Silence in times like these can be telling, especially within the hockey community.
On May 19th, Akim Aliu published a story in The Player's Tribune titled, "Hockey is Not for Everyone." Aliu, who has spent time in the ECHL, AHL, and NHL, shared his story of racial abuse as he progressed through his career from coaches, teammates, and fans.
It's simple: the hockey community must do better. Racism is simply unacceptable. If hockey is truly for everyone, like the NHL says, they need to commit to change. Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly have said in recent weeks and months that the league is working with Aliu and other players to make the game better in that regard. Only time will tell if we see the fruits of their labor.
Six days after Aliu's story was published, George Floyd died after having his neck knelt on for almost nine minutes by a police officer. Three other police officers stood by and watched. Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill, and was killed because of it.
Protests erupted nationwide and are are still occurring as we speak. Here's what some notable Blue Jackets voices had to say about it, starting with captain Nick Foligno:
The Blue Jackets put out a statement that, well, covered the bases.
Seth Jones retweeted a Tupac quote:
Facts https://t.co/X84THni7Cb— Seth Jones (@seth_jones3) May 31, 2020
GM Jarmo Kekalainen chimed in:
The mirror is a great place to start assessing input on making the world a better place...— Jarmo Kekalainen (@jkekalainen) June 1, 2020
Goaltending prospect Peter Thome had some words, as well:
There is no better time to be an ally for the black community, and it's been disheartening to not see more Blue Jackets speak up and use their platforms. Change needs to happen, and we all need to be behind it.
Long before any public statements were made, Alexander Wennberg retweeted Sharks captain Logan Couture's heartfelt message of support. Cam Atkinson and Pierre-Luc Dubois took to Instagram Tuesday morning as part of the #blackouttuesday movement, as well.
Desmond Tutu said it best: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
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