Tennis star Naomi Osaka has been taking a decisive stance for Black Lives Matter, even dropping out of the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open tournament on August 27 in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and other victims of police brutality.
Since then, the 22-year-old has continued to stand in her truth, more recently showing up to her matches for the U.S. open wearing masks with the name of one victim of racial profiling—either through police brutality or White vigilantism. So far she has worn masks for Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin and George Floyd.
Osaka’s powerful activism has not gone unnoticed, least of all by the families of the victims. As USA Today reports, the mother of Trayvon Martin and the father of Ahmaud Arbery have expressed their gratitude toward Osaka using her platform to bring attention to racial injustice.
“I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mom said, according to the report. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well. Continue to kick butt at the U.S. Open. Thank you.”
Marcus Arbery, Sr., Ahmaud’s father, echoed Fulton’s words, adding “Naomi, I just want to tell you thank you for the support of my family.”
“God bless you for what you’re doing and you’re supporting our family with my son. My family really, really appreciates that,” he said.
Osaka responded to the kind words, noting the strength of the families for continuing on despite their tragic losses and emphasizing her hope to spread awareness.
“I feel like they’re so strong. I’m not sure what I would be able to do if I was in their position,” Osaka said. “I feel like I’m a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness. It’s not going to dull the pain, but hopefully I can help with anything that they need.”