Fighting racism is society’s job

BC Hockey’s plan to provide an education package makes a good first step

It takes courage to stand up and speak out against things that are wrong, particularly when you or your family are targets of that injustice or wrongdoing.

But the mom who spoke out regarding a racist remark made to her son did so not to punish, but to educate and raise awareness of racism in sport. The remark was alleged to have been made by a Salmon Arm player to her son who was on a Kamloops team during a Bantam Tier 3 playoff game in Sicamous in February.

The mom noted that a lot of people said to her regarding the incident that they ‘didn’t know this sort of thing still happens in 2018.’ As she pointed out, it’s white ‘advantage’ or privilege that leaves some people unaware of these racist behaviours.

If they don’t happen to you, you don’t see them – so they don’t happen. But, they certainly do happen.

B.C. minor hockey associations have since vowed to take steps to eliminate such behaviour.

The CEO of BC Hockey has said that education packages will be made available prior to the 2018/19 season and will be aimed at parents, players, officials and administrators.

“This is an issue BC Hockey takes very seriously and it is felt that further education on the issue will be of benefit to our participants,” said CEO Barry Petrachenko.

This is a great step. And to make it an even better step, BC Hockey must enlist people who aren’t white to decide what makes sense in terms of education. Having the people who experience racism in some form every day – whether it be systemic or individual targeting – decide what kind of education should be provided and how it should be delivered, is also a step against racism. Otherwise it’s really just more of the same. White folks deciding what’s best for the rest.

The other approach that the Kamloops mom took is worth emphasizing. Her aim was not to punish.

When the hockey players were asked who made the remark, no one would admit to it. They were expecting punishment or humiliation.

The solution truly is education – and it needn’t come only in the form of an education package for minor hockey players.

Fighting oppression works best when it’s done by many people in many different ways.

We can all play a part.

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