Trayvon Martin's Mother Thanked Naomi Osaka for Wearing His Name at the U.S. Open
Osaka posted a powerful message about how Martin's death impacted her as a child.
UPDATE 9/9/2020 at 7:30 A.M.: Naomi Osaka is continuing to bring attention to the victims of racial injustice during the U.S. Open. The 22-year-old tennis champion has worn the name of a victim on her mask every day of the Open. The last three she wore were Ahmaud Arbury, George Floyd, and Trayvon Martin.
Martin was killed in 2012 and was only 17-years-old. Osaka posted a powerful message on social media about his death after wearing his name. "Actually I have a lot to say about this. I remember Trayvon’s death clearly," she wrote. "I remember being a kid and just feeling scared, irreverent info but 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. 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."
After the match during ESPN's post-match interview, Martin's mom Sybrina Fulton thanked Osaka for continuing to bring attention to her son. "I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor," Fulton said. "We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well. Continue to kick butt at the U.S. Open. Thank you."
On Saturday, Osaka posted a photo of herself wearing a BLM shirt walking downstairs onto the court. Following that, in two separate appearances, the grand-slam winner wore face masks that read the names of Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain. McClain and Taylor were killed by police in separate instances.
Taylor was shot and killed while she was sleeping in her bed after police entered her home with a no-knock warrant; McClain was stopped by police for wearing a ski mask that he wore due to his anemia, he was injected with a "therapeutic" dose of ketamine and died from cardiac arrest. None of the police officers involved in either case have been arrested.
Osaka told USA Today that she brought seven masks with her and every one of them honors a victim of police violence. “It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I’ll get to the finals so you can see all of them,” she told them.
Last week, Osaka posted a note about not playing in her semi-finals match after several athletes in other sports, including the WNBA, decided to strike in support of Black Lives Matter. In her note, Osaka wrote, "Hello, as many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semifinals match tomorrow. However, 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."
She continued, "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. Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach. I'm exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I'm extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again. When will it ever be enough?"