Jessica Luther, Naomi, Serena Williams discussed on Democracy Now! Audio


On these athletes with talk questions. Yeah absolutely. I think this is a really key question. Historically these pressures have absolutely been to grow the league to get interest to have partnerships with sponsors. And that's the function they've served particularly growing leagues. Women's leagues have used this access in really important ways in terms of growth. One of the conversations that has been happening is is is has outlived its function because many people feel like. It's redundant questions. It's poking and prodding. I talked to my co host jessica luther in many journalists who were wrestling with this other ways. Because i think that they see a possibility in these pressures where there is access where there is not prescribed questions where there is a chance to actually perhaps hold people accountable or ask questions that might have been otherwise. Pushed aside by handlers. I'm gonna. I think that that is really valid but also idealized way of how these pressures actually function to your point. The media is overwhelmingly way overwhelm. The older will overwhelmingly male. There's a fight for her marginalize sports report ac- even in those rooms. I'm and i think that the dynamic within those spaces doesn't live up to this kind of ideal of accountability access and oftentimes becomes about quickly turning out and perpetuating narratives asking the same question and then it sticks in their one of the things they only said was. I've been battling depression since the us open in two thousand eighteen. Right which is when she says serena and Launched onto the scene one one that slam but of course there was a narrative about three knows actions during the match. She was crying fans were booing her and every time they play every time she's back does open this gets regurgitated questions about it and i think it's very telling that she pointed that out because it points to this point about how these narratives right continue and continue and continue With little you know stopping to consider what harm or what cost to the athlete. And yet it was serena who was among the superstars who came out in support of naomi. Osaka this is what she said. The only thing i feel is that i feel for naomi. I feel like. I wish i could give her a hug. 'cause i know what it's like like i said i've been in those positions we have different personalities and people are different. Not everyone is the same. I'm thick you know other people are dead and so everyone is different in. Everyone handles things differently. So you know you just have to let her handle it the way she wants to. In the best way that she thinks she can and That's the only thing i can say. I think she's doing the best that she can. So that serena williams and of course. The williams sisters really helping among a few other african americans in tennis to break the color barrier in what was a really white sport and the significance Professor of naomi osaka and descendant of well as japanese. Her father haitian american She is a black woman who is breaking so many barriers. I think she's the highest paid woman athlete in the world. Right now What this means the kind of pressure being brought on her and if young african american women see even her she gets fine. She even said on those fines that the french open applied to her. She asked that they be given to mental health organizations. The money they made off of her. Yeah absolutely i mean. I think there's two really important things here that you just brought up one absolutely. Naomi has been in this tennis. Space that we know has had a great deal of scrutiny. For venus and serena williams for sloan through our cocoa gov for for herself in a myriad of ways And i think that entering into that space you are moments where i only tried to disrupt kind of conventional narratives they're pushed back at even framing of questions When people said all your japanese always around them to she's haitian she insisted on her blackness being recognized when she wore masks and terminal the astern. Postgame well what does it mean. What do these masked means you. And she explained this talked about this before and she said well. What does it mean to you. She flipped back on the report. And i think that there are. These were the ways that she had already slightly disrupted our when she stopped playing last august with a number of other athletes instead. There's more important things to do than for you to watch me play tennis. So we've already seen her take on this role and kind of push the status quo in these ways. But i think it really is important to map this onto to other conversations. One is black athletes Who are continuing to insist on their humanity being recognized. Who continue to say we're not just here to entertain you and to push back on what is seen as entitlement. What people are owed of their labor and athletes are saying. My labor is my citizens on the court. But you're already privy to my way to my to my injury history to my body and then also to my mind with these probing questions and whether it's protesting or speaking out about fan abuse which we're seeing using as well or this conversation and i always having the underlying point that they're pushing back on through these moments is to say we are fully human and this is our job and we don't have to actually go along with racial abuser. We don't have to sacrifice our mental health. And i think that's a really important on through line that we see happening here so you can look at people like marshawn lynch kyrie irving natasha cloud. Who refuse to do. Wnba pressures unless they were about gun. Violence employs brutality. As a kind of Longer history of that but that second part about black women is also really important to there's ongoing conversations about black women's mental health on. We saw this topic also come up. When megan markle disclosed her depression anxiety. And i think that this is a really important growing conversation. Some people some social scientists have called mental health crisis that the trope of a strong black woman who's tasked with doing labor who simultaneously hyper visible and invisible. Means that there's really high rates of depression of anxiety and too often not enough mechanisms for help a very low number black women therapy providers for instance and so i think that part that point array of what this conversation does how it moves the needle and how these black women celebrities and athletes can play a really important role in pushing that conversation as well. We want to thank you so much. Mirrors davis for joining us assistant professor of history and women's gender and sexuality studies at penn state. University co host of the sports podcast. Burn it all down and boy what What a only said in her silence last year at the us open donning seven masks bearing the name of a black person who was killed. Brianna taylor mclean. I'm at arbery. Martin george floyd for landau castille and tamir rice. Almost all killed by police when we come back. We look at the link between.

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