Athletes, including the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and 22-year-old tennis champion Naomi Osaka, are refusing to play sports to raise awareness following the shooting of Jacob Blake. Osaka was set to play the semi finals match of the 2020 Western and Southern Open on August 27, but ultimately decided that sitting out was necessary to her.
Last night, Osaka shared a note on Instagram about what fueled her decision to not play today’s match. “[B]efore I am a athlete, I am a [B]lack woman,” she wrote. “And as a [B]lack woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watch me play tennis.” The note included the hashtags #JacobBlake, #BreonnaTaylor, #ElijahMcClain, and #GeorgeFloyd, three of which are Black people who have been killed at the hands of police within the last year.
As stated, Osaka’s timing is connected to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black father of six who was shot by police on Sunday, August 23. He was shot a total of seven times and Blake’s family has confirmed that he is paralyzed from the waist down, although they are unsure if the damage is permanent. Blake’s family is being represented by notable civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump.
This is not the first time Osaka has spoken out in support of Black Lives. On June 1, a few days after the death of George Floyd, she made a comment on Twitter about the hyper focus on looting, versus the attention being given to those harmed by police.
“When you tweet about the lootings before you tweet about the death of an unarmed black man,” she tweeted, adding clown emojis. The remark was met with tons of backlash, but Osaka stood firm in her stance.
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