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September 22, 2020 61 min

Retired NHL Player #42 and Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA) Co-Founder, Joel Ward II discusses life as a minority in a predominately white league (Ep. #1.6)

Episode 1.6: Show Notes. 

With the rise of the black athlete over the past 50 years, we often see professional athletes of all races presented together as a great example of the progress and leaps we’ve made in diversity. On this week’s episode, we speak with NHL Veteran #42 and Hockey Diversity Alliance co-founder, Joel Ward II, and have a discussion about how everything might not be as racially idyllic as it seems. Joel discusses what it’s like to be a minority in the NHL, one of the few majority white man’s sports leagues in North America. Joel talks us through specific incidences of racism and prejudice he’s experienced from both the league, and sports fans around the country. It’s these oversights that led Joel to join with eight other hockey players and form the Hockey Diversity Alliance, an organization that has committed itself to increasing visibility of minority players, addressing concerns of racism within the NHL organization, and encouraging POC to become involved in hockey at all levels. Joel also gives general advice as to the steps allies can take in listening and understanding black people, as well as tangible actions that can foster real change within both Canada and the United States. Overlooked history is also addressed as to the black roots from which the game of hockey sprung from, as well as the importance of major black athletes in the fight for acceptance and equality. Tune in to hear more about Joel’s unique and inspiring journey, and how you can make a difference “both on and off the ice.”

Key Points From This Episode: 

• Joel starts by talking about instances of racism in the NHL

• The Hockey Diversity Alliance works to increase diversity in professional hockey

• HDA is trying to get more POC on hockey team staffs and POC kids playing hockey

• Unequal opportunities for Black hockey players like Joel compared to white majority

• Willie O’Ree breaking down barriers as first black player in NHL

• The hidden hockey history of the Black Hockey League the first league in North America

• Joel tells a harrowing story about being pulled over by a cop and fearing for his life

• Experiences of racism that white hockey teammates may not understand

• Addressing the importance of white people educating themselves about racism

• A story about subtle racism in Nashville, and the way allies should listen and believe others

• Words and statements of meaning only go so far, action is what is truly important

• The difference between racism in Canada and the USA is much less than what people think

• The special connection Joel has with Jackie Robinson, and the number 42

• Joel discusses his future in hockey possibly as a coach or trainer

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Joel Ward II

National Hockey League (NHL)

Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA) -

Akim Aliu

Wayne Gretzky

University of Prince Edward Island

Fredericton, NB

Willie O’Ree - 1st Black Hockey Player in the NHL

Hockey Hall of Fame

Jackie Robinson #42

Sports Hall of Fame in New Brunswick

Black Ice Book

Africville, Nova Scotia

Black Hockey League

Tommy Smith

John Carlos

1968 Olympics 

Statement from the Hockey Diversity Alliance on NHL’s response to racial injusti

Mark as Played

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