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Osaka is a positive influence for the Black Lives Matter movement

  Osaka is a positive influence for the Black Lives Matter movement By Rae Roberts The young Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka is a symbol of positive solidarity and influence for the Black Lives Matter struggle. She used her stadium and huge likability for the two-week duration of the US Open Grand Slam tennis Championship in New York to great effect. Osaka joins the growing number of sports superstars drawing more and more domestic and international attention to the evil scourge of racism as well as the excessive use of force by some white Police Officers against black people. Naomi Osaka won the Women’s Singles, her second US Open title, the first being in 2018. Few, if any, could have ignored the black face mask she wore before and after her matches during the tournament. Each highlighted the name of the many tragic black deaths at the hand of white Police Officers.  This was a profound statement from a 22-year-old directed to all classes of society. What made her message of solidarity so hard to ignore on tennis’ biggest platform was the manner in which she carried herself in each of her matches. Osaka’s humility and composure and gamesmanship, even in the toughest of games manifested goodwill. Born to a Japanese mother, Tamaki, and Haitian father, Leonard, in the city with which she shares her surname, the family moved to New York when she was three years old. In her Esquire article, she discussed how her multicultural background has led to “people struggling to define” her. Osaka’s activism grabbed attention from the moment she took the initiative. According to the BBC Sports, On the eve of the US Open, Osaka pulled out of her Western and Southern Open semi-final in protest at the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by police in Wisconsin. She joined other protests by American sports stars, prompting the entire tournament to “pause” for the day. This quote from her was published in BBC Sports and it says “Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.” All and sundry took notice of her and the major TV networks carrying the tennis tournament and other events gave her much of the spotlight. The young lady created awareness that is sure to influence her generation and the next. Her message is pointed – we all need to stand up and be counted in this struggle for justice and dignity of the black race in the USA and elsewhere. The message is old but overwhelmingly relevant. Several generations for decades have carried the battle for fairness and justice in the USA. Nevertheless, racism is systemic in many parts of the country, and more so in the deep South, where religious conservatives are very influential. This new generation of Black Lives Matter protesters is refreshing, impacting just about every aspect of the social, political and economic landscape as never before. Significant numbers of white people and others are making their voices heard, and equally important, they are among the vanguards, championing the issues. Sustaining that momentum is the key to ensuring that the struggle eradicates systemic racism in the county, state and federal governments and other institutions. There is everything to gain for sports people and others leading the Black Lives Matter struggle. The challenge is to continue to go forward with this clarion call that Black Lives Matter.                                             


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