‘Before I am an athlete, I am a Black Woman’

Christina M. Tapper
Published in
4 min readAug 28, 2020



Though it was brief, this week’s historic work stoppage in sports demonstrated the power of not participating in spaces that rely on your talent yet do little to nothing to address your anguish. We saw that when players from the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court in a playoff game Wednesday to protest police violence. The team’s home arena is less than an hour from Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man was shot seven times by cops. Other NBA squads followed suit, as did teams in three other sports, including the WNBA. Tennis star Naomi Osaka also joined the work stoppage, announcing that she would not play Thursday night.

“Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman,” she wrote in a post. “And as a Black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.”

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As we reel from the continual indignities and violence against Black people at the hands of the police and vigilantes, Wednesday’s athlete strike reminds us to never underestimate the power that each of us have. The power to literally press pause and draw attention to issues paramount to our livelihood. The power in reminding folks who we are before we don the titles and labels of our jobs.

WNBA players kneel on the court after teams collectively decided to postpone games, in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, at Feld Entertainment Center on August 26, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida.

“We are not powerless. We are indispensable despite all atrocities of state and corporate policy to the contrary,” Poet June Jordan wrote in her essay Civil Wars. “We have the power to stop the courtesies and let the feelings be real… At the very least, if we cannot control things we certainly can mess them up.”

Jordan’s words ring true for many athletes, especially Black female athletes whose commitment to resistance cannot be overlooked. Wednesday was just one example in a long history of Black female athletes’ impact. Just look at the work and actions of Rose Robinson, Wyomia Tyus, the Minnesota Lynx, Nneka Ogwumike, Maya Moore, and Gwen Berry to see Black women have been doing this work.

While there are some privileges that come with their platforms, we know Black women in sports have a lot more to lose than male athletes. Yet, they keep speaking up and pushing back. Showing us that we should always lean into our power.

Even if it means messing things up.

Take care,
Christina M. Tapper, ZORA deputy editor


Zero to 💯

Who kept it 100 this week? Let’s take a look.

Breonna Taylor on the cover of Vanity Fair’s September issue: 90 /💯
Though the memeification of Breonna Taylor’s image and death has been the source of a lot of controversy, the cover art by famed painter Amy Sherald and the interviews with Taylor’s family make this an A in our books.

Garcelle Beauvais becoming a new co-host on The Real: 50/💯
The actress and model has been added as a full-time host following Tamera Mowry-Housley departure. We’re excited for fresh blood but we have to wait and see what she brings to the table.

Brandy and Monica on Verzuz: 💯/💯
It’s the battle all 90’s kids and R&B lovers have been waiting for. We’ll be tuning in just to see who gets to play “The Boy Is Mine.”

I May Destroy You season finale: 💯/💯
No spoilers here, but be prepared for a daring ending. The episode will make you rethink what it means to find closure—if it really exists at all.

Melania’s speech at the RNC (honestly the whole RNC): 🚮
No matter how much she talks about kindness and unity, her husband and his staff are still gaslighting the nation. Just throw the whole administration away.

The Best of Us

ICYMI, here are some of our favorite ZORA stories

For National Black Breast Feeding Awareness week, writer Nina Bahadur spoke with experts and mamas about overcoming the stigma (and discrimination) that discourages Black moms from breastfeeding.

Black women like Megan Thee Stallion continue to be objectified instead of protected. This piece from Shanita Hubbard outlines why enough is enough.

“The death of Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement’s resurgence have provided a new sense of clarity to the Black community about our social circles.” (From Momentum)

Cottagecore is letting Black women live their best plant mama lives despite its complicated history. Get hip to this growing trend.

Need some advice to get you through the day? The ZORA Check-in has you covered! ZORA editors are sharing their experiences and tips to deal with life’s challenges. Check in with us!

🗣️ The Last Word 🗣️

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” — Alice Walker

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Christina M. Tapper
Writer for

Rule breaker, champion of women and education, and recovering sports journalist.