The 2018-19 NHL season is now in the books, but during this past season, as previously reported, Detroit Red Wings star Givani Smith, one of the few Black players in the National Hockey League, had to deal with racist fans of the sport who can’t handle reality.
You see, Smith has been dealing with so much racism that he needed a police escort to games.
“It’s heartbreaking to be honest. He shouldn’t have to endure it,” Red Wings general manager Mike McKenzie told the Waterloo Region Record.
“[Smith] did a good job of turning the other way. I think the unfortunate part — and it pains me to say this — is that he’s probably used to it by now. He’s probably heard things before, which is brutal.”
The 20-year-old was suspended from an Ontario Hockey League playoff game last month “for giving the middle finger to the opposing bench, but before and after that incident he was subjected to racial slurs and threats, according to his team,” ESPN reported.
Giving the middle finger “sparked a series of racially charged comments on social media,” the Waterloo Region Record wrote.
“One troglodyte reportedly sent a photo to Smith’s personal Facebook account with the caption reading ‘Hockey N***er and another sent a death threat.”
“People say things; you can’t control it, you can only control your response,” Smith previously said to a room full of mostly Black kids and their parents at a dinner put on through the Griffins Youth Foundation.
Asked by a parent, Smith said he has experienced racial slurs, and offered some advice.
“I’ve experienced it and acknowledge it and it’s something I like to talk about more because it does happen,” Smith said. “Especially with young African-American kids playing hockey. When I was a kid, I told my parents about it, things were done about it …
“Don’t hide from it. If it happens, tell somebody because it’s not OK especially in this day in 2019. It’s just words. It doesn’t define who you are.”