I would be lying if I said I ever watch hockey, but this weekend something spectacular occurred.
Matt Dumba, a Minnesota Wild defenseman of Filipino descent, became the first player in the NHL to take a knee during the national anthem. But he didn’t just take a knee, he delivered a soul-stirring speech while wearing a Hockey Diversity Alliance hoodie with “Black Lives Matter” printed on its sleeves.
“During this pandemic, something unexpected, but long overdue occurred,” he said before taking a knee. “The world woke up to the existence of systematic racism and how deeply rooted it is within our society.
“For those unaffected by systemic racism, or unaware, I’m sure that some of you believe this topic has garnered too much attention during the last couple of months. But let me assure you, it has not. Racism is everywhere—and we need to fight against it.”
In June, the Hockey Diversity Alliance was formed by San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, former NHL player Akim Aliu, and five other current and former players in order “to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey,” according to its website. The Alliance operates independently of the league.
But Dumba wasn’t done there. On Sunday, USA Today reports that prior to the Wild’s first game in the NHL restart, the 26-year-old raised his fist during both the US and Canadian anthems.
After the game, Dumba explained his decision.
“I know why I knelt and it wasn’t a sign of disrespect by any means,” Dumba told reporters. “It was to shed light on the people who’ve lived through injustice and oppression, especially in my home state of Minnesota.”
He also expressed regret at his decision to only kneel for the US anthem on Saturday. Dumba, who is Canadian, opted to stand for the Canadian anthem.
“There needs to be a lot of light that has to be shed on what is happening in Canada and the oppression First Nations have felt for hundreds of years,” he said. “I have First Nations and Aboriginal families that have lived it and I was disappointed looking back on it.”
Much to respect to Dumba for serving as a catalyst for change. I’m very curious to see if other players in the NHL to will join him moving forward.
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