Black Athletes Chasing History
The world of athletic competition outside of our North American “big three”of football, basketball and baseball has ever been an illusive space, negatively affected by the intersected realities of lack of national exposure and very real financial barriers when it comes to access.
However, we now live in a time where the pipelines of ingress are being widened, creating more space for diverse talent to emerge and injecting Black athletes into the winner’s circle.
Right now, there are more African Americans and people of African descent blazing through the record books en route to becoming the greatest of all-time in their respective sports – sports that have immense global appeal.
Still, they get meager coverage here in the United States.
However, we should still make an effort to highlight these athletes within our own communities, some of whom are already household names and others who are on the cusp of being known globally.
And if all the aforementioned context isn’t enough, what adds to the thrill is that the Black athletes must also be a voice for people of color, using their respective platforms to beat back the racial injustice in our country.
Let’s highlight two Black athletes who have found great success as of late:
Formula 1 Driver
Lewis Hamilton is on his way to becoming the most successful Formula 1 driver in the sport’s history, and he’s only 35 years old. He was born in England to a black British father and white British mother, and his six F1 World Championships are second to only Michael Schumacher’s seven. As of today, his 90 total race wins are second only to Schumacher’s 91, and incredibly, he has finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in 158 of his 259 races all-time. Considering he is in the prime of his career, he will smash nearly every major record in the sport, and as of late, he’s been doing it all while bringing attention to the Black plight in America, advocating for justice for Breonna Taylor and others.
Naomi Osaka, 22, is a 3-time tennis Grand Slam winner who recently won the 2020 US Open. She was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, and in recent months has poured her energy into bringing attention to racial injustice and police brutality in America, namely at this year’s US Open. Before each match, Osaka walked onto the court with the name of a Black man or woman that had been killed by police represented on her face mask, including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others.