A lot has been said about Naomi Osaka. Some say she won the U.S. Open simply because Serena Williams was cheated by the the umpire, Carlos Ramos. But whichever way you see the outcome, Osaka did win. She is the new U.S. Open Champion and deserves to be recognized as such.
What’s even more impressive about this 20-year-old is her poise, humbleness, and how she can articulate what it means to be biracial. After her historic win, Osaka was asked to discuss her identity, which is an important topic if the person being questioned wishes to address it. However, when Osaka was asked “can you discuss your identity with Japan and your identity here in the U.S.” she first replied by saying something in the lines of “I get asked this all the time.”
Which as a person of color, especially those that are biracial, can understand, getting asked “where are you from?” is one of the most tedious yet loaded questions ever. White people never get asked this, so why question someone just because they’re biracial? Osaka replied perfectly:
“I was born in Osaka. I came to New York when I was three. I moved to Florida when I was around eight or nine, and I’ve been training in Florida since.”
But the reporter was not satisfied with that response. She dug even further. The reporter asked her to explain her Japanese culture and how U.S. culture affects her.
Osaka said: “Well, my dad is Haitian so I grew up in a Haitian household in New York, and I grew up with my grandma, and my mom is Japanese so I grew up with Japanese culture too. And if you’re saying American, because I grew up in America, I have that too. So I hope I answered your question.”
Here’s the entire exchange:
Tennis star Naomi Osaka reminds another reporter she’s “Haitian-Japanese” & grew up in a Haitian Household.” On Friday, Naomi became the 1st Haitian-Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam final. She defeats Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4 & will face Serena Williams on Sat at the US Open. pic.twitter.com/6DqsftzZCc
— Lunionsuite (@LunionSuite) September 8, 2018
This response is brilliant because in a semi sarcastic way, Osaka replied that while she is made up of all of these cultures, it doesn’t make her less Japanese or less Haitian or even less American nor does her identity have to be heightened in a way to create a storyline she has yet to write.
As a pro-tip: If people want to divulge about their history, identity or background, let them initiate the conversation. Don’t come in with assumptions you know nothing about.