Where are we really?

Again, this is supposed to be a hoops blog, but there are just some things that need to be discussed really. Some things that get under your skin, and that you can’t help but feel passionate about. A few days ago, I felt just this feeling. It took me a day to calm down about it just so I could write say my piece.

For those of you who aren’t keeping up with the NHL playoffs, and more specifically the Washington Capitals, the DC based hockey team defeated the world champion Boston Bruins a few days ago with a game winning goal in the waning moments of overtime. The game winning goal was scored by Capital right wing Joel Ward.

Ward, a Black man, was born in Toronto, Canada and is of Barbadian(Barbados) decent. He has had a journeyman’s career so far in the NHL playing for the Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, and most recently the Washington Capitals. Not to mention his tours through the many other various hockey leagues just to get noticed.

In this past NHL season, Ward had registered only 18 points in 73 games which is assists and goals combined. He didn’t see that much time on the ice with the Capitals, but when his name was called he would do his job. Ward is one of the few active hockey players that are of African decent which made it even more of a surprise that he would score the game winning goal against the former NHL champions.

Being a Black man myself, I was proud of Ward’s accomplishment. For one second, it felt like the Black culture had chipped the ice, no pun intended, when it came to the NHL. A Black man actually had a place on the ice and he played a significant role when his number was called upon. This will be one of the most memorable moments in DC sports, maybe the NHL as a whole, history. I couldn’t help but feel great for Joel and great for our race. There was an intangible connection there that you can only get from that racial connection that you have with someone else. Joel and I, and a lot of others, had that connection a few nights ago. I can’t put into words how amazing that moment was for me.

Once the goal was scored, keep in mind how late at night it was, I arose off of my couch in joy and jumped up and down. “JOEL WARD!?!?” I said over and over again. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was an exciting moment, especially for a guy who isn’t as much of a hockey buff as he would like to be. Racial identification definitely played a role in that excitement and I’m proud to say that it did. It shows that the Black culture isn’t just pigeon-holed into playing football or basketball or running track.

I’ve always told myself that if I ever had a son, I’d buy him a tool from every sport. I’d get him a basketball, a football, a soccer ball, we’d play baseball, we’d play hockey, and we’d skate together. I want my son to have a choice in what sport he plays, if he plays at all. There would be no boundaries or no embarrassment because of a racial barrier. He, or she even, could do what they please. I would have no problem with it whatsoever as long as the game was played fairly, honestly, and with respect. Later that night after Ward scored his goal, though, I had reservations about that for the first time. I was downright disturbed, even, because of the backlash that Ward had faced after scoring the goal.

Not too long after that captivating moment, I had noticed this tweet by Mike Prada, the senior writer of Bullets Forever. It showed the reaction of the twitterverse after Ward scored his goal. Please, excuse some of what you’re about to see or are already seeing. These are not my words, but the reaction of those from twitter.

Charlie Cobb @Skoal_Banditt
Joel ward you fucking nigger you suck 6 goals all season you fucking plug nigger bitch
25 Apr 12

Chase Coulso n@K1NGOFCRAZY
Joel Ward is the first nigger to score in game 7 overtime
25 Apr 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite

Zach Silva™ @ZachSilva2
Well prime example of the nigger rule from NHL 12. Fuck you Joel ward
25 Apr 12

shea flanagan @sheaflanagan3
Joel ward is a fuckin nigger #FuckYou
25 Apr 12

Adam Begos@Begos_8
Joel Ward your a nigger. Holtby, get a life. I never wanna see Tim Thomas in a bruins jersey ever again #washedup #bum

After reading these tweets, I can honestly say that I was sick to my stomach. I didn’t know how to react. Initially, I was shocked to see such language, such venom, at a man who was just playing a game. Then I was disappointed. I was disappointed in the reactions of those individuals, who weren’t the only ones who tweeted such language, that showed such hatred for a Black man who did nothing more than win a game fair and square. They say that competition brings out the worst in people, but I had no clue that things were still this bad.

At this point, I found myself asking what has to be done for a Black man to be accepted into a fraternity that he isn’t normally involved with? What has to be done for my children and their children to be able to do what they want, equal to any individual that has ever wanted to think outside of the box and do something that isn’t common among their peers? There has to be something that can make things better, because that behavior wasn’t right. It has no place in this time, and no place in this World. People who behave like we’re still pre-1865 sicken me. We’re in the year of 2012 and racism is still alive in society where equality is preached. Its fine to be able to identify to someone of your race, but to bash someone because of their race is wrong. To call names, to threaten, and to demean the character of another being is wrong no matter what race, religion, or ethnicity you are. A life is a life, when are we going to treat it that way?

Where are we at right now? I took the time to write this because I don’t want anyone else to feel what I felt last night when reading those tweets. They almost brought me to tears literally; I don’t get emotional for anything. Those are degrading and demeaning statements that need to be abolished from our society. What are we going to do? Are you going to read this and say nothing or are you going to let your voice be heard? I know what I’m going to do. I refuse to be silent and let these things go by the wayside; Joel Ward isn’t going to let this stop him from playing the game he loves and I applaud him for that. Are you going to support him, or are you going to just let this go?

We need justice in all corners of the globe, and it can start with you. I ask you, please, don’t ever let people say things to degrade anyone. Please stand up and stand tall for what is right, and please let your voice be heard. Thank you.


7 responses to “Where are we really?

  1. Pingback: » Where Are We Really? » Tin Can Robot·

  2. Great post. I’ve always like Joel Ward and was happy he got the OT winner. It is sad some fans had to use an ugly racist term to describe Ward. The NHL has tried to open its arms to more black players, and it is coming along slowly. Ward will get through this.

  3. It’s sad that angry Bruins fans are ignorant and classless enough to express their unfiltered thoughts in a manner like this on twitter. Just horrible. Good article Mike.

    I also think hockey is actually really opening to black players. There are more and more coming and people have really opened their eyes to them. You look at a guy like Evander Kane on the former Atlanta Thrashers and now Winnipeg Jets face of the franchise. He is one of the best young and upcoming NHL players, and I think people are expanding their view. It’s just unthinkable that people could be callous enough to still resort to racism simply after a lost game but at the same time this is only a small, very ignorant part of the population and I have a feeling that most people were really happy to see Joel Ward (at least my facebook feed was lol) knock down the defending Stanley Cup Champs.

  4. As a black man and a longtime Washington Capitals fan, I can honestly say the reaction to Joel Ward scoring the series-winning goal is disappointing but not surprising. Nothing in the whole episode is particularly surprising except Ward’s comments saying he’s heard very little in the way of racially charged comments from other players. Professional hockey is notorious for players saying anything to other players and coaches. I will also say the comments expressed on Ward’s Twitter page can’t be directly attributed to Bruins fans, although many people might feel that way. Oddly enough, the Bruins introduced the NHL’s first black player; the NHL made a big deal of this on it’s 50th anniversary back in 2010. As far as race relations, Americans make a big deal out of Barack Obama’s ascent to US President. It’s laughable the public believed racism was dead because of this singular event. Not hardly. It’s actually gone more underground, and less attributable…especially on the Internet. Hey, when racism was overt, at least you knew where people stood. Now the person standing next to you might have been a Klansman 50 years ago and you’d never know it.

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