FREEDOM OF SPEECH COMES WITH A PRICE

Wow, Don Cherry really stirred it up with his “You People” comment and then to add insult to injury, Jess Allen almost had a fit on The Social, when she was speaking about it.  It was like watching a live skit on hypocrisy. If you never knew what hypocrisy was and you needed a re-enactment, you should definitely watch her talk about it on the Social. 

Okay, let’s get back to Don, keep in mind, I am not a hockey fan, but I know who he is. My brother played hockey when he was young, and I am very familiar with being in an ice rink (I will save my almost figure skating career for another time).

Let’s get to the facts, I also like the verbatim quotes that they have going around.

“You people… love our way of life, love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.” (Don Cherry)

How many words does it take you to get fired?  Forty-six! – throw in a racist epitaph and voila! See ya!  Of course, I have never seen people in the GTA get so wired up about this, but I understand. I have heard how much Don Cherry has done for hockey and for veterans and I get that he is passionate – aren’t we all?  I mean, we all are passionate about something or the other.

He lost me at “You People” – now he said- he should have said “People” or “Everybody”.  Nope, you said what you said, and you meant what you meant.  Now there are people deciphering what he meant and getting all into his psyche to determine his intentions. Sigh.

Then I hear people saying, everything is offensive, you can’t say anything.  No that’s not true, you can say whatever you like, however there are consequences.  (Go ask Don, if you don’t believe me)

See, being a person of colour, I grew up knowing what you can and cannot say.  I actually have to look up the derogatory names for certain races, because I really don’t know them. I only know them when other people say them. When you say, “you people”, you are describing anyone that doesn’t look like you- that’s not apart of your group. Plain and simple.

Do I think Don is racist?  I don’t know, I don’t know him personally so I cannot make that assumption. I just know that when you say things like that, it comes off racist, and then when you are not a member of a visible minority- worst. 

The sad reality is that It has become so socially acceptable that people don’t even realize what racism is.  the definition of racist is a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races or believes that a particular race is superior to another.

There, that’s the dictionary definition.  Yes, back in the 70s it was a free for all, I even see memes about Archie Bunker and agree, that was then, when George Jefferson and Archie Bunker bantered racist comments back and forth. Some people are referring that to “the good old days”. Really? First off, it is a Sit-com, therefore they have creative liberties that you and I don’t have.  Second of all it’s a comedy. 

George Jefferson & Archie Bunker

Nowadays, we say something “off-side” and then say – just joking or the one I hate the most lol, or if you really want to put emphasis on it lmfao.

Most truths are spoke in jest- the old saying that was used to describe that when people are joking, they sometimes say things that are true and important.

Many of us stayed silent, when racial slurs or epitaphs were said, and I have heard them all.  As I said earlier, I really don’t think people know what being racist is. Please don’t tell me you have black friends, or your best friend is black. Please, I am begging you.

Anyhow, back to Don, not only did he say “you people” he also implied immigrants, Now that’s two for two.  I am a visible minority AND an immigrant, I was born in England and my family immigrated to England from Trinidad and then to here.  I come from a family of immigrants.

“you talking to me?”

Although I do buy poppies every year, my great grandfather actually fought in WWI and my dad was in the Royal Air Force in England. So yes, I know the sacrifice of soldiers and veterans.

Great Grandfather -George Henry
My Great Grandfather’s Discharge certificate

You know what, I like Don.  He owned it. He could have kept his job and apologized, but he was like, Nope, I stand by what I said. I like that.

 What I don’t like is the inconsistency, so on the Social- They brought up when Justin Trudeau’s three times a charm – Black Face debacle.  It was, oh well that was so long ago, and he wasn’t prime-minister then and he apologized, and he is not a journalist. Um yeah, he’s just prime minister, so nothing like Don Cherry- (rolling eyes now)

“It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize that it was something racist to do and I am deeply sorry,” he said.

“I am an ally for these communities,” he further stated.

“I have worked all my life to try and create opportunities for people, to fight against racism and intolerance, and I can just stand here and say I made a mistake when I was younger, and I wish I hadn’t.”

Apparently when he first apologized, he used “I” 130 times, not the people who he wronged.

Research shows there are a number of key components that contribute to a meaningful apology that truly benefits those wronged.  The findings state that an apology is not a one-time event, but a series of actions that demonstrate humility and correct the wrong in question. It also must include efforts to reestablish respect and dignity to those harmed in order to address feelings of disrespect and humiliation (Jama, 2006).

What I am trying to demonstrate is, nowadays is it just okay to do something that is racist or has racial implications and then all you have to do is apologize and life goes on- poof, your are no longer racist?- It’s like a get out of being a racist card. – Okay.

I mean, if I say something offensively racist to someone, and they call me out on it. I just get to say sorry.  I particularly love the “I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intent” apologies.  (then What was your intent?)

Maybe you don’t know you’re racist. Maybe no-one told you, or it’s so ingrained into your existence, you are unaware. Maybe you are a closet racist and you say things only around people that are the same as you and They don’t call you out. I was in a spin class the other day and the instructor was a person of colour, and she was speaking about her son and hockey and she said well you know he is “black” I hardly heard her because she felt the need to whisper it. Oh boy.

Anyhow, l digress….

Don Cherry, it’s unfortunate that you had to get fired, for what everyone does. (I am so sorry)

The unfortunate thing about this entire event, is that it has to do with demographics. Yes, in the past, the demographics were quite different. However, this was a money move. Sportsnet is owned by Rogers Communications, Hockey Night in Canada has been losing money. Plain and simple.

In an interview with SiriusXM radio on Tuesday, Cherry said most of his supporters stay silent because of fear of the backlash.

“They’re afraid, I mean look what happened to me,” Cherry told host Jeff Sammut. “And they’re afraid and that’s the way it is. And I’m not afraid, never have been afraid, and I paid for it with my job.

“Canada hasn’t changed, it’s just that the people that follow me keep their mouths shut.”

Yes, it is true, people that follow you do want to keep their mouths shut, because the demographics have changed and majority rules.

See, here comes the hypocrisy, remember Jess Allen, the woman I was referring to earlier?  It gets better. So, Jess Allen was, I am not exaggerating, almost convulsing when they were speaking about Don Cherry’s comments. Her rebuttal described hockey players as “white boys” and “bullies” and basically telling parents of hockey players that they should spend money on trips instead of hockey. Except, she didn’t get fired. This is why this racism will never go away and it will keep being perpetuated. So, because she’s white, and she was talking about her own – it’s okay? (I am rubbing my head)

 Okay just in case, I don’t misquote her

She said, “a certain type of person in my mind, in my experience, who does” and “they all tended to be white boys who were, let’s say, not very nice.”

She also kept going. (where is the gong, speaking of the 70s) They were not generally thoughtful. They were often bullies. Their parents were able to afford to spend $5,000 year on minor hockey: $5,000 is a lot of money. You can do other things besides than spending time in an arena. They could go on a trip and learn about the world. See other things, eh. The world is a big place. Get outside of that bubble.”

Why didn’t they take a commercial break? (and fire her on it?)

Nope, she kept going: (gloves off now)

 “For me, Don Cherry is the walking and talking representative of that type.”

(where’s the penalty box?)

And then for the grand finale- she recognized that he had done some good things but is “still a bigot and a misogynist.”

Game over……

Oh, and when she was called out for her racist rant- she couldn’t contain herself

I never said every white boy, just the ones whose unsavoury behaviour, which didn’t feel very Canadian, I witnessed. Because of this, I am guilty of having conflicted feelings about hockey being so closely linked to our national identity

Is it just me?  So white boys with unsavoury behavior are NOT Canadian- Birth certificate revoked.

Let’s give her some credit, on Wednesday’s show she stated that those where her opinions based on personal experience and she respects hockey culture- (that’s not what you said on the show)

The group support her- and that is all.

When you make racist remarks while you claim not to be racist it appears paradoxical. There are many white people who consider themselves allies of people of colour and are unaware of their racial biases.

I read this article by Rebecca Hain’s, a professor of media, she states if you are a white person and someone calls you racist, what should you do?

She says you can be called out for racist remarks even though you may have black friends and relatives, donated to anti-racist causes and marched for civil rights. 

When people are called out for racism, they tend to respond to the accusation of racism by sharing a personal history. Stay in the moment-

What matters is:

1.What you said

2. How it was received by those around you (as reflecting a racist bias) and

3. How you respond to those who identified racism in your words or actions.

Even if you know you are not racist, remember it is possible to have unconscious racial biases.  Apologize and consider asking someone for help understanding what went wrong. Taking ownership and asking for help in identifying what you did wrong.

My opinion, Don Cherry owned it.  I actually commend him.  He said it and he stood by it, whatever he wanted to say, it didn’t come out the way he alleges he meant it. I actually find it refreshing that he did not make a wishy-washy apology. Jess Allen, sorry, you should also go. You don’t fight racism with racism. Oh, and it was just your opinion- on a televised show talking about a GROUP of people in a derogatory way- like um, Don Cherry?

We are in the age, that yes, we have freedom of speech, but there are always consequences for it when it offends or hurts people.

When I was a child and other children were mean and called me racist slurs- we were taught to say;

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me

Actually, my bones will heal, but the words are damaging mentally, and I remember them all, every single one of them.

Times are changing, thankfully, we still have a long way to go, baby steps!

References

Hanies, 2019, Dear fellow white people: here’s what to do when you’re called racist. The Washington Post; https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/dear-fellow-white-people-heres-what-to-do-when-youre-called-racist/2019/08/20/6e31941a-beda-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html

JAMA. 2006;296(11):1401-1404. doi:10.1001/jama.296.11.1401

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