Why Piers Morgan Needs To Stop Belittling Women Of Color Like Naomi Osaka And Meghan Markle

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Meghan Markle, Piers Morgan And Naomi Osaka

As the world praised Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open for reasons related to her mental health, one of the world’s most famous naysayers had a different perspective.

Piers Morgan penned a vicious criticism of the tennis star after she decided to not speak at press conferences during the tournament and later bowed out of the competition entirely.

In her statement, Osaka revealed that she has been dealing with “long bouts of depression” since 2018 and finds press conferences to be a strain on her anxiety.

Osaka’s peers, both in tennis and across the sporting industry offered support and praise for her withdrawal.

Serena Williams stated that she empathized with Osaka’s situation. NBA star Kyrie Irving, who has been vocal about the mistreatment of sports stars by the media and fans alike wrote on Instagram, "We are all with you, Queen. Just be you, that will always be enough."

These are among the most qualified people in the world to attest to how press conferences and media probing impact an athlete’s mental health.

Piers Morgan, who makes his money from criticizing people at their lowest points in life, has no place in this conversation.

Yet, he couldn’t help but label the four-time Grand Slam winner an “arrogant spoiled brat whose fame and fortune appears to have inflated her ego to gigantic proportions.”

Then, in typical Morgan fashion, he continued to exhibit what seems to be his ongoing obsession with Meghan Markle.

“This is straight out of the Meghan and Harry playbook of wanting to have the world's largest cake and eating it, by exploiting the media for ruthlessly commercial self-promotion but using mental health to silence any media criticism,” he wrote.

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The comparison between Osaka and Markle is somewhat weak, as the two women took quite different approaches to preserve their mental health.

Osaka bowed out of the media’s glare entirely, forfeiting her place in a competition to do so.

Markle chose to criticize the media while still occupying her space in the public eye on her own terms.

Yet both women became fodder for Morgan’s incessant hate-mongering.

What unites Markle and Osaka is a desire for autonomy, a want to put their own needs above what is expected of them.

If a woman refusing to do what she is told to is so horrifying to Morgan, perhaps he should just say that.

As always, Morgan’s vitriolic attack on Osaka couldn’t steer clear of being a gendered criticism.

He labeled one of the most successful athletes in the world the “most petulant little madam.”

This is similar to criticism he leveraged against Markle when he labeled her “self-obsessed.”

It’s the kind of language that is all too often used against successful women who are challenging the status quo.

But there’s an added dimension of misogynoir in Morgan's scathing articles, as it is difficult to believe it's a coincidence that both of Morgan’s targets are women of color.

He protested on Twitter that he would have taken the same stance if Osaka was white, then resorted to the classic, “I can’t be racist, I have Black friends” excuse, tweeting a photo of himself with Serena Williams.

But, Morgan’s criticism of two mixed-race women is jam-packed with racially biased undertones.

Both Markle and Naomi Osaka have had their racial identities questioned and diminished.

Morgan roots his attack in accusations of fakery from women hiding behind mental health problems and accuses his critics of playing “the race card.”

His comments are just another layer to the ongoing culture of disbelieving and delegitimizing the identities and experiences of women of color.

Black communities have a devastating history of suffering through mental illness in silence.

Only 30% of Black adults in need of mental health care receive it, in comparison to 48% of white adults.

Morgan’s solution to both Markle and Osaka’s openness about their mental health issues has been to tell them both to shut up and struggle through.

It sets the conversation about mental illness stigma back by about 10 years and tells other women of color not to bother seeking help or empathy because you won’t receive it.

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RELATED: Meghan Markle Files Formal Complaint As Piers Morgan Doubles Down

Of course, we can not overstate the irony of Morgan making this attack on Osaka after storming off the “Good Morning Britain” set when a weatherman dared to challenge his views on Markle.

Apparently, the right to avoid backlash is reserved only for men who want to undermine and belittle women.

In Morgan’s eyes, he can flee from negativity at a moment’s notice but Osaka must sit through every last question probing her place in her sport.

He writes that “nobody can point to anything that's ever happened in a Naomi Osaka press conference” insinuating that the media just haven’t been mean enough to justify Osaka’s boycott. Perhaps if she stuck around and allowed herself to be torn down he’d care.

Osaka, rather diplomatically, acknowledged her friendly relationship with some journalists while also stating, “I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”

She simply doesn’t want to be in the room when people dissect her playing, because let’s face it, they’re going to do it with or without her.

Morgan says that the “largely exultant and celebratory media coverage that's made Naomi Osaka a fabulously rich superstar.”

It’s true there is a symbiotic relationship between sports stars and the media but it’s entirely unfair to imply that Osaka needs press conferences more than they need her. Even if she never did another interview again people would most likely still tune in to watch Osaka do what she does best.

Osaka is a tennis player, not an entertainer. It’s not her job to answer questions.

In sport, media attention comes because of talent, not the other way around.

As usual, Morgan entirely misses the point these women are trying to make when they vocalize their mental health issues.

He shouts over an opportunity to praise someone for putting their mental health above societal expectations and stamps down on any important conversation around what we allow women to experience in the name of entertainment.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.