There was a time when Montrealers could overlook superficial and linguistic differences to rally around a groundbreaking sporting prodigy. Despite being Black, Anglophone and a foreigner, Jackie Robinson was, by all accounts, welcomed in Canada’s then-largest city in 1946. Robinson played a single season with the Brooklyn Dodgers‘ farm team in La Métropole. He led . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Habs and the Have-Nots: Why Subban Should Leave Canada
There was a time when Montrealers could overlook superficial and linguistic differences to rally around a groundbreaking sporting prodigy. Despite being Black, Anglophone and a foreigner, Jackie Robinson was, by all accounts, welcomed in Canada’s then-largest city in 1946. Robinson played a single season with the Brooklyn Dodgers‘ farm team in La Métropole. He led The Montreal Royals to the Little World Series. More importantly, Robinson proved that there could be a willing white audience for a racially integrated baseball team. It was a stepping stone towards the MLB, where Robinson would break the colour line. The first African-American MLB player faced angry, intolerant crowds and colleagues alike.
But not in Canada.
In fact, it was quite the opposite. “I experienced no racism here. […] The French-Canadian people welcomed us with open arms,” said Robinson.
It’s been documented that the Montreal fans would pay close attention to any ear-to-the-ground or press reports of racism or mistreatment Robinson and the Royals received when playing on the road. Fans of the Royals would voice their displeasure when that city’s team visited Delorimier Stadium. [source: CBC]
That was then. This is now.
There’s another Black, Anglophone sports prodigy in Montreal these days. P.K. Subban has electrified audiences, opened up a new stream of hockey fans, and brought the Montreal Canadians to contention in the playoffs.
But the Habs aren’t bending over backwards to sign a Norris-trophy alum. In a familiar refrain, the Subbanator has the talent on which a winning team can be built for years to come, but, as Quebec sport writer Jeremy Filosa put it in 2013, there’s a physical trait that can’t be overlooked:
“Voilà que le Tricolore se retrouve aujourd’hui avec, dans ses rangs, peut-être le meilleur défenseur de la planète et il est noir. Pas un peu noir, il est très noir…”
“Now the Habs find themselves with, in their ranks, perhaps the best defenceman in the planet and he is black. Not just a little bit black, he is very dark-skinned black…”
And PK’s pigmentation has drawn the ire of many, though most, like Don Cherry, are apt at masking their racial anxiety behind Tea Party-like euphemisms and innuendo.
PK Subban has been chided and disrespected throughout his professional career: from the blackface-donning fans, to
bigot dismissive coaches, and even teammates have called him out in public. The graceful player has suffered in silence, thus co-opting the NHL’s steadfast refusal to take any meaningful action on the league’s interminable racial inquietude.
Broadcaster and Hockey Night In Canada co-host Kevin Weekes took to twitter to express his frustration on Subban’s dragging contract negotiations.
The mere fact that a player/person of his calibre has to be in this contract with the @CanadiensMTL when he’s proven so much is despicable.
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) July 30, 2014
Weekes, who was a professional hockey player and shares Subban’s Caribbean extraction, believes there is trickery behind the scenes.
@BostonBruins28 Point being.In spite of the accomplishments,they keep moving the goal line.Not to mention icetime,PP,benchings,etc.
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) July 30, 2014
FACING THE FACTS
Montreal is not the place where an ebony player like Subban can thrive. In a town where blackface is still considered acceptable – even on the public broadcaster’s airwaves, a dark-skinned prodigy in the “white man’s game” just can’t get the respect nor the remuneration he’s earned.
Subban has the pedigree, the poise, and the personality to be a transcending figure à la Michael Jordan. He speaks proper English. He comes from a picture-perfect traditional family. He’s never been in trouble with the law. A marketing dream… in the U.S.A. If the NHL played its cards right, Subban’s forthcoming success could cement hockey’s popularity among its least-represented groups, thus springboard towards a new generation of diverse players and fans.
FLYING THE COOP
The social experiment of a hockey prodigy with dark chocolate skin in Canada has lasted long enough. Montreal is no longer the bastion on racial progress it once was. PK Subban should thank the Habs for the stepping stone years and move on to more culturally mature and inclusive locales.
Los Angeles was the first city to welcome a black NFL player in 1946. California’s franchises have taken pride in seeking out talent from non-traditional sources, shoring up support from both the Asians and Latino communities. New York hosted the first black NBA player in the 50s and the city continues to set the trend for the rest of the nation.
Both U.S. coasts would serve as ideal launch pads for the second phase of Subban’s career. They can promise something Montreal can‘t — unencumbered race-transcending support.
The adventures of a Franco Ontarian Viz Min Woman in Ottawa.
. . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Habs and the Have-Nots: Why Subban Should Leave Canada
There is a steady stream of Obama supporters who drop into the office to ask for a lawn sign or a bumper sticker.
If I had a dollar for every Obama supporter who walks in asking for a lawn sign, I'd be richer than Mitt Romney.
In 2008, field offices had lawn signs . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Obama Campaign Day 7: Do You Want Obama Swag?
There is no pho in Detroit suburban area. They don’t even know what pho is. I am trying not to cry.
Heard during the phone-bank I coordinated today: “Did you see the President on The View today”. “No, I missed it”. “It was taped yesterday in NYC and both him and Michelle were . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Obama Campaign Day 6 : fits and starts
This college kid comes in every other day to help out in the office. Data-entry, mostly. He is bright, talkative and surprisingly insightful. Let’s call him Thomas.
Thomas is an independent, but he has chosen the side of Saint Obama this election. Mitt Romney’s multiple gaffes and flip-flops have soured him for good.
Thomas broke . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Obama Campaign Day 5
Promptly at quarter to six, an army of volunteers storms the Obama campaign office. The energy and buzz created by the storm of supporters could light up the Empire State Building.
Most of the volunteers are over 50 years old; some are still working for a living, all of them are committed to the President. . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Obama Campaign Day 4
The Diva is data-entering with two retired ladies who believe in The Cause.
I think CBC would have loved for me to tape this conversation. The Lady named Pearl*, retired for “a couple of years”, comes in to help out. She has a mid-western accent an a sarcastic sense of humour that had me . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Obama Campaign Day 3
Why don't they ever cover this on the news?
The area outside of Detroit is bustling with Arabs from Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, etc. With a burgeoning Yemeni immigrant population.
They brought back a section town that was in decline, opened new businesses, integrated in the fabric of America, speak English and vote. . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Obama Campaign Day 2.5 / Arab Americans : integrated into the USA
Entering the Obama Campaign office, I introduce myself to the hard-working people.
I mentioned that I heard Obama has a slight lead in this, Romney's home state of Michigan.
Ms. Mallory says "Yeah. We're just hopin' he keeps on talkin'."
It seems Mitt Romney's foot-in-mouth disease is blighting his own campaign worse . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Obama Campaign Day 2
I got to meet the campaign field organizers for the regions of Michigan covered near my area.
Both young and energetic, they are committed to the task.
One of them, Michael*, is mobility-challenged. But, in the true spirit of America, he soldiers on and performs at the same level as an ‘able-bodied’ . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Obama Campaign Day 1
I’m brainstorming ideas about ways to keep my friends, followers, facebook acquaintances and fellow bloggers abreast of my anecdotes and goings-on during my stint in the swing state of Michigan.
I might just blog it, then share the link to the blog post on Twitter and Fbk. Could it be that simple?
Day One . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Diva Does Detroit w/ Obama’s Democrats
Well, not really. I’m going past Detroit, but the alliteration only works with D.
Michigan is a northern state which borders Ontario. Windsor, Ont, is situated just south of Detroit. Yes, south. Look it up.
The state was basically forest and fur trading [another alliteration!] until Henry Ford founded a manufacturing plant to . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Diva is Diving into Detroit’s Obama Camp