American teen tennis star Coco Gauff has delivered a powerful call for action at a Black Lives Matter rally in Florida, where she implored people to engage in "tough conversations" in the wake of George Floyd' s death.
The death last week of African-American man Floyd - while in police custody in Minneapolis - has sparked protests and demonstrations across the United States and around the world.
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It has once again thrust the spotlight on the disturbing issue of police brutality towards the black community and reignited the 'Black Lives Matter' movement.
In a moving speech, Gauff urged the crowd outside Delray Beach City Hall to "use your voice" and speak out against racism.
The 16-year-old tennis star said racism is an issue that involves everyone and has no place in society.
Gauff called on her social media followers to campaign for justice in that case, and in her speech she repeated a message she shared earlier in the week: that "being silent is choosing the side of the oppressor."
She said it was "sad" she was having to deliver a message on injustices her grandmother fought against half a century ago.
"I'm here to tell you we must first love each other, no matter what. We must have the tough conversations with friends. I have spent all week having tough conversations and trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement," Gauff said.
"Second, we need to take action. Yes, we're all out here protesting and I am not of the age to vote — but it is in your hands to vote for my future, for my brothers' future and for your future, so that is one way to make change.
"Third, you need to use your voice: No matter how big or small your platform is, you need to use your voice."
"I've heard many things in the last week and one of the things I've heard is, 'It's not my problem.' This is why I have to tell you this: If you listen to black music, if you like black culture, if you have black friends, then this is your fight, too," Gauff added.
"It's not your job, it's not your duty, to open your mouth to say Lil Uzi Vert is my favorite artist but I don't care what happened to George Floyd? Now how does that make sense?
"So I demand change now. And it's sad that it takes another black man's life to be lost for all of this to happen, but we have to understand that this has been going on for years. This is not just about George Floyd. This is about Trayvon Martin. This is about Eric Garner. This is about Breonna Taylor.
"This is about stuff that's been happening."
Gauff responds to Federer's BLM support
Earlier in the week, Gauff suggested that Roger Federer should "educate" himself after responding to the Swiss star's support for the "BlackoutTuesday" movement.
Federer decided to show his support for the cause by joining the "BlackoutTuesday" campaign, with the Swiss leaving a love heart emoji alongside a plain black image on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.
It prompted a response from Gauff that included ways Federer can actually help in the fight for equality.
Among the suggestions for the Swiss ace were links where he could sign petitions or donate money to various causes associated with the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Gauff's response to Federer also included the statement: “When you’re done, educate yourself. This doesn’t go away once the topic isn’t ‘trending’.”
Respected tennis writer Ben Rothenberg applauded Gauff's reply to Federer, insisting that it will not only benefit the Swiss ace but potentially his millions of social media followers as well.
Credit to Coco Gauff for helping Federer’s post be useful. pic.twitter.com/IXeooU8xkH— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) June 2, 2020