For Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, the events of the past week, the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha Wisconsin and the sports world’s response, including the NHL postponing yesterday and today’s games, have hit close to home.
In a phenomenal article written by Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic earlier this month, Jaccob and his wife, Kylie, shared how the adoption of their black daughter, Emersyn, has opened their eyes of issues of systemic racism, police brutality and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
On a Zoom call with media Friday morning, Slavin shared his thoughts on the situation and the NHL’s response.
On his situation with his daughter and the NHL’s response to racial injustice: I obviously get a different viewpoint from it now. It’s different now that I’m living it and experiencing it. Before, I think I said in the article, that I wasn’t fully aware of everything that was going on around the world. I knew that racism existed, I just didn’t know how deeply rooted it was. It’s hard to see what’s happening in our country right now. It’s hard to live with the fact that Emersyn is going to grow up in this world.
Obviously we want to see change happen. There’s a long way to go, and I could go on for a while about this and share my heart on the matter. But change needs to happen, and so what the NHL did with postponing the games is a great sign of solidarity, and it was awesome to see that. But at the same time, there’s still a lot more that needs to be done than just postponing one game, right, postponing a couple games. There’s a lot of change that needs to happen and a lot of action that needs to happen outside of the game of hockey. But it is awesome to bring more awareness to it to continue that conversation.
On what he might have done or felt about playing this week: When you’re at the rink, and you’re focused on the task at hand, and then to see the events that played out, I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision for those guys to make to say ‘Hey, let’s postpone this game, but I think what they did is awesome and it showed great support for the black community that’s suffering right now, and so it’s awesome to see that support through the NHL.
On having conversations about social justice: It’s hard, obviously everyone’s back in their hometowns, I’m just outside St. Louis right now with my wife’s family, so to have those conversations with guys isn’t as easy as just being at the rink and having those conversations. But no, I’ve had some really good conversations with guys on the team about this stuff leading into the bubble and everything going on, over the course of this year, over the course of my daughter’s life obviously, I’ve been trying to educate myself on these matters. I’m still learning. I definitely do not know everything, but I’m just trying to learn and educate right now, it’s super important.
Listening to black people, to the people who are actually experiencing what’s going on right now is really big. So taking what you learned from those conversations, and you definitely want to have those hard conversations with the people on your team, the people that you’re closest to outside of hockey, whatever it is.
Those conversations aren’t easy, but to have them is extremely important to bring awareness to this, to hopefully start that change. I think the biggest thing right now is everyone just taking a look at their own heart in this matter and finding out what you believe about this situation. That’s going to be the biggest thing that changes the course of everything that’s going on right now is heart change. Because that’s the issue, it’s a problem of the heart right now and how we look at our peers. Those conversations need to continue.