|Joel Ward (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
At Gloucester (Mass.) High School, at least three student-athletes and two other students are under investigation. "Like many districts and communities, we received word that individual students might have been involved in making inappropriate remarks online following the hockey game," superintendent Richard Safier told the Gloucester Times. "We are conducting a full investigation and will consider whether disciplinary action is warranted, and whether the schools have jurisdiction." Safier added that the school would implement a "strong educational component" that examined all implications of such acts. The Times said two of the students in question had since deleted their Twitter accounts.One student, prompted by his mother, has already apologized, and another student from New Hampshire's Franklin Pierce University offered this apology:
"I was in a state that had me frustrated. I am not racist and never will be. Sorry."This entire sequence of events reminds me of my gut reaction to my husband's suggestion that we attend a hockey game for date night last year. I had serious misgivings. A stadium full of white folks, cheering for players in one of the whitest sports in the world, lots of alcohol, emotions running high and black me in the midst of it? I was fearful. That's right fearful. Given the violent nature of some of the tweets aimed at Ward, that trepidation was not unfounded.
Even though I really enjoyed the game, I didn't feel comfortable among the crowd and couldn't really shake the nervous feeling I had. The nervous feeling that I was somehow in a space where my brown body didn't "belong" and that my presence was not welcome. That nervous feeling that violence, particularly anti-black violence, is usually bubbling under the surface of spaces claimed by whiteness.
Wayne Simmonds, who had a white hockey fan throw a banana peel at him said:
"When you're a black man playing in a predominantly white man's sport, you've got to come to expect things like that," Simmonds said after that preseason game.Simmonds assertion reveals the clear presence of an atmosphere of white supremacy and white privilege among white hockey fans. The notion that hockey is a "white man's sport" and somehow the exclusive domain of white men, fuels the not so undercurrent of anger, bigotry and violence directed toward black players (an potentially black fans) who dare participate in the sport. Even further, Simmonds reveals that it's more than just a few "bad apples" tainting the sport with their racism. There is a clear culture among the fans and perhaps in the sport, that makes players like Simmonds and potential fans like me, feel that they are not welcome and should expect to be treated accordingly.