The captain of the Chicago Blackhawks has taken to Instagram to share his thoughts on the ongoing riots and protests that are going on across the United States.
Violent protests have broken out in major American cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta following the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis. This comes after a recent video surfaced showing a black man being tracked down and killed in his neighbourhood while out for a jog.
George Floyd was pronounced dead on May 25th after MPD officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for approximately nine minutes during an arrest. Video shows Floyd saying “I can’t breathe” and witnesses begging police to stop kneeling on his neck. Floyd’s death has been ruled a homicide and the officer in question, Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder.
Ever since the violent riots and protests have broken out across the country protesting Floyd’s death, many professional sports team and athletes have issued statements about standing up to racism and enforcing “Black Lives Matter”. While it’s certainly not a competition by any means, it’s going to be hard for any NHL player to come close to topping the statement issued by 32-year-old Jonathan Toews on Monday.
While many Americans are against the rioting and looting that is taking place, Toews dove deeper into the issue and issued a thought-provoking message about compassion and what he wishes for from white people moving forward.
The message from Toews was attached to a video repost that showed two black men arguing about the protests and how it’s going to affect their younger generation. Here’s the full statement posted by Toews:
“A lot of people may claim these riots and acts of destruction are a terrible response. I’ll be the first to admit that as a white male that was also my first reaction.
But who am I to tell someone that their pain is not real? Especially when it is at a boiling point and impossible to hold in anymore. It’s obviously coming from a place of truth. This reaction isn’t coming out of thin air.
I’m not condoning or approving the looting, but are we really going to sit here and say that peaceful protesting is the only answer? There has been plenty of time for that, and if it was the answer we would’ve given it our full attention long ago.
Listen to these two men debate. They are lost, they are in pain. They strived for a better future but as they get older they realize their efforts may be futile. They don’t know the answer of how to solve this problem for the next generation of black women and men. This breaks my heart.
I can’t pretend for a second that I know what it feels like to walk in a black man’s shoes. However, seeing the video of George Floyd’s death and the violent reaction across the country moved me to tears. It has pushed me to think, how much pain are black people and other minorities really feeling? What have Native American people dealt with in both Canada and US? What is it really like to grow up in their world? Where am I ignorant about the privileges that I may have that others don’t?
Compassion to me is at least trying to FEEL and UNDERSTAND what someone else is going through. For just a moment maybe I can try to see the world through their eyes. Covid has been rough but it has given us the opportunity to be much less preoccupied with our busy lives. We can no longer distract ourselves from the truth of what is going on.
My message isn’t for black people and what they should do going forward. My message is to white people to open our eyes and our hearts. That’s the only choice we have, otherwise this will continue.
Let’s choose to fight hate and fear with love and awareness. Ask not what can you do for me, but what can I do for you?
Be the one to make the first move. In the end, love conquers all.
Toews is never afraid to speak his mind when real-life issues arise off the ice, and this is just the latest example. With multiple Stanley Cups and Gold Medals to his name, whenever he speaks up, people listen. He’s one of the most prominent voices in Canadian hockey, so it’s great to see him come out with such a heartfelt and thought-felt statement.
Many athletes have issued statements on social media, but how many are actually from the heart? How many are not just copied and pasted from somewhere or forced out because they feel like they need to say something? It’s a breath of fresh air to see Toews speak so genuinely and put this thoughts into a moving and inspiring message.