Naomi Osaka: Who Gets to be Haitian?

By Valerie Jean Charles

If a person were to log on to social media two months ago around this time, they’d surely come across the sentiment “Africa has won the world cup” repeatedly. With 15 out of the 23 members of the victorious French national team stemming from countries across Africa and the Caribbean, the funny yet sobering idea wasn’t exactly so far-fetched.

Fast forward to this past weekend, and many of us find ourselves immersed in yet another similar round of debates. While Americans continue to ponder, dissect and discuss the aftershocks of the chair umpire’s blatant mistreatment of Serena Williams at the US Open, Haitians have been holding court with their own equally frustrating conversation resulting from the heated match.

At just 20 years old, Naomi Osaka has fulfilled her dream of playing and defeating her idol  Serena. As headlines across the world play up her Japanese roots – she is registered with the Japan Tennis Association — Osaka is quick to bring up her Haitian lineage, giving a shout-out to her father’s Haitian clan out on Long Island.

However, soon after her win, plenty of her own compatriots began questioning whether the rest of the dyaspora could celebrate this win as our own. Those unsettled by our selebrasyons for Naomi repeatedly asked how could we feel comfortable claiming her as our own when it was Japan, and not Haiti, who had gotten her to this moment.

Critiques became even more passionate when President Jovenel Moise expressed his congratulations to her, referring to the tennis star as “our Naomi”.

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Haitian Times

Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
Haitian Times
Sep. 12, 2018

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Naomi Osaka: Who Gets to be Haitian?”

  1. As Haitian, I am very proud of you Naomi Osaka.keeping the good work.
    Sabael J Destinvil

  2. Caleb Richelieu says:

    As a proud Haitian man, I’m so happy and proud of you Naomi Osaka regardless which heritage you choose to be recognized from. I’m happy for you and your dream that comes a reality today.

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