This past Saturday, Juneteenth was celebrated and it officially became a federal holiday in the United States on June 18th, 2021. Despite Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday, it was already a day people of color acknowledged and celebrated for many years. What is Juneteenth exactly? Juneteenth or freedom day represents the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to ensure enslaved people were freed; this came two full years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
The Black Girl Hockey Club hosted a Juneteenth discussion panel moderated hosted by Erica Ayala and Shireen Ahmed to talk about how we can improve hockey culture and what steps need to be taken to get there.
The panel included NWHL Riveters’ player Rebecca Morse, Willie Documentary producer Bryant McBride and co-host of Rogers Hometown Hockey, Tara Slone. Before the discussion officially began, the interim Black Girl Hockey Club President, Dr. Tunisha Singleton, lead the opening remarks and briefly talked about the #GetUncomfortable Campaign. She also discussed the reason why Black Girl Hockey Club was started and what the organization stands for and highlighted the club’s recent achievement of awarding 14 young black girls $1,000 scholarships for the summer.
- Bryant McBride explained clearly the importance of becoming organized. “No more starting organizations without real inclusion. Let’s all talk to each other, let’s all work together, let’s get organized,” he stated.
- Tara Slone speaks on the roles media members have when talking about social justice issues especially within the sport of hockey. “I know for me, of course I am concerned about my livelihood, but I am willing to walk that tightrope at this point in my career, but again […] I am privileged and I recognize that wholeheartedly,” she said.
- Rebecca Morse discussed how crucial it is to hold yourself and others accountable for their actions and their words. She touched on her own experience and how she referred to a former teammate with the incorrect pronouns. Also, she stressed how impactful it can be to have conversations with others from different backgrounds and that she hopes to be a safe space for people to come to her and talk openly with on various topics.
- Dr. Tunisha Singleton ended the panel by stating that everything that was discussed as potential solutions cannot be a, “copy and paste”, solution. In order to create change, it has to start in smaller increments in terms of what you can control in your own respective role within the hockey community.
This event was thought-provoking, eye-opening and inspiring. Hockey culture needs to change and by having these necessary conversations, it shows there are many people out there who are working as hard as possible to ensure hockey is a sport for everyone.
While this discussion was only 60 minutes, the panelists have included a few reflection questions that viewers can answer and share on their social media. We encourage you to not only watch this discussion, but to also take a moment and exercise critical thinking skills by answering those questions.
*Feature Image: Black Girl Hockey Club logo via their website