On Thursday, Netflix premiered a docuseries about award-winning tennis player Naomi Osaka. As with all celebrity documentaries, viewers were made privy to some of the uglier happenings that go on out of the public eye. For Osaka, it was apparently having her “Black card” revoked after she chose to play for Japan in the Olympics.
Osaka is biracial. Her mother is Japanese and her father is Haitian. She was born in Japan but raised in the United States. For some people, that meant that her loyalty should have been with the USA.
“I’ve been playing under the Japan flag since I was 14. It was never even a secret that I’m going to play for Japan for the Olympics,” Osaka said.
Osaka’s mother, Tamaki, told The Wall Street Journal that playing for Japan was the natural choice because although her children were raised to know both of their racial heritages, they resonated more with the Japanese side.
“Quite simply, Naomi and her sister Mari have always felt Japanese, so that was our only rationale,” her mother said.
Osaka revealed that people revoked her “Black card” but struggled with the logic of it and felt those individuals were confused about how Blackness transcends country of origin.
“I don’t know, I feel like people really don’t know the difference between nationality and race because there’s a lot of Black people in Brazil, but they’re Brazilian,” she said. She also noted that African-American is not the only presentation of Blackness.
Despite the backlash, her star keeps rising. Naomi Osaka is the first Asian player to rank No. 1 in tennis singles categories.
On July 12, a Barbie doll modeled after Osaka sold out within hours of its release. She has also begun working on a skincare line for ethnic skin tones called KINLÒ and opened a tennis workshop in Haiti.
And she’s making the racket, slaying on the cover of Vogue Hong Kong with over-sized tennis racket earrings.
As further proof that she still holds a “Black card”, Piers Morgan verbally attacked her after she exercised her agency to take care of herself and her mental health back in June.
The three-part Netflix docuseries entitled, “Naomi Osaka,” is currently available and chronicles her life, struggles, and sacrifices to get to the top.