Stop Talking And Do It

The NFL and the NHL along with their various teams have released statements against racism. Both have programs, The Players Coalition and Hockey Is For Everyone respectively, that have promise to find resolutions to police brutality and inclusion into their respective worlds. And those promises sound great, but yet something is missing.

Many believe there hasn’t been a true effort to make those promises a reality. Or, it is a situation where money leaves the League to be passed off to another organization to make those promises come true. But with police brutality protests, a pandemic and racial equality all coming to a head at this moment, it is time for the Leagues and its players to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Now is the time for them to take the lead instead of passing it off or handling it in-house.

This especially true for the NHL. As mentioned yesterday, the NHL is looking for two hub cities. The suggestion was made to make Minneapolis as one as it is one of the two epicenters of conflict in the United States. Here’s an opportunity for the NHL and possibly the NFL–as the Minnesota Vikings have shown interest in repairing its City–to help Minneapolis heal.

This especially true for the NHL. As mentioned yesterday, the NHL is looking for two hub cities. The suggestion was made to make Minneapolis as one as it is one of the two epicenters of conflict in the United States. Here’s an opportunity for the NHL and possibly the NFL–as the Minnesota Vikings have shown interest in repairing its City–to help Minneapolis heal.

There are a few ways the NHL can start the healing process: hold town hall meetings or a charrette, immersion, and create a festival. Town hall meetings are going to be the easiest all the way around. However, I would suggest organizing and holding the town hall meeting and not just going to one. At this town hall meeting League and Team officials as well as players should be involved. These are some of the best negotiators in the United States so why not put those skills to use in resolving police brutality. Further, NHL and the NFL have great contacts with various police departments to bring both the police and the fan base together for discussion.

A charrette is taking the town meeting a step further. It is more work but the benefits will be both individual and communal. A charrette is an intense period of design or planning activity. Think of the movie, The Best of Enemies. In the charrette, players, League personnel, police officers and citizens especially People of Color would be broken up into small subgroups of 3-4 people. There should be someone from each subgroup to make a new subgroup. That new subgroup would tackle a problem to be presented to the larger group. The new subgroup would discuss and eat together for several days to weeks until a solution can be found. A charrette should have an atmosphere that’s innovative allowing a diverse group of people to use their aptitudes and interests to create a solution to police brutality through understanding.

A third option would be solely to create understanding. However, do not think this is a wasteful project as understanding goes a long way in ultimately helping people from different walks of life find mutuality. Or in the words of one of my University mothers, it helps people be truly well-rounded. The third option is immersion. When someone truly wants to learn a foreign language, teachers tell them to go be immersed in the language. Immersion means being dropped in the place surrounded by the language and culture. If the players want to start to understand what it means to be Black, then let them be immersed in the Black culture like they were learning a new language.

Players and team or League officials could be paired with a member of the same sex from the Black community from various socioeconomic backgrounds. While they wouldn’t live with them, they would follow them around like a person would in a shadowing project to learn a new job. That means they would catch the bus, shop, work, enjoy whatever entertainment their partner does for several days.

The final suggested option would be to have a festival like a Soul Food Festival. Yes, this sounds more like fun than work but it another form of immersion. Organizations like Essence, Black Enterprise, NAACP, Black Lives Matters, Urban League, Sun Broadcast Group and so forth could assist to make it happen. Besides family, food, music and art helps bring people together. The festival is opportunity for the parties within the hockey world to see how Blacks and other People of Color celebrate life. Film and books about race relations and police brutality could be discussed as well as including a town hall meeting.

The goal is to ask the hard questions, listen intently to each other, have patience and work until a solution is found that benefits all in the community. That’s the healing process. Then, and only then, will the promises of the Leagues look genuine.

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