The tennis star has been showing that support by posting messages about his death online and responding to critics who say she shouldn’t address racial issues.
Osaka was born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father and moved to the United States from Japan when she was 3. The 22-year-old — a former dual citizen who gave up her American citizenship last fall to become solely Japanese — also responded to those who complained about the looting that’s taken place during some of the protests.
In one of her tweets, Osaka said she’s baffled how some can be angered by stolen items and not a stolen life.
“When you tweet about the lootings before you tweet about the death of an unarmed black man,” she wrote on June 1 next to four clown emojis.
“I see people been ghost on twitter for a week when the events first started unfolding, but as soon as the looting started they sure are quick to give us hourly updates on how they’re feeling once again,” wrote Osaka in another tweet.
She then accused some of staying quiet about the call for racial justice, outside of posting a black square on social media for Blackout Tuesday, a day where people and organizations protested on Instagram.
“I’m torn between roasting people for only posting the black square this entire week…Or, accepting that they could’ve posted nothing at all so I should deal with this bare minimum bread crumb they have given,” Osaka tweeted June 2.
Those who appropriate Black culture weren’t safe either, because in late May she wrote, “It’s funny to me that the people who wanna wear chains, blast hip hop in the gym, attempt to get dapped up, and talk in slang are suddenly quiet right now.”
Some of Osaka’s critics said she was race-baiting, others accused her of only mentioning Floyd because it’s something that’s considered the right thing to do.
“Sorry, one can be a good person, completely be in agreement with you about the murder of George, yet not mention him every time the last few days are referenced,” one tweet read. “Does everyone have to see things exactly as the youth of today & express it to your satisfaction to be PC?”
There was also someone who called Osaka a “terrorist.”
“Naomi Osaka does not seem to be the pride of Japan,” someone tweeted. “This is my own personal view after all, but I now recognize her as a terrorist. In the future I do not want her to get involved in tennis, a sport played by gentlemen.”
In one of Osaka’s responses to her critics, the two-time Grand Slam champion said it’s ridiculous for people to expect her stay silent on Black issues just because she’s a professional athlete.
“I hate when random people say athletes shouldn’t get involved with politics and just entertain,” she wrote. “Firstly, this is a human rights issue. Secondly, what gives you more right to speak than me? By that logic if you work at Ikea you are only allowed to talk about the ‘GRÖNLID’?”
Many of Osaka’s Twitter followers encouraged her to keep speaking up, regardless of what her detractors say.
“Thanks, Naomi. I hope more of the tennis community gives voice to this ongoing horror show. You are a champion on and off the court,” one person wrote.
“Continue using your platform, don’t worry about what people who have never experienced what its like to a person of color derail you, in America or Japan,” read another tweet.