The French Open’s attempt to force Naomi Osaka into speaking to the press follows a long line of major institutions attempting to exert control over Black athletes.
It’s always about control, either shut up and play or we only want you to talk about sports. When we address institutional and systemic racism, we need to address the holdover from slavery — controlling Black bodies, thoughts and words. We still call their employers “owners” and justify bad treatment from audiences (fans don’t spit on people) by saying they are well paid so should suck it up. There isn’t enough money to put up with dehumanization, yet when athletes protest, they are given that message. Good for Naomi and all athletes and entertainers who put their well-being first. We can help by supporting their right to control themselves.