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Abel to Yzerman

Racism Rears Its Ugly Head In The Givani Smith Incident

from Curtis Rush of the New York Times,

The troubling incident rocketed around the hockey world: Givani Smith, a black player in a top junior league, needed a police escort to a recent playoff game after online threats and racist taunts from fans.

Smith, 20, a forward with the Kitchener Rangers and a Detroit Red Wings prospect, is one of only about a dozen black players among the roughly 500 players in the Ontario Hockey League, one of three major junior hockey leagues in Canada for players ages 16 to 20 who often go on to N.H.L. careers.

For decades, black hockey players at all levels have experienced incidents of racial abuse. “A lot of players of color go through this,” Smith’s agent, G.P. Daniele of TPG Hockey, lamented. “It’s almost par for the course. It’s unfortunate.”

But the level of abuse directed at Smith so concerned the O.H.L. commissioner, David Branch, that he requested the police escort, a move he had not felt obligated to take before....

“Obviously, it’s disgusting that people do that to another human being,” Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said. “We support Givani. He’s a tremendous young man. We think he’s a really good prospect for us. He had a tremendous playoff. It’s about what you do on the ice. He’s a committed athlete, and we’re thrilled to have him in our organization. We’ve talked to him since the incident and made sure he understands we’re there to support him.”

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Comments

ilovehomers's avatar

None of this should be a thing in 2018.

Posted by ilovehomers on 05/09/18 at 07:17 PM ET

Canucklehead's avatar

As someone originally from the Soo, it’s embarrassing to hear about this.  But unfortunately not entirely surprised.

And, yeah, you’re right ilovehomers, this should not be a thing in 2018.

Posted by Canucklehead from Ottawa, Ontario on 05/09/18 at 07:25 PM ET

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It shouldn’t but sentiments are strong as ever.  My wife and son and I are a multicultural, multiracial family.  Its unfortunately commonplace.  What seems to have become acceptable is to just not to say it in front of whoever they are dispariaging.

But what can I do? Get into an altercation 5 times a day?  Not the best example for my son.  All you can do is be more squared away than the idget, more motivated to be an exceptional person.

Posted by ThatGuy on 05/09/18 at 07:27 PM ET

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As someone who is white bread who is married to a Hispanic woman, believe me when I tell you that racism is alive and well these days.

You don’t see white nationals parading down the streets in a sign of unity…

Posted by neffernin on 05/09/18 at 07:38 PM ET

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The idea of racism has been weaponized and it’s a damn shame there are idiots out there feeding it.

Posted by SlimChance on 05/09/18 at 11:55 PM ET

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Awful and juniors are basically kids, barely paid. Total shame on the so-called adults.

Posted by mtta on 05/10/18 at 12:04 AM ET

dougie's avatar

“Ignorance is the basic building block of the Universe”. I think Frank Zappa said that, but I am too lazy to Google it this morning. Too lazy to Google? Now THAT’s a scary thought!

Posted by dougie on 05/10/18 at 07:22 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Sadly the Soo has a history with this, right John Vanbiesbrouck?

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 05/10/18 at 08:20 AM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

The idea of racism has been weaponized

I agree. Racism + credible threats of violence is a horrible thing in today’s society.

Posted by ilovehomers on 05/10/18 at 08:58 AM ET

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It wouldn’t surprise me if racism is what started this whole thing in the first place. Perhaps racist comments directed at him is why Smith made his suspension worthy gesture as he skated past the bench.

It’s bad enough that people talk trash based on the color of someones skin, make fun of someone’s accent or stereotype based on someone’s ethnic background. But to resort to death threats and threats of physical harm. That’s just disgusting and pathetic.

Posted by evileye on 05/10/18 at 10:31 AM ET

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Posted by evileye on 05/10/18 at 10:31 AM ET

That seemed to be what Horcoff was saying.  They talked to him initially about controlling his emotions and then Horcoff was made aware of the history of what hes dealt with this series and reached back out to let him know they are there to support him.

Either way, I can’t wait for him to make the team.  I love his moxy and mental toughness.

Posted by ThatGuy on 05/10/18 at 12:05 PM ET

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Avatar
The idea of racism has been weaponized and it’s a damn shame there are idiots out there feeding it.

Posted by SlimChance on 05/09/18 at 11:55 PM ET

It’s always been a weapon.  Academics taught there were even different species like negroids and hammites before genetics proved were all the same. 

Problem is with how many of the old boys club just shrug it off.  How they grew up and all.  TBH it’s always an older white man who do the look around before getting old school, not knowing my wife is a black muslim.

Posted by ThatGuy on 05/10/18 at 12:09 PM ET

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I was speaking more about using the accusations of racism to attack people who simply don’t agree with someone politically or socially. Then small acts of stupidity like racial name and twitter threats encourage the idiots from the other side to go bonkers.  It’s an ugly cycle.

Posted by SlimChance on 05/10/18 at 12:25 PM ET

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But what can I do? Get into an altercation 5 times a day?  Not the best example for my son.  All you can do is be more squared away than the idget, more motivated to be an exceptional person.
Posted by ThatGuy on 05/09/18 at 07:27 PM ET

Guy, I too am from a multi-cultural/religious family. Assuming you are like me, the white male, I suggest you take every opportunity to have a conversation first about racism and if it comes to fighting/arguing then you do it for the sake of your kids (and others). They need to know that you full support them and are willing to use your privilege as a shield to protect them. I know it is hard to do all the time and we will fail (a lot), but that should not stop us from trying. IMO, we owe it to our kids so they feel safe with us and they can be proud of us for doing what is right.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 05/10/18 at 12:33 PM ET

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As someone who is white bread who is married to a Hispanic woman, believe me when I tell you that racism is alive and well these days.
You don’t see white nationals parading down the streets in a sign of unity…
Posted by neffernin on 05/09/18 at 07:38 PM ET

People sure mess up a lot. I see it too, I do it too. But we can’t be too quick to label people as racist. Pointing out their behavior as a problem is a good way disarm a conflict. People may not like hearing they have done something wrong, but once you start labeling a person is when they get defensive.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 05/10/18 at 12:35 PM ET

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The idea of racism has been weaponized and it’s a damn shame there are idiots out there feeding it.
Posted by SlimChance on 05/09/18 at 11:55 PM ET

This is why white people need to use their privilege as a weapon to fight racism. Once white people understand they have a lot to lose (and put it on the line) they seem to become more empathetic.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 05/10/18 at 12:37 PM ET

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It wouldn’t surprise me if racism is what started this whole thing in the first place. Perhaps racist comments directed at him is why Smith made his suspension worthy gesture as he skated past the bench.
It’s bad enough that people talk trash based on the color of someones skin, make fun of someone’s accent or stereotype based on someone’s ethnic background. But to resort to death threats and threats of physical harm. That’s just disgusting and pathetic.
Posted by evileye on 05/10/18 at 10:31 AM ET

Of course it did. I truly believe that we see a lot of hockey players of color play with an edge to their game because they have to fight an extra battle every time the get on the ice. From the beginning I have excused Smith’s antics because it is certain he is experiencing racist comments every time he gets on the ice for a game and probably even when he skates with his teammates.

What angers me the most is that his teammates are unwilling to stand in for him and fight back. As an ally, they should be jumping in every time. They should be in front of Smith every time another player or fan says something. It’s the same as my comment to ThatGuy. Privilege is white people’s strongest power when supporting people of color. Use it or be an enabler. That’s how I feel.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 05/10/18 at 12:43 PM ET

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Posted by SlimChance on 05/10/18 at 12:25 PM ET

So minorities brought it on themselves?

Heard a white guy at work tell a mixed kid he was just joking about a joke he made, that hes not really black.  Hes got a black sister in law himself but until you start living with it as part of your day it’s hard to even realize tendencies you might have. 

I’m not discounting it doesn’t happen.  I believe it’s a crutch used a lot of times.. but to say that’s what led the other guys to be racist is untrue.

Posted by ThatGuy on 05/10/18 at 02:22 PM ET

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Not saying that at all and I’m not discounting real racism. Typing a quick comment can’t cover everything but my point is more about the cottage industry of finding racism everywhere and in everyone that doesn’t kowtow to every demand and accept every accusation made by race baiters.

I reject the idea racism is as bad as it’s ever been and think people that push the idea have vested interests in keeping the lie alive. What is unfortunate is when,  like in Smith’s case and some of the experiences of people here, name calling and keyboard warriors give fuel to the bomb throwers instead of simply treating them like the name callers like the idiots they are.

Having teammates jump up every time a racist comment is made seems like it strengthens the insult rather than ignoring it on the ice and exposing it afterward in a different forum. I don’t think we disagree it’s wrong only on how best to deal with it.

Posted by SlimChance on 05/10/18 at 02:56 PM ET

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I agree that the “keyboard warriors” (lol) should be ignored more often and I’m also tired of hearing idiotic tweets etc trotted out as some type of evidence society is failing or getting worse.

However, I don’t think anyone has a “vested interest” in keeping “the lie alive”. Nobody’s banking cash extrapolating racist comments.

And, please keep in mind that individuals are actually victimized by racist tweets, words do hurt feelings and people are made to feel badly because of crap people say.

People shouting racist comments at a hockey game is wrong and anyone getting combative with perpetrators is absolutely right. All you can do is if you hear something racist, tell that person off, find a way to shun them and enforce your social mores, as opposed to sitting back and tolerating it.

Since this is sports and these are kids, it is supposed to be fun on some level not traumatizing.

Posted by mtta on 05/10/18 at 11:41 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I think the bigger problem here is that the opponent BENCH was the one allegedly shouting racist comments, and the OHL has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it.  No pulbic comment, no investigation…. nothing.

But by God, they suspend Smith for responding to it.

At that point, you have to kinda’ take the logical next step that the OHL itself is racist.

Posted by Primis on 05/11/18 at 09:06 AM ET

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I think the bigger problem here is that the opponent BENCH was the one allegedly shouting racist comments

Posted by Primis on 05/11/18 at 09:06 AM ET

The one source I saw mentioned comments coming from “behind the bench”, which was both unclear as to which team’s bench and also as to whether is was a coach or a fan.

Posted by EthrDemon on 05/11/18 at 01:03 PM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com