Black Ice

These players want to kick some ice against racism, and we support them.

“Black Ice” is a documentary set in Canada and focusing on black hockey players, who have suffered through discrimination. It talks about how these dedicated players saw the sport through the good times and bad, and how they deserve more credit than they were given. Unfortunately, there is racism in this game, and the movie wants to remind us about that.

The interviewees of the film include P.K. Subban, Sarah Nurse, Anthony Duclair, Blake Bolden, Darnell Nurse, Matt Dumba, Akim Aliu, Saroya Tinker, Mark Connors, and the first black NHL player Willie O’Ree. Some of them are players, others are coaches or professors or scouts, and they all share their aspects on the sport, as well as their mistreatments.

Among the players to be attacked with racial slurs, Aliu went public that his former coach Bill Peters dropped the “N” word at him, Tinker has been called that word by her teammates, Duclair has been called that by his opposing team’s parents, and Subban felt he had to keep his mouth shut in order to move forward. It’s nearly enough to make them quit. This is disgusting, and hearing them express their horrors is heartbreaking. It’s also rated R, because of those slurs.

You also hear some elements from the late Herb Carnegie (1919-2012), who was of Jamaican descent, and he would have been a hockey legend, if not for the racism. After his career was over, he found success in the investment industry. His contributions to the sport was sadly overlooked by people.

I’m no hockey fan, so I wasn’t always interested in certain parts of the doc, but “Black Ice” did wake me up when it expresses the hatred against the racism and how the players have been trying to make a difference on the ice. Director Hubert Davis and writer Darril Fosty both make that clear to us, and have the right voices to speak their hearts out. And interestingly, Fosty made a short film back in 2008, also called “Black Ice,” but focusing more on how the decedents of the runaway slaves helped formed the sport in Canada.

That short film was about the past, while this feature doc focuses on how history can repeat itself, and how the players become affected by it. We also get a segment about how even black players have suffered from the racial comments through social media. It’s unfortunate that any generation can deal with this tragic subject. I can’t speak for any of these players, but I can show my respect for them, because they are people, too. Human beings to be exact.

In spite of the racism, the players can be optimistic enough to train a new generation of players to see the sport for what it is and what it can be. It wants to welcome them to the arena, and not scare them away. This sport is for everyone who wishes to play.

“Black Ice” is a wake-up call for even those who aren’t into hockey, and plus, it’s about a whole lot more than that.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Categories: Documentary, Sport

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