So, I wasn't surprised when this happened. You've probably seen those tweets, because they're everywhere: the Washington Capitals' Joel Ward scored the series-winning goal against the Boston Bruins' Tim Thomas, and in so doing set the Twitterverse afire. Oh, and Joel Ward is black, so by "set afire", I mean "pissed off a lot of racists". (Actually, there is one thing about the responses on Twitter that surprise me. Of the forty tweets listed on that Chirpstory page, only three have been deleted, a full two days after they were first posted. Really? You still haven't figured out that posting a racial slur to your public Twitter account is a bad idea?*)
|photo by Kevin Lamarque, Reuters|
But one of the most interesting things to come out of this are the telling comments from Ward's mom, for whom this isn't isolated and who reminds us that even Toronto, where Ward grew up, is a racist place. In a Toronto Star article, she recalls "players and their families drawing attention to the young black player on the ice, telling him to play basketball, and even a referee calling him a monkey."
Equally telling, though, are all of the other comments from people involved in the game: Ward's teammate Jason Chimera describes it as a problem with "a few idiots", the Capitals' owner calls out "these folks", and even Ward reduces it to just "a few people". And here we are, sliding back into characterizing it as an isolated incident and a problem that belongs to only a very small number of people, rather than recognizing that it's one of many symptoms of a much larger, systemic problem. Plus ça change, and all that.
[* In the Toronto Star article that I've linked above, they quote one of those many Twitter users, who 'apologizes' to "anyone [he] may have offended". This is, of course, not an actual apology because he takes no responsibility for causing offense. He also adds that he's "not racist", and that it was said in "the heat of the moment". Yes, because every single one of us is known to drop the n-bomb when we get too excited, am I right? Only, no.]