Y’all are making me mad. So mad that I’ve adopted a Southern accent for this post and I’m from the Pacific Northwest. And by “y’all,” I mean the NHL. The league and its clubs said they were ready to listen and learn so they could be part of the solution. I don’t know what you have been listening to and learning about but y’all are slow learners! You’ve got NWSL players kneeling. WNBA players staying in the locker room for the anthem. NBA players answering every media question with Breonna Taylor’s name. The Toronto Maple Leafs wore Black Lives Matter shirts during training camp, which seemed promising, but then for Day 1, this is what we got:
The Penguins and Flyers thought that standing one white guy with an orange jersey next to a white guy wearing a white and yellow jersey would be a statement of “solidarity” against police brutality. The Bruins think that linking arms as if it’s a game of Red Rover is a form of “solidarity” against institutionalized racism. What these shows of “solidarity” illustrate is that the NHL continues to have no idea what the problem is because the problem is white folks being comfortable with the status quo.
Make no mistake, kneeling has very quickly become a performative act but it is apparently still meaningful enough that it is too uncomfortable for many white athletes to perform. So, if kneeling is uncomfortable for you – DO IT. If raising a fist to salute Black power is uncomfortable for you – DO IT. If standing at the blue line next to your opponent seems reasonable, that’s a very good sign that it’s also not very helpful. BIPOC need white folks to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That means looking at the words Black Lives Matter when they would rather not think about race, saying the words, and following in the footsteps of what your Black colleagues and friends have decided is meaningful to them. If BIPOC are rolling their eyes at you and white fans are applauding you — you’re doing it wrong.
There is so much free advice floating around on social media and yet it seems that no one who is paid to implement any of this advice has found it. The last two months have unequivocally proven that the NHL can no longer hide behind Kim Davis as a shield. One Black woman is not enough to fix what is institutionally incorrect.
If you don’t want to listen to the women of the WNBA then listen to Saroya Tinker:
Again, we know that putting Black Lives Matter on the ice or on the rink boards would be performative and not the solution. But you haven’t even shown us that you’re ready for performative allyship, so how can we trust that you can handle more legitimate changes?