Serena is an important role model, but Naomi Osaka will be important to my daughter

Osaka's win doesn't diminish William's legacy, but it will inspire mixed-race children everywhere.

Serena is an important role model, but Naomi Osaka will be important to my daughter

Five months into my pregnancy, I began to grow excited. In a reserved way, in the only way a mother of 3 boys and a miscarriage survivor could be. More than a rainbow baby, my daughter would be the tie that bound our blended family together, merging African-American and Vietnamese-American culture.

As important as it is for me to see images resembling myself in popular media, I knew it would be equally important for my daughter. And now, she can see herself in Naomi Osaka.

Her win against 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the US Open finals doesn't diminish William's legacy, but it will inspire mixed-race children everywhere.

If representation is scarce as a minority, try being a minority within a minority. Examples of celebrities that look like my daughter are limited. Daughters like mine need to see women like Naomi Osaka celebrated in sports and entertainment.

Entering the tournament as the youngest of the world's Top 20, Osaka went on to beat Williams in a stunning win at the US Open. Yet, her win has been marred in controversy after Williams was accused of cheating by an overzealous umpire and penalized for her emotional outbursts that followed. To add insult to injury, Williams was subsequently fined $17K from the referee's office.

Public outrage continues to grow as some of the top names in tennis defend Williams and point out the disparities between how men and women are treated in the sport.

On Twitter, tennis great Billie Jean King commended Williams for "calling out this double standard", noting that "When a woman is emotional, she's 'hysterical' and she's penalized for it. When a man does the same, he's 'outspoken' and there are no repercussions."

In a follow-up for the Washington Post, King explained how disappointed she was to see sexism steal the thunder of this historic match.

"What was supposed to be a memorable moment for tennis, with Serena Williams, perhaps the greatest player of all time, facing off against Naomi Osaka, the future of our sport, turned into another example of people in positions of power abusing that power," King writes.

And this wasn't just about a young player challenging her childhood idol.

Despite the odds, Osaka and Williams are women that became world champions amid the intense pressure of being brown-skinned in a historically white sport.

Osaka's victory is a win for mixed-race children everywhere, but also a win for Japan in more ways than one. Mixed-race (hāfu) children are often discriminated against and made to feel like outsiders in their own countries and communities. This has been felt in my daughter's own family: Fathered by a white American soldier, my partner fled with his mother from Vietnam to the US to avoid being the target of violence.

More recently, in 2015, Ariana Miyamoto was ostracized after being crowned Miss Japan because she was born to a Japanese mother and African-American father. She spoke openly about being constantly bullied and called the n-word while growing up in Japan and became an advocate for others after a mixed-race friend committed suicide.

By contrast, Osaka's win was heralded by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and she has been embraced as a Japanese champion, gestures I can only hope signify changing attitudes in Japan. In America, racist rhetoric makes it unpopular for Black people to claim all aspects of our heritage. When they do, they are not considered Black enough. To her credit, Osaka has boldly corrected journalists that try to erase her Haitian heritage.

By choice, she identifies as a Black woman of Japanese and Haitian descent. I applaud her decision and hope others begin to respect her choice as well. As a Black mother with Haitian roots and half Asian children - including a brown-skinned, mocha-hued daughter with keen eyes and a long curly mane - I have added Osaka to the list of positive Black and Asian role models they can refer to.

For our daughters whom we are forced to guide through a misogynistic world, we can take as many lessons from Osaka's quiet fortitude as we can from Williams unapologetic self-advocacy.

More than a tennis tournament overshadowed by sexism, I hope the public will be inspired by Osaka's journey and all that she represents for mixed-race Asians.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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