Naomi Osaka's protests for the Black Lives Matter movement, plus other athletes who have took a stand in the past
She wants you to learn their names. And that's exactly what she's accomplished as tennis player Naomi Osaka donned seven customised masks, while swooping the the 3rd Grand Slam title for herself yet again. They were all in black — and printed with a different name on each and every one of them. All seven names belonged to black victims of racial injustice and police brutality. From Breonna Taylor to Tamir Rice, Osaka's open show of activism has garnered the attention of the entire world — from tennis fans and non-tennis fans alike.
Just before she was slated to play her semifinals match, the mass protests against the shooting of Jacob Blake instead prompted her to boycott her match — a decision that was quickly reverted when the organisers agreed to postpone the matches to the next day and collectively take a stance against racial and social injustice through their published statement.
In Osaka's words, "I'm Asian, I'm Black, and I'm female. I'm as normal a 22-year old as anyone, except I happen to be good at tennis." And she now knows exactly the power this holds. For a majority white sport with majority white viewers, her decision would have brought a fissure to the usual match schedules, and had she boycotted the games completely, fanatics would have been maddened at a possible rupture in one of the most important competitions for the popular sport.
Amidst the Black Lives Matter protests, the 22-year old Grand Slam champion is at her peak of play and character growth as she openly embraces her diversity and only hopes that her stand against racism can be an empowering and transformation one to more people — both in the US and Japan.
But she's not the only one. Through the years, we've seen many athletes take the cause to their courts, fields, and podiums — and all for good reason. As the major players in these highly-prolific sports, the viewership they gain parallels the star power of celebrities alike, possibly even reaching out to a larger and different audience profile. So here's a tribute to all the pivotal moments when athletes took a stand — some, even costing them their careers.
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