shared nearly 300,000 times within several hours of the initial post.
The tweet, posted in English and Japanese, attracted dozens of supportive comments, the overwhelming majority of which praised Osaka for her decision.
I admire and respect you so much for standing up for justice. We will prevail. ❤️✊🏾❤️✊🏾❤️✊🏾
— Tsitsibitch (@littlewonder168) August 27, 2020
Thank you Naomi. You are setting an example for everyone, but giving strength to young Black kids in tennis like my own.
My son and I are both proud of your example 🙌🏾🎾
— Kacey325 (@Kacey325) August 27, 2020
Positive reactions from Japan also flooded on Twitter as soon as the news of the boycott were broadcasted in Japan early Thursday morning.
— 実子（じつこ）仮名 (@move_topping) August 27, 2020
Translation: Naomi san, I really like you! Thank you for sharing what’s been eating you inside. I believe that your professionalism as an athlete is helping many who have been hurt. We are being helped (by you) too.
— まつさん❄️☮️ (@libtrdjpn) August 27, 2020
Translation: Naomi, I think that was a really brave decision. I am so proud of you and will continue to root for you from now on too!
— Marika Joyce (@MarikaJoyce) August 27, 2020
— sirokuma (@sirokuman_nn) August 27, 2020
Translation: I learned this morning from the news. A 29-year-old black man was shot by a white police officer for doing nothing. He was a regular person. I was shaking with anger and fear. How many times will this continue? What can we all do?
Osaka has been a vocal advocate for the Black Lives Movement, taking to social media on a number of occasions to seek racial justice since the death of George Floyd in May, advocating that silence equals compliance. She has also actively battled criticism stating that athletes shouldn’t “be rubbing their noses in politics.”
I hate when random people say athletes shouldn’t get involved with politics and just entertain. Firstly, this is a human rights issue. Secondly, what gives you more right to speak than me? By that logic if you work at IKEA you are only allowed to talk about the “GRÖNLID” ♀️?
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) June 4, 2020
For more coverage on the Black Lives Movement and reports on it in Japan, read the following articles and event listings:
- “We Need To Turn Anger Into Education:” Japan For Black Lives Founders Terry Wright and Naomi Kawahara on Why We Should Talk About Racism in Japan
- What’s Wrong with NHK’s Black Lives Matter Video and Why We Need to Talk About It
- Black Lives Matter Forever And Everywhere: A Tokyo March
- Black Lives Matter Tokyo: Harmonic Wavelength