Naomi Osaka is black in a country that doesn’t treat black people like the Japanese

Naomi Osaka is black in a country that doesn't treat black people like the Japanese

Photo: David Ramos / Getty Images

  • Naomi Osaka, the biggest Japanese name in the Tokyo Olympics, broke the myth of a unique identity in Japan and opened the way for discussion of the existence of black bodies in the country

  • Tennis player breaks Japanese identity pattern and is the target of Japanese nationalist speeches

  • Although born in the Asian archipelago, mixed Japanese are known as part of the population designated as ‘hafu’, a word derived from the English word ‘half’, meaning half, mestizo.

Basic lesson: Leticia Fialho

inauguration of Tokyo Olympic Games There was an unprecedented appearance of a Japanese black woman who lit the Olympic pyre, tennis player Naomi Osaka.

Japanese identity, easily associated with squinting eyes and pale skin, may not reflect Japan’s ethnic diversity. The tennis player’s presence is a sign of representation in a country that does not consider blacks citizens.

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An activist on and off the field, Naomi Osaka was born in Japan, the daughter of a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, who moved to the United States at the age of 3. Exact questions have always been raised on his identity as he lives in another country. At the Tokyo Games, he chose to represent his homeland.

Naomi Osaka broke the pattern of Japanese identity. The tennis star was an Olympic staker for the 2021 Games, even though she was the target of Japanese nationalist speeches – divided between questions about her nationality and others who denied the existence of racism in Japan.

Naomi Osaka was eliminated in the third round of the tournament this Tuesday And admitted that he couldn’t handle the pressure of the occasion.

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The world number two tennis player was defeated by Czech Marketa Vondrosova 6-1, 6-4 in a surprise result, scuttling Japan’s hopes of winning a blaze of diamonds in their home Olympics.

Olympic Taekwondo medalist, Diogo Silva, comments on his experience abroad as an athlete. “I have a friend named Chin who is Japanese with dark skin. Mother is from Bahia and father is Japanese. Japanese people are extremely conservative and believe that light skin represents power, status. While dark skinned Oriental rural workers There are many references”, says the athlete.

Although born in the Asian archipelago, mixed Japanese form part of the population designated as ‘hafu’, a word derived from the English word ‘half’, meaning half, mestizo. Meanwhile, the pale-skinned, slanted-eyed Japanese are called ‘Nihonjin’.

“The context goes before what happens in the Tokyo Olympics. As an Olympic athlete I travel a lot, I find that when we look at athletes from each country, we automatically image that country. For example, when you see Brazil represented only by white people, you think of that country as white people. It’s the same in sports. When you see Usain Bolt running, you assume that Jamaica is a country with a mostly black population. It is more or less such an image creation”, says Silva, who popularized taekwondo in Brazil at the 2012 London Olympics.

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anti-racism activism

“Before I’m an athlete, I’m a black woman” is an excerpt from Naomi’s social media post in August 2020, when she forced the Western and Southern Open Championship semi-finals to be postponed. At the time, he left a match to protest the police who shot Jacob Blake – four of the seven shots fired in his back during the arrest attempt.

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In a time marked by agitation black lives matterProtesters march in cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya and Niigata throughout June 2021, following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, in the north of the United States.

“First, we want to show solidarity with the protesters in the United States. Second, we want to pave the way for discussing racism here in Japan,” said activist Sierra Todd, who organized the protest in Tokyo.

“We march among the Japanese to raise awareness of what is happening there – and to wake them up about what is happening here. There have been black people in Japan for a long time. Black people born in Japan are Japanese. . We exist,” said photographer Ayana Wise, a Kansai activist, told The Japan Times.

About the author: Sarah Gracie

Sarahis a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.

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