As she continues to raise awareness for racial injustice, tennis phenom Naomi Osaka is wearing face masks to honor victims from white violence and police brutality.
During this year’s U.S. Osaka has already honored Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Elijah McClain during her first three winning rounds of the tournament, People reports.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black EMT was killed in her apartment on March 13, 2020 by Louisville Metro Police officers Brett Hankinson, Jonathan Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove. Hankinson was fired, while the other two officers have been placed on administrative reassignment. None of the officers currently face criminal charges.
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging through a Georgia neighborhood when he was chased down and fatally shot by father and son Travis and Gregory McMichael on February 23, 2020. They were aided by William “Roddie” Bryan, all three men are in jail facing malice and felony murder charges.
McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, died after being detained with excessive force by Aurora, Colorado police officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema last August. None of the officers currently face charges or have faced any disciplinary action.
For the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Sunday (Sept. 6), Osaka took the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York wearing a black face mask with Trayvon Martin’s name on it, drawing the attention back to the Black teenager who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012.
After defeating Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit to move on to the quarterfinals, Osaka shared in an Instagram post why she chose to commemorate Martin’s name.
“I remember Trayvon’s death clearly. I remember being a kid and just feeling scared,” the 22-year-old caption in her post. “I actually didn’t wear hoodies for years cause I wanted to decrease the odds of “looking suspicious”. I know his death wasn’t the first, but for me it was the one that opened my eyes to what was going on.”
She continued: “I remember watching the events unfold on tv and wondering what was taking so long, why was justice not being served. To see the same things happening over and over still is sad. Things have to change.”
Osaka plans to wear three more masks as she battles her way to the finals of 2020 U.S. Open.
"I actually have seven [masks], and it's quite sad that seven masks isn't enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I'll get to the finals and you can see all of them," she said following her first win.
BET has been covering every angle of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other social justice cases and the subsequent aftermath and protests. For our continuing coverage, click here.
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)