The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, May 29, 2020
Today, let's listen
This won’t be your normal hockey edition of The IX. How can it be?
If I was tired of it all last week, I am beyond words to even begin to comprehend how I feel today. However, since I am the only Black writer on this staff, I am going to to call on my community and my ancestors.
You won’t be hearing about women’s hockey today. No signings, no cute features. Last week I asked: when will we listen?
So listen. Listen to the voices below. Hear what they say, and think about how to incorporate those lessons into your own lives.
I’d love to add more hockey athletes to the thread and links you’re going to see below, but hockey is still not a sport for everyone.
Hockey is not a space where athletes and allies have learned to use their voice consistently. Hockey is not a space where reporting on unpleasant experiences of fans is tolerated.
I’ve learned this first-hand.
A newsletter about women’s hockey is about a lot more than women’s hockey.
Don’t take it from me. You will see what Black people in the hockey space are saying.
To the allies, I see you and appreciate you. But today I am making space for Black voices only.
Blake Bolden with a reminder of how long this has been going on.
Minnesota native JT Brown was the latest guest on the Soul on Ice Podcast.
I appreciate Marcus Thompson II calling on the words of James Baldwin in his latest for The Athletic. In an interview with WBAI, Baldwin said the following:
“The first thing, the first difficulty, is really so simple it’s usually overlooked. To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time — and in one’s work.
And part of the rage is this: It isn’t only what is happening to you. But it’s what’s happening all around you and all of the time in the face of the most extraordinary and criminal indifference, indifference of most white people in this country, and their ignorance. Now, since this is so, it’s a great temptation to simplify the issues under the illusion that if you simplify them enough, people will recognize them. I think this illusion is very dangerous because, in fact, it isn’t the way it works. A complex thing can’t be made simple. You simply have to try to deal with it in all its complexity and hope to get that complexity across.”
Thompson goes on to explain the realization of silence across his timeline. He explains going from interactions about The Last Dance to nothing. Nothing as his rage has nowhere to go, his usual receptacles already full to the brim.
Like Thompson, I don’t know what I want to hear from allies, or if I want to hear from them at all. Truth be told, the closest I’ve been to my full rage is because of tone deaf tweets from allies. Ultimately, I opted to reach out to these allies calmly, yet firmly. Instead of writing my immediate thought — “Shut the fuck up!” — I found other words.
I am thankful to those who took time to listen. For those who haven’t found their voice amid yet another wave of Black pain, here is what Thompson recommends:
“Don’t look away.
As a society, for one, we must stop ignoring the reality of this rage. You should not look away.
Look around at the sports world. The very athletes we typically shroud with affection, with all their wealth and fame, can’t shake the rage, either. Today’s athlete is arguably as conscious as ever, especially the sheer volume of athletes who are intentionally so. These days, they are voicing it as a collective perhaps in greater volume than ever before. To not listen, to not watch, to turn away, is essentially affirming the very foundational ideology that produces the rage. It is all born of the frustration and anger of being human yet not being fully recognized for that. Of knowing that one’s intrinsic value is being disregarded and routinely stripped. I’m not even sure if she notices, but my wife says the same line every time this experience is brought back to the forefront: ‘Wow. They really hate us, huh?’ It is chilling and haunting every time because somewhere, usually unbeknownst to us, and likely more often than even we’d guess, the answer is yes.”
I am linking the article yet again here. Please, read this!
Tweets of the Week
Canadian National Team and PWHPA member Sarah Nurse:
Hockey Night in Canada Host David Amber:
Recommended reading posted by Black Girl Hockey Club:
Akim Aliu thanks everyone for the loving responses to his Players’ Tribune piece:
Akim also responded to the NHL’s statement in the wake of his Players’ Tribune piece:
Another reminder, you can always be a good ally: