Boston-based M.C. Akrobatik is a self-professed recent convert to the Bruins, having watched their 2011 Stanley Cup run while recovering from open heart surgery (“I never once was conscious of the fact that I was watching a bunch of white guys play a sport, although thanks to Vicodin they may as well all have been purple”). Commissioned by Bruins W Brad Marchand to record a Wu Tang-themed B’s tribute EP, Akrobatik admits that upon seeing Washington’s Jason Ward eliminate Boston on Wednesday night, his initial tweet read, “Sorry, Timmy (Thomas). I guess that one was for Obama.” As such, he’s not surprised by the avalanche of hate-tweets aimed in Ward’s direction, opining for Future Boston Alliance, “As soon as I realized that it was in fact Ward (who’s family, like mine, migrated from Barbados to North America) who scored the decisive OT goal, a lot of people would be thinking (and saying) ‘nigger.’”
At once supporting the “cloak of anonymity” argument and the NHL desperately needing an anti-racism campaign has been my experience playing NHL 12 on my Xbox 360. I love hockey, it’s a beautiful sport. The grace and coordination necessary to pull off the feats that NHL players do is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Since my ankles would probably snap if I even laced up a pair of ice skates, I enjoy emulating these guys’ talents in the video game. Unfortunately, almost without fail I encounter bigots who immediately start me calling “nigger” once my dreadlock-wearing defenseman takes the ice. I can never enjoy more than one or two games with a group without being reminded that “niggers” are not welcome in hockey and that it’s a white man’s sport.
As crazy as that seems in 2012, it is very real, and has been my experience while trying to enjoy a game I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for. Now, these guys are people that I probably see on the MBTA during my commute to the studio, and maybe even fans of mine. It’s hard for me to quantify with words how disheartening that is for me.
My love affair with hockey is coming to an end. It’s really too bad that people still have not gotten past their ignorance and insecurity. But I guess it’s a good thing that there is still a realm that bleeds out the racism that still exists deep within the hearts of so many people, particularly Americans. All I can do is walk away confused.