Sports Magazine

White Ice: The Racism – Violence Connection

By Jimmydonuts

The NHL. Violent. Racist. Yet evolving—quickly enough?

Whiteness, the ice a collective reflection of the players, coaches and executive leadership, pervades the NHL.

Here in North America, and in other colonized countries, racism and violence go white hand in white hand. From slavery to the 1960s to today, too many white people like me have been silent, and thus compliant with the status quo of brutality against our black sisters and brothers. 

My skin is white. I’m biased. I’m prejudiced. I’ve discriminated. I’m privileged. I can change.

I’ve spoken out about the incongruity and hypocrisy of fighting in hockey. I hadn’t given any thought to the connection between on-ice violence and racism. Not until I started following the NHL’s Kim Davis, absorbed Megan Ming’s Ted Talk about the root of racial violence and started reading White Fragility.

As many in the hockey community seek answers and take action to address racism, I wonder how ready we are to accelerate the exit of violence in our game.

I’m no angel. I have used my body and stick as a weapon. I loved watching hockey fights as a kid. Even today, I sometimes see a Boston Bruin incur a cheap shot and think, get that guy and teach him a lesson.

Picture this: Rabid fans, pounding on the plexiglass as players launch their fists at each other. The definition of violence playing out in front of a crowd. Rage. Blood lust. Our children learn from us and repeat the cycle.

Just like systemic racism, white supremacy and microaggressions.

This is not about why players fight (mostly to protect teammates and sometimes just to “get the boys and the crowd going.”) This is not a rehash of “Should fighting be banned from hockey?” (It already is).

This is about a deep self-examination, a societal shift and our legacies.

How long are we going to recite “it’s part of the game” and, in the same breath, denounce black and other people of color for venting centuries of frustration with a deck that is stacked against them? For reacting to violence that white people taught and continue to teach them?

Will we continue to be part of the problem or consider other solutions?

Can we at least discuss a better way to eliminate racism andviolence, on and off the white ice?

I don’t have all the answers. I’ll keep searching for them and ask that you do the same.

To promote healing, let’s keep the conversation constructive, ok? We don’t have to agree. We must listen to each other.

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