Racist acts and hurtful words can come from every direction. The most common form is something called a “microaggression.”
Microaggression is a term for “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.”
Talha Javaid, a full-time economics student and weekend youth hockey coach, knows this as well as anyone.
On October 9th, his routine went from normal to controversial after he received racist text messages from a “concerned parent” who didn’t want his white son to be coached in hockey by a Pakistan-born Canadian Muslim.
Chase, the concerned parent, affirmed to Javaid that he had no intention of being racist and only wanted to express his concern for Javaid intruding on a “tradition”—that “tradition” clearly meaning “white culture.”
Javaid offered a thoughtful response, clearly more concerned for the model Chase was providing for his “smart and talented” son.
The text exchange is available here:
Not only did the father’s text begin with “I’m not trying to be racist, but…”, but he also went so far as to suggest that Javaid resign.
He also used the space to suggest what he thought was a suitable alternative for Javaid, stating that seeing Javaid’s position as the coach would be far more palatable if he were coaching “Cricket or something.”
Talha Javaid has never played Cricket in his life.
He is a dedicated, full-time economics student at the University of Windsor. He spends his weekends with his best friend, Sebastian Nystrom. The pair pay to rent out ice time, out-of-pocket, and provide free clinics and sessions for 5 to 8 year-old aspiring hockey players.
This wasn’t good enough for Chase to get over his prejudices and stereotypes, though.
After their heated text exchange, Javaid pushed back and posted screenshots of the messages on Twitter. Though the exchange was brief, it’s a telling example of the many racial exchanges minorities have to deal with, especially for someone like Javaid, who is one of the very few non-White individuals in the Windsor-Detroit hockey scene.
The tweet quickly went viral, and Javaid has been positively overwhelmed with support.
Javaid clearly is more interested in continuing to grow the hockey culture in the Windsor-Detroit area, but also to promote awareness of what it is to live as a minority.
He expressed that sharing these stories often reminds non-POC friends and onlookers the types of experiences they’re privileged not to deal with on a daily basis.
And how they can assist as allies.
He also hopes to continue to see more youth hockey players and coaches who are of color, to continue to diversify the sport.
The only “tradition” should be the continued growth and celebration of the sport and kids having fun.
Have you listened to the first season of George Takei’s podcast, ‘Oh Myyy Pod!‘?
In season one we explored the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
We’re hard at work on season two so be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss it when it goes live.
Here’s one of our favorite episodes from season one. Enjoy!