Naomi Osaka’s Japanese sponsor Nissin Foods apologizes for lightening Osaka’s skin in an anime-style ad.
The Haitian-Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka recently criticized one of her food sponsors, Nissin Foods Holdings, after they took down an online ad campaign that depicted the light brown-skinned Oska with pale skin after the ad was widely criticized for not accurately reflecting her bi-racial background.
“I’ve talked to them. They’ve apologized, “ Osaka said. “I’m tan. It’s pretty obvious.”
Osaka is hesitant to say that the ad tried to ‘whitewash’ her but, “I definitely think the next time they try to portray me or something, I feel like they should talk to me about it,” she told reporters in Melbourne, Australia as she prepares to meet Petra Kvitova in the finals of the Australian Open on Saturday.
Osaka will learn that no matter, she’s still a Black woman at the end of the day and subject to all of the psychological pain and negativity that Blacks must endure.
This reality makes Osaka’s rise to fame bittersweet. On the flip side, the daughter of a Japanese woman and Haitian father and a proud citizen of Japan has a chance to force her country to deal with some of the racism that is embedded in its own culture towards darker skinned people.
The 21-year-old 2018 US Open champ is considered the leading candidate to take the torch from Serena Williams, who’s had to fight for equality as a woman and an African-American in the white world of tennis throughout her two-decade rise to GOAT status.
According to the Daily News, “Daisuke Okabayashi, a spokesman for Japanese noodle maker Nissin Foods Holdings, said Thursday that the company meant no disrespect for diversity with the two animation clips that went up earlier and were deleted on Wednesday.”
They claim the ads were approved by Osaka’s agent who then asked for them to be removed.
The fact that Japanese advertisers felt the need to present Osaka as a lighter person speaks to the core of what is wrong not only in America but the world abroad. Some countries are still very prehistoric in how they want to portray people of color and can’t accept the fact that a dark-skinned person is considered a world changer and represents the best their country has to offer.
Osaka is a proud athlete of color and she represents the diversity within the Japanese community. She represents class, dignity and the unlimited potential of the youth of the world going forward. A world where people of different, ethnicities and races fall in love and make families and slowly shatter the bigotry that is so deeply embedded in the fabric of our country.
Japan should be embracing her ethnicity, not trying to hide it.
It’s a shame that Osaka could have such a positive impact on tennis, but the pigment of her skin makes her unmarketable in the minds of some Japanese influencers and advertisers.
By winning on Saturday, she can grow her legend and continue to educate and influence the world in a positive manner and force people to deal with real issues of racism.