Mar 14, 2022 • 10M

The Power of Trickle Down Racism

Why Naomi Osaka was so affected by what happened to the Williams at Indian Wells in 2001

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Literary fiction and essays by an award-winning writer from the Deep South focusing on the current zeitgeist and the news that stays news.
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Photo of Naomi Osaka, Wimbledon 2017 Wikimedia Creative Commons License

By now, you probably know that Naomi Osaka had a rough time at this year’s Indian Wells Tennis Tournament. There’s been a running commentary on it since Saturday. If you’ve got a few minutes, please allow me to contribute my two cents. On today’s Jazprose Diaries—”The power of trickle-down racism.”

Let me begin with a quote

“The past is a life sentence, a blunt instrument aimed at tomorrow.”
— Claudia Rankine,
Citizen: An American Lyric

To understand the truth of Rankine’s words, look no further than Naomi Osaka at Saturday’s Indian Wells tennis tournament. After a lone heckler yelled, “Naomi, you suck,” following the third match in her first set, Osaka failed to rally and lost in two straight sets. What happened to the Williams sisters at this very tournament in 2001 had gotten into her head, she told the crowd afterwards. Watch the video, she said.

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