This is not typically something I would bother to write about. I am not a sports writer, nor a sports buff. But one of the hot topics in Canada right now is Don Cherry being forced to step down from his position on Coach’s Corner because of some xenophobic remarks about how he doesn’t see immigrants wearing poppies.
First off, he could have just generalized this. He absolutely didn’t have to go all, “you people come here…”. He could have just said “I am seeing less people wearing poppies”. That’s the issue, less people wearing poppies. Don’t bring immigration into this. We need to pay respect to ALL veterans, not just the white Canadians. Race has nothing to do with a lack of respect for veterans during Remembrance Day. He also could have just apologized. He could have just said, “I didn’t mean for it to come across as racist, I just want to see more people in our country support our veterans”, and his job would have been saved. But the fact that he REFUSED to stand down, shows intent to be racist/xenophobic. It’s almost 2020, we need to do better; and that includes apologizing when we put our foot in our mouth.
The lack of apology brings me to my next thought. I am seeing a lot of people compare this incident to Justin Trudeau’s “Black Face” Scandal. Now, I am not condoning Justin Trudeau’s actions. He did an awful thing. But this also happened 20 years ago, when people were far more ignorant to the problems behind black face. He has since owned up to his mistake and apologized for it. He has grown. We were absolutely outraged when this happen, don’t act like people weren’t. But there is a difference between a person who made a mistake 20 years ago, a person who will acknowledge their mistake, apologize for it, and strive to be better…and someone who is actively expressing racism in 2019 with no regrets.
I am also seeing a lot of people say things like, “what happened to freedom of speech/expression?”. Don Cherry is absolutely entitled to his opinion. But he works in media and was using his media platform to express these opinions. Which ties back to his employer. It’s one thing to express an opinion on your own private platform but when what you say reflects on your employer, and your opinions may be less than flattering, your employer is going to have a problem with that. As someone who works in media, I get that. If I used my employers platform to spread hate, they’d be pissed. You can say whatever you want when you’re a nobody.
Overall, I wouldn’t say that I am outraged one way or the other. I think that Don Cherry is an 85 year old man who said something ignorant. He could have apologized and we might have been able to move on. I personally think he should have been pulled off air years ago, I found him incredibly difficult to watch.
Let’s just do better, guys. Let’s think about how what we say and do sounds/looks to people of colour. Let’s just care about other people. And let’s wear a poppy to pay respect to veterans.
Update: since publishing this post, Don Cherry has admitted he wishes he had used different language in his statement, but he has stood by what he said and has still not issued an official apology.
I will share a few links to stories in case you don’t know what I’m talking about. I would also like to share a Facebook post from NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh.