By Irwin Jerome
President Trump initially invited the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors – a predominately Black American team, that is supportive of the current ‘Take-a-Knee’ protest that is erupting in American Sports – to come to the White House in honor of their recent NBA Championship victory. But when their super star guard, Stephen Curry, made some disparaging remarks about the invitation, Trump revoked the invite and instead invited the twice reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburg Penguins, an all white team, to come to the White House in their stead. That’ when the shit began to hit the fan!
The Pittsburg Penguin’s captain, Sidney Crosby, a super star in his own right, considered by many to be Canada’s best hockey player, hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia that currently is the subject of a scathing U.N. Human Rights Council report investigating Canada’s historical and current legacy of anti-black racism, specifically in Nova Scotia and in Canada in general.
But it all began back in June when Stephen Curry, the inspirational team leader of the Warriors publically stated that he “probably ‘wouldn’t go” to the White House. Trump immediately took Curry’s indecisiveness as an insult. Finally, the last straw – or ‘icing on the cake, if you will – happened a week ago when Curry more firmly stated, “I don’t want to go”, and he didn’t think the team should go either (S.F. Gate, Sept. 22nd, 2017 “Will Warrior Boycott White House? Stephen Curry says, “I don’t want to go”) Curry added, “It’s not just the act of not going. There are things you have to do on the back end to push the message into motion. You can talk about all the different personalities that have said things and done things, from Colin Kaepernick (i.e. being blackballed from playing football by the NFL’s owners) to what happened with Michael Bennett (i.e. Seattle Seahawk player victimized by police brutality in Las Vegas), to all sorts of examples of what has gone on in our country that has led to change. We’re all trying to do what we can, using our platforms, or opportunities to shed light on it.” Curry further elaborated upon his reasons for not wanting to visit the White House by saying on behalf of his team, “We basically don’t stand for what our President has said, and all the things he hasn’t said at the right time. By not going, hopefully, it will inspire some change for what we tolerate in this country and what we stand for, what is accepted and what we turn a blind eyes towards.”
Following Curry’s pronouncements, President Trump almost immediately revoked his invite to the Warriors, tweeting on Sept 23rd, “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn.” With that, Trump turned around, almost the next day, and instead extended the same invitation to come to the White House to the twice reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburg Penguins.
But what the Penguin’s team captain, Sidney Crosby, said on their behalf in accepting Trump’s invite caused the shit to really hit the fan, BIG TIME! Crosby didn’t hesitate to say, “It’s a great honor for us to be invited to the White House” (Irish Times, Monday, Set 25th 2017 “Trump granted some respite as Pittsburg Penguins accept White House Invitation”) Yet Crosby and the Penguins seemed to talk out of both sides of their mouth, in an attempt to sidestep the controversy in American sports and its cultural wars, by further stating such mealy-mouthed statements as, “The Pittsburg Penguins respect the institution of the Office of the President, and the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House…We have accepted an invitation in previous years and accept again this year…Any argument or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways…However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.” (Metro News, Sept 24th, 2017, “Penguins accept invite to White House while Trump blasts NBA, NFL players”)
But when Crosby said to the Associated Press, “I support it. It’s a great honour to be invited there”, National columnist Vicky Mocama responded, “It’s a fairly standard response. But it’s notably different from the response that Lebron James (i.e. star player for the Cleveland Cavaliers) gave to Trump’s tweet complaining about Curry’s indecisiveness. James tweet was pretty amazing when he said about Crosby’s response, “U BUM@Stephen Curry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite! Going to White House was a great honour until you showed up!” Mocama writes, “James was right. It was once an honour when Michelle Obama made sure you got fresh fruit, which was dope!….Slightly more important, you’d meet someone who read multiple pages of a national security briefing and didn’t tag his global enemies on social media. Generally speaking, you’d meet a president who didn’t treat the office with the respect the animals give to the humans during the Running of the Bulls. So it’s odd for Crosby to describe it as an honour. At best, it is an invitation they have opened. Crosby could have said that it was an honour to take the Cup home to Halifax on his birthday last month….Or Crosby could have instead given President Trump the same answer that Mariah Carey once gave when asked about Jennifer Lopez, when Carey answered, “I don’t know her”.
Mocama goes on to write, “I personally hoped he (Crosby) had said to Trump, “I can’t go to the White House until Black Lives Matter. But then again Sidney Crosby grew up in a place with racial tensions…His Halifax neighbourhood, Cole Harbor, has a history of race violence. The divide between Black Nova Scotians and White Nova Scotians remains wide. Indeed, just over two dozen Black players are in the NHL, and most are Canadians” (Mississauga.com, Sept 27th, 2017, “Sidney Crosby reinforced the notion that hockey is a league of white people:Mocama)
Mocama’s suggestion to Crosby that he instead take the Stanley Cup back to his hometown throws even more shit against the fan. Because the United Nations Human Rights Council currently is discussing a report by its UN Expert Working Group of Exploited Peoples of African descent that is focusing on Canada’s legacy of structural anti-black racism, going back to the 16th century, and the historical impact it has had on people born and raised in places like Sidney Crosby’s Halifax and one of Crosby’s neighboring communities of Africville. The UN Council recommends that PM Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government formerly apologize for Canada’s slavery and make certain reparations for its historical injustices to its Canadians of African descent that still continue to this day. Such reparations call for Canada to preserve its history of enslavement, going back to the 1780’s when black people first came to Canada as British Loyalists during the War of 1776 & 1812, and later escaped from the United States on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The suggested reparation is that Canada erect monuments and statues in their honour.
The UN’s report further charges that Black racism and racial stereotypes are systematically entrenched in Nova Scotia’s institutions, policies and practices that replicate the historical conditions and effects of spatial segregation, economic disadvantage and social exclusion in Nova Scotia and Canadian sports like hockey.
“It was indeed Sidney Crosby’s own Black Canadian neighbours in the nearby community of Africville”, writes Mocama in her article, “who became part of the Coloured Hockey League, founded in the Maritimes, with teams from Africville. It was they who innovated a style of fast, hard-hitting hockey that is the precursor to the hockey we see now. Were it not for racism, there would be more Black Canadian hockey players today.” Mocama goes on in her criticism of Crosby and the Penguins acceptance of Trump’s invite, chiding them, “As an ambassador for not just Canada, but specifically Nova Scotia and Canadian hockey it wasn’t just bland, it was white.”
The former Halifax poet laureate El Jones makes the further observation that “Sidney Crosby’s support of the Penguin’s visit to the White House is An Act of Moral Cowardice! Sidney is a super star. He’s not some rookie that doesn’t have a voice in the locker room. If he didn’t want to go, as captain and the biggest star in the league, he could have made a serious point about not going. He has a lot of power here!”
The UN Human Council Report further goes on to charge that because of Nova Scotia’s Land Clarification Act of 1963, that’s still on the books, Canadians of African descent don’t even have title to the lands settled by their earliest ancestral grandparents down to the present day, nor can they build on or improve the lands passed down to them nor pass them on to their own descendents. The report goes on to say that environmental racism against them also exists in the form of health hazards like contaminated landfills, waste dumps and pollutants that are disproportionately situated near black communities. Canada’s and Nova Scotia’s structural racism also manifesting in various forms of poverty, health problems, low educational attainment, highest rate of unemployment and prejudicial treatment; as well as over-representation in the criminal justice system where they’re over-represented when it comes to police use of lethal force and endemic use of racial profiling in ‘street checks’.
The upshot of the UN’s report makes Sidney Crosby and his Pittsburg Penguins acceptance of Trump’s invitation, in the midst of his BDS Movement against America’s sports player protests against similar forms of structural racism and injustice against all people of color in America, an especially hurtful and hateful back-handed slap.
Hold On For The Next Heavy Load of Shit To Hit The Fan!
Jerome Irwin is a freelance writer and author of “The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey” (www.turtle-island-odyssey.com), a three volume account of his travels as a spiritual sojourner, during the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s, among Native American & First Nation peoples in North America. It encompasses the Indigenous Spiritual Renaissance & Liberation Movements that emerged throughout North America during the civil rights era. During this period of sojourn, Irwin also underwent a Lakota hanbleceya vision quest, under the tutelage of Joe Thunder Hawk, and received the name Twin Rainbow that symbolizes a healing bridge between the cultures of the West & East. and their many ensuing conflicts. In addition to being a long-time activist and political organizer among his community of Lower Capilano, Twin Rainbow-Irwin has authored over the years a number of environmental, political, cultural, spiritual articles with a special focus on Native Americans, First Nations, Australian aboriginals, Israel, Gaza, Palestine and Syria. Irwin also is the publisher of The Wild Gentle Press. email@example.com