Activism in the NHL – JT Brown’s Fist

It is no secret that hockey is a predominantly white sport in the USA, which makes black hockey players in the NHL rare and subject to deep scrutiny. One of these players is JT Brown, who was playing with the Anaheim Ducks when something happened that shook not just him, but the world.

The Trigger

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Back in 2017, a police officer was declared innocent from killing a black man, in his car, in front of his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter. The incident had gone around the world as the footage was released out to social media.

JT Brown said that watching the little girl trying to comfort her handcuffed mom was too much to bear.

Being Thoughtful

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If you thought this young man just stepped out and raised his fist, you are completely wrong. The hockey player did everything in his power to get everybody involved up to speed with what he was thinking of doing. He talked about it with his teammates, the owners and even the managers.

And before even going to his team’s directives and members, he talked about it with his family. Since his livelihood, reputation, and overall future would surely be impacted by this simple yet powerful act, he consulted with his wife.

He also talked about it with his dad, whom he felt had a relevant point of view, as he was a former NFL player and a Ramsey country probation officer. JT explains that his dad did feel some fear about the repercussions of such action, but got behind him 100%.

Knowing he wanted to protest was one thing, but he needed to find a good way to do so and that decision was reached after a particular conversation. Aware that taking a knee during the anthem could be taken as an offence for the military people, he spoke with a friend who’s a combat veteran of the US Air Force.

Raising a Fist During the Anthem

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Since kneeling was out of the question due to logistics and the likelihood of offending combat veterans, JT decided to just raise his fist during the anthem. A quiet, yet powerful remark that for him represented solidarity, strength, resistance and support. Yet as quiet as the gesture was, the backlash was loud and aggressive.

Although JT Brown has received death threats and has had even his baby daughter insulted over the net, he has no regrets about what he did. He finds that all this negative backlash proves that he was right in thinking he had to protest.We hope that activism, within the NHL and all hockey leagues, is encouraged to avoid prejudice.