Inclusivity and acceptance are two very challenging concepts that people face in the world today. A lot of times we see this take place in sports when we talk about sexuality, gender, and race. One brand that’s gained momentum in the wake of the 2021 NWHL season is the Black Girl Hockey Club.
Black Girl Hockey Club is a non-profit organization which promotes an environment inclusivity in women’s sports can coexist. It was created to spotlight black women hockey players, however, nobody is excluded from supporting the Club. In their latest campaign called: “Get Uncomfortable,” they have called on their followers to speak up against racism.
“The Get Uncomfortable Campaign is developing a comprehensive set of recommendations on how all entities involved in hockey, at all levels, can meaningfully contribute to the movement against discrimination and oppression of BIPOC communities in society.“Black Girl Hockey Club Campaign
The organization’s plan to “get uncomfortable” revolves around awareness accountability. Teaching others about how to recognize and speak up against prejudice and bigotry. A method that is central to the goal of eliminating the problem.
Hate Has No Home in this Club
The Black Girl Hockey Club has had much influence over the NWHL and its plan to address the issue of racism. The NWHL had joined in the effort to acknowledge the presence of racism and prejudice during their 2021 season. The league took the step by adding “END RACISM” patches on all player jerseys.
“The world today is fractured, but in the NWHLPA we will continue to educate our athletes, leverage our platforms, and drive meaningful action to make hockey a more diverse and inclusive space. We want our stance to be clear, so we are proud to wear End Racism patches.”Anya Packer, NWHLPA Director
“The National Women’s Hockey League supports every player, coach, and staff member in any peaceful action they may decide to take in the fight against racism…We wanted a message to be appearing every second of every game this season. After a series of discussions, the Players’ Association suggested a clear message on every uniform – End Racism.“NWHL Commissioner Tyler Tumminia
The patches were a “tentative” start towards racial justice, as Angelica Rodriguez of SB Nation stated. However, the coronavirus shortened the 2021 season, which creates an issue for the league’s momentum. If you don’t have eyes on the league to promote your movement, then how do you spread your message? You look to the players to help raise awareness.
Finding the Right Voice
The BGHC works closely with players and personnel within the NWHL and PWHPA to help grow their campaign. As a result, one player has unofficially assumed the role of the “face” of the BHGC. Saroya Tinker, Metropolitan Riveters defenseman, has served as a recent ambassador for the BGHC and women athletes of color. The 2020 draft standout has developed her skills to be the best player and an inspiration to young athletes in the hockey community.
In a recent interview, Black Girl Hockey Club founder Renee Hess, spoke with Saroya Tinker to discuss race and hockey…
[when asked about systemic racism] “To my teammates and coaches, the first step that I gave them is to understand the difference between overt and covert racism. A lot of the racism that occurs at the rink, specifically, is covert. Once they understand the difference between the two, they’ll become more cognizant of what they’re saying to black people – and just be aware of those areas…“Saroya Tinker
Tinker stated that spreading positivity and showing that the effort to educate others is essential. And it’s true. Little strides go a long way when facing this issue head-on. As a spokesperson for the BGHC, Tinker had recently endorsed the Black Girl Hockey Club Scholarship Fund.
The scholarship aims to help women athletes of color gain access to an education, at any level. An education shouldn’t be a financial competition for anyone, ever. Tinker has helped the cause by starting the GoFundMe page which has had success. Since that tweet on Feb. 17, her goal of $30,000 was surpassed by almost $1,000. I’m not here to shame anyone into donating, but hey if you’re feeling generous, by all means, donate!
Educate, Diversify, Repeat
Tinker has certainly taken the initiative to raise awareness on racism and breaking the color barrier in the world of ice hockey. Even though her success has been recognized, she really can’t do it alone. The Black Girl Hockey Club‘s mission to bring fans together to eliminate racism doesn’t end with one campaign. Or fundraiser.
There are so many ways to take a stand against this prejudice that goes beyond just giving money. Although, it costs $0 to be kind and accepting of all races – just saying. Get involved with your sports communities. Listen to player stories, share experiences. Choosing to be silent is futile. Recognize hate and stand for what is right.
So, what are you waiting for? Take the pledge now!