The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala - June 19, 2020

Juneteenth through a women's sports lens — Interview with Dr. Courtney Szto — must-click WoHo links

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Happy Juneteenth! Celebrating the best of a horrific situation

It is June 19, 2020, aka Juneteenth, aka the 155th anniversary of the day when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas (one of the westernmost points in the Confederate South) finally received news of their liberation.

Here’s the story behind today’s Google Doodle. The animation includes a narration performed by LeVar Burton, the host of one of my favorite shows as a child, Reading Rainbow!

Burton narratives this portion of Lift Ev’ry Voice, aka the Black National Anthem.

Lift ev'ry voice and sing
'Til earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list'ning skies
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on 'til victory is won

Juneteenth is seen as a celebration, a celebration of overcoming systemic and deep-rooted racism. Despite the odds and in the absence of justice, Black families survived. In Texas in particular, they survived and endured slavery for an additional two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered and over two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

The history of Juneteenth is critical for all to understand, but here is why it matters in women’s sports: even when there are policies and people in place to protect, serve, and honor the humanity of all, policies don’t change culture. People in leadership and in power perpetuate culture, for better or worse.

Katie Strang has released a series of stories highlighting abuse and concerns of the handling of allegations of sexual misconduct in USA Hockey (see below in links). The domestic governing body is the latest institution accused of systemic disregard for the safety and well-being of its athletes. All this despite policies, reporting protocols, and laws put in place to protect institutions.

This is a problem.

So yes, today I will celebrate Black culture, Black food, and the Black community. But I also mourn for the loss of innocence and dignity too many people face at the hands of organizations. We as a society have a nasty habit of ostracizing those who “dare” speak up and speak out.

This is nothing new. This too is oppression and a gross injustice.

“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” - Assata Shakur

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This Week in Women’s Hockey

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! 


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Sydney with the secondary assist! Follow Sports Disrupted!


Five at The IX: Dr. Courtney Szto, Queens University

If you read the Hockey Newsletter, you should know all about Dr. Szto’s paper. If this is your first time, welcome! Dr. Courtney Szto is an associate professor in kinesiology at Queens University and the co-author of a new Policy Paper on Anti-Racism in Hockey. The IX communicated with Dr. Szto before the public (and free) Q&A on the policy paper being held virtually on June 29th. Register HERE!

Your policy paper came from a roundtable on racism in hockey you coordinated in 2019. Going to that event in 2019 was my first exposure to racism in Canada. What would you like people to know about racism in Canada?

It's a racism that operates under the guise of Canadian politeness. We have reported higher rates of hate crimes against Black and Indigenous folks per capita than the United States. We hide behind our identity as a multicultural nation to the detriment of all those we pretend to include.

Racism is experienced across the world, but the methods of systemic racism can look different. What do you believe to be the biggest barriers to eliminating racism in Canada?

Many Canadians genuinely do not believe that racism is a viable discussion topic. The 1988 Multiculturalism Act supposedly fixed all of our problems but even though it can be leaned upon in a court of law, it is in no way preventative.

The policy paper, although focused on hockey, asks Canada to see racism as systemic. Why do you believe it's important for hockey to own its place in anti-racism?

As the national winter pastime, it's impossible to disentangle national issues from the sport. From a practical standpoint, Canada has a small population so hockey needs as many people as possible to have a sustainable future. Moreover, if a national pastime is supposed to represent its citizens, then our national hockey teams fail to represent a significant portion of the Canadian populace.

There is a virtual Q&A coming up on June 29. Is there a target audience, or an audience you think would benefit from that event?

There isn't really a target audience. It's for anyone who wants to be part of the solution but doesn't quite know what that entails. It's a way for us to address the questions that have been coming in one-by-one in a more efficient way.

I know you've heard from the hockey community about your research. Have organizations outside of the hockey community reacted to the policy paper?

Some larger sport governing bodies that are not associated with hockey have reached out to see how things can be adapted. But on the whole, it's mostly smaller minor hockey associations that have really embraced the Policy Paper's intention.

BONUS: With the policy paper now out, what are your next steps?

Good question! We're not really sure. Our hope is to be like a charity in the sense that we want to put ourselves out of "business." We're only doing this because no one else has stepped up but the main goal is to pass the momentum to organizations like Hockey Canada and USA Hockey so they can turn our recommendations into legitimate actions.

When we held the Roundtable in 2019 there was a lot of discussion about it becoming a yearly thing--if it's an annual discussion about how little has changed, I want no part of that discussion. I would be very happy if we could get to a stage where we simply maintain anti-racist practices so that we can all just enjoy the game.

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