Joel Ward, an African American hockey player, was recently at the center of a very disturbing storm of raciest tweets surrounding his play. In the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Ward scored the goal in over time to eliminate the previous champion Boston Bruins. What ensued on twitter was disrespectful and down right disgraceful. Thousands of tweets were sent out using raciest remarks and hurtful language.
Here is link to small number of tweets that were collected from the days following the incident. http://deadspin.com/5905356/heres-how-racists-on-twitter-reacted-to-joel-wards-series-winning-goal-against-boston. For more insight on the background of the story USA today wrote a good article summing it all up. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2012/04/joel-wards-game-winner-for-capitals-unleashes-racist-tweets/1#.UxbBAxardNw
Obviously the first problem is the blatant racism that was posted to an open forum. These people went on twitter and said the things they did and were okay doing so. Its scary to think we live in a word where people can say whatever they want and don’t care enough to think how their words hurt people. Unless your tweets are protected anyone can go and read them. If you read some of the tweets they use the hastage #Bruins in them which makes the problem much worse because now anyone can search that read all of the raciest remarks these people posted. Imagine if you had a son or daughter who was a hockey fan and used twitter. Would you really want them reading all of these messages and beginning to use the language these people displayed? It’s the same concept as cloaked white supremacists websites. As Jessie Daniels talks about in her 2008 article entitle “Race, Civil Rights, and Hate Speech in the Digital Era”, She talks about these websites that white supremacist setup to get their message across. Some are blatant hate websites but some are more discrete such as martinlutherking.org. At first glance this URL seems like a viable civil rights site that would provide information on the civil rights movement. After further investigation you would find that it is laced with anti-black and anti-Semitic jargon. Hundreds of innocent people stumble upon this website each day trying to find information on Martin Luther King. Young kids who go on this website would have no idea that this is a white supremacist funded website and I’m sure they have came across information on this site that was not what they were looking for. Its the same idea of a child searching #Bruins on twitter and coming up with pages of racist tweets. Could you imagine what would happen if your child saw these and started to use that language at school? Disastrous. People need to think before they write things on the Internet that will be there forever. Not to mention the amount of people on twitter that can see what you have said. Take a breather, collect your thoughts, and be sensible when posting.
Joel Ward is 1 of 28 current African American NHL players, most of which are from Canada. This isn’t the first time the league has had to deal with racism. In 2011, Wayne Simmons, a black player for the Philadelphia Flyers was taking a penalty shot when a fan from the crowd threw a banana peel onto the ice before he started. The NHL hasn’t really had an issue with blatant racism but ever since the social media booms new problems have arose.
The underlying problem is the fact that people think that black people can’t play hockey. Is there some sort of rule that I am unaware of that says black people aren’t aloud in the in the NHL? In no other sport is there such an imbalance of race. Just because someone is black doesn’t mean they can’t play hockey. Nor does it mean they cant be good when they do play. This issue goes hand in hand with an article by written by Bonilla- Silva entitled, “Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America” She talks about these stages of colorblindness and one of then, cultural racism, explains perfectly why people don’t think blacks should play hockey. Cultural racism is defined as justifying racial stereotypes by blaming their culture. So for example people think that because most black people are poor they cant afford to play hockey. Yes it is true that hockey is very expensive and that limits the amount of people that can play it, but how do you then explain the raising number inner city kids enrolled in hockey programs? We are beginning to raise the interest of these inner city black kids to this historically “white” sport.
Obviously these situations are going to arise where people will make these racism remarks and post them on the internet but we need to make this kind of thing happen a lot less. We have to teach our kids that this kind of discrimination is no longer okay and it needs to end. You cant go around saying whatever you want because you have no idea who can see it and how that is going to make theme feel. The language of the tweets mentioned earlier is disgraceful and there needs to be a serious effort to police that kind of thing on social media site. They way twitter handled it is exactly what needed to be done. Every single account that was found to have made a racist tweet was deactivated and erased. In my opinion that was the least they could have done. I would have liked to see the police get involved but at least there were consequences for their actions.
Cherner, Reid. “Joel Ward’s Game-winner for Capitals Unleashes Racist Tweets.”USA Today. Gannett, 26 Apr. 2012. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.
Petchesky, Barry. “Here’s How Racists On Twitter Reacted to Joel Ward’s Series-Winning Goal Against Boston.” Deadspin. N.p., 26 Apr. 2012. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.