Naomi Osaka dared to defend her sanity

On Monday, Naomi Osaka made the instantly viral and deeply personal decision to withdraw from Roland Garros in order to prioritize her mental health. The 23-year-old tennis player Explain that she “suffered from long periods of depression” and when she arrived at the tournament, she felt anxious and wanted to avoid post-match press conferences for the sake of independence. Instead, she chose to quit completely after the officials fine his $ 15,000 for his boycott and threat that if it “continued to ignore its media obligations during the tournament, it would expose itself to possible consequences of a violation of the Code of Conduct”.

Put bluntly, Osaka, the world’s No.2 player, has been reprimanded for failing to comply with a long-criticized practice of parading athletes in front of the media, despite the obvious negative impacts. In 2015, Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks answered every question during the Super Bowl media session with the same response, “I’m here not to be fined. When Venus Williams was just a child, his father intervened tell an interviewer to treat her “like a child” and stop questioning her self-confidence. Them, and many other blacks athletes, stood up against the exhausting nature of the industry.

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Likewise, Osaka dared to set a limit that would allow him to show up and do his job, and that alone. She did the unthinkable: as a young black and Japanese woman, she said no. In a society that demands that she, and so many others like her, give everything for the benefit of the company, she said no. In a world where black women rarely have the space to enforce boundaries and take care of themselves, she has had the courage to say no.

We have been taught that creating boundaries at work makes us inherently less valuable and ultimately replaceable. This fear alone prevents too many people from protecting their own well-being. According to a Lean In and McKinsey 2020 Study, managers are less likely to stand up for black women than anyone else in the workplace. Osaka, a young Haitian 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 as as valuable as our production. As soon as we move away from the systems that we have tirelessly served, they go on a rampage to prevent others from doing the same.

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The applause and the pedestals are only there as long as black women break our backs for a goal that those in power have deemed worthy and beneficial to everyone. That’s why pundits are lining up to praise black female voters, but remain largely silent on advocacy for black maternal health or demands for substantive racial justice policies like The act of breathing. This is why sports associations, already criticized for their historic exclusion of women and other marginalized groups, have the audacity to ask more of athletes who already go above and beyond in their work. Like the poet Omar Sakr Assumed: “Imagine if the response to Osaka had been, ‘We’re sorry you’re having trouble, of course you can ignore the post-game press. We may also have advisors available. There may be a more suitable way for you to communicate with the press. Let’s discuss it when you’re ready. Instead of literally, “Do as you are told or we will punish you.” But such a response would do nothing to enrich tennis associations. Until we stop making decisions just to line the pockets of already wealthy people, people will continue to be asked to choose their careers over their own well-being.

Osaka’s decision may have been a little challenging moment, but it will have a ripple effect and pave the way for others.

Many have theorized on who exactly is “killing” traditional working formats. Are millennials to blame for their reluctance to accept low wages and chronic burnout for the promise of an experience? Maybe it’s actually Gen Z, whose mastery of social media has blown up the digital and influencer economies? These are valuable observations, and anyone who modernizes the work is to be commended, but none have gone so far in disrupting the status quo as blacks and black women. Osaka’s decision may have been a little challenging moment, but it will have a ripple effect and pave the way for others.

We are destroying the systems that tell us to work hard for crumbs or sacrifice our body and mind for what others have deemed a priority. As Audre Lorde reminded us: “Taking care of myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and it 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 fifties, recently diagnosed with cancer for the second time, when she opened up about self-care in her book A burst of light. At that point, Lorde recognized that freedom was meaningless if she didn’t have the courage to surrender it to herself. If we don’t take care of ourselves and each other, who will benefit from the fruits of our labor? Are we positioning ourselves again to be the mules of the world? All the hard work and no rewards?

Ultimately, we can and should have it all. It is not necessarily ambition or The well-being. Instead, our drive and resourcefulness should be our fuel as we discover new ways to show off ourselves and our colleagues to make work-life balance a norm. Workplace abuses such as blackball, retaliation, underpayment and stifling NDAs should be eliminated in favor of transparent and empowering 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 live your ancestors ‘wildest dream and your oppressors’ worst nightmare every time you rest.

We are selling innovation to the highest bidder when we should be leveraging it for the quality of life we ​​all deserve. It’s not too late to go back and opt for something different. Black women will have to be freed from the need to always be strong, productive and hardworking so that we can be well, above all. No strings attached. No return on investment. No evidence of suffering to validate the success of the other side.

I wish it on Naomi Osaka and all black women. You are living your ancestors ‘wildest dream and your oppressors’ worst nightmare every time you rest. Say no.

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