Naomi Osaka Dared to Say No

Naomi Osaka Dared to Say No

6/13/2021 10:16:00 AM

Naomi Osaka Dared to Say No

In a world where Black women are rarely afforded space to enforce boundaries, the 23-year-old athlete did the unthinkable.

Similarly, Osaka dared to set a boundary that would allow her to show up and do her job, and that alone. She did the unthinkable: As a young, Black, and Japanese woman, she said no. In a society that demands she, and so many like her, give her entire self over for corporate profit, she said no. In a world where Black women are rarely afforded space to enforce boundaries and take care of ourselves, she had the courage to say no.

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We’ve been taught that creating boundaries at work inherently makes us less valuable and ultimately replaceable. That fear alone keeps far too many people from protecting their own well-being. According to a2020 study by Lean In and McKinsey, managers are less likely to advocate for Black women than anyone else in the workplace. Osaka, a young Haitian woman defying the will of the French, was revolutionary in every sense of the word. But in return, she was treated like an ungrateful snob, proving that Black people are often seen to be only as valuable as our output. As soon as we depart and divest from the systems that we’ve served tirelessly, they lash out to keep others from doing the same.

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.A post shared by 大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka)The applause and pedestals are only there so long as Black women are breaking our backs for a goal those in power have deemed worthy and beneficial toward everyone. It’s why pundits line up to praise Black women voters, yet are largely silent on Black maternal health advocacy or demands for substantial racial justice policies like headtopics.com

The Breathe Act. It’s why sports associations, who are already under fire for their historic exclusion of women and other marginalized groups, have the audacity to ask more from athletes who already go above and beyond in their work. As poet Omar Sakr

hypothesized: “Imagine if the response to Osaka had been, ‘We’re sorry that you’re struggling, of course you can skip the post-match press. We can have counsellors made available also. Perhaps there is a more suitable way for you to communicate with press. Let’s discuss it when you’re ready.’ Instead of literally, ‘Do what you’re told or we’ll punish you.’” But such a response would do nothing to make the tennis associations any richer. Until we stop making decisions only to line the pockets of the already-wealthy, people will continue to be asked to choose their career over their own well-being.

Osaka’s decision may have been one small moment of defiance, but it will cause a ripple effect and pave the way for others.Many have theorized about who exactly is “killing” traditional work formats. Are millennials to blame for their unwillingness to accept low pay and chronic exhaustion for the promise of experience? Perhaps it’s actually Gen Z, whose fluency with social media has exploded the digital and influencer economies? These are valuable observations, and anyone modernizing work should be commended, but none have gone so far in disrupting the status quo as Black people and Black women. Osaka’s decision may have been one small moment of defiance, but it will cause a ripple effect and pave the way for others.

Related StoryVirtual Mental Health Resources For Black WomenWe are destroying the systems that tell us to work doggedly for scraps or to sacrifice our bodies and minds for what others have deemed a priority. As Audre Lorde reminded us, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” But she wasn’t talking about bath bombs and retail therapy; Lorde was a queer Black woman in her 50s, recently diagnosed with cancer for the second time, when she spoke about self-care in her book headtopics.com

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A Burst of Light. In that moment, Lorde recognized that freedom was meaningless if she didn’t have the courage to deliver it to her own self. If we don’t care for ourselves and each other, who gets to enjoy the fruits of our labor? Are we again positioning ourselves to be the world’s mules? All work and no reward?

Ultimately, we can and should have it all. It doesn’t have to be ambitionorwellness. Instead, our drive and ingenuity should be our fuel as we discover more ways to show up for ourselves and our colleagues in order to make work-life balance a norm. Workplace abuse like blackballing, retaliation, underpayment, and stifling NDAs should be eliminated in favor of transparent and nurturing spaces. Work should be a place to do something that matters to you, without it coming at the expense of your family, sanity, and other passions.

You are living your ancestors’ wildest dream and your oppressors’ worst nightmare every time you rest.We have been selling innovation to the highest bidder when we should be leveraging it toward the quality of life we all deserve. It’s not too late to turn back and opt for something different. It will require releasing Black women from the need to always be strong, productive, and hard-working so that we can be well, first and foremost. No strings attached. No return on investment. No proof of suffering to validate the success on the other side.

I wish that for Naomi Osaka and every Black woman. You are living your ancestors’ wildest dream and your oppressors’ worst nightmare every time you rest. Say no.Brea BakerBrea Baker is racial and gender justice activist working locally and nationally towards the liberation of all oppressed people with an emphasis on black people and women. headtopics.com

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Naomi Osaka Dared to Say No'Osaka’s decision may have been one small moment of defiance, but it will cause a ripple effect and pave the way for others.' Disagree with the “moment of defiance”. She asked for understanding ahead of time and when she was told that her mental health didn’t matter more than corporate money, she made a decision. Her choices were- 1. Do something that you mentally and emotionally just can’t do 2. Say No

Naomi Osaka Dared to Say No'Osaka’s decision may have been one small moment of defiance, but it will cause a ripple effect and pave the way for others.' Disagree with the “moment of defiance”. She asked for understanding ahead of time and when she was told that her mental health didn’t matter more than corporate money, she made a decision. Her choices were- 1. Do something that you mentally and emotionally just can’t do 2. Say No

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