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Black Hockey Player

I am the Black Hockey Player
A brother who stand out on white ice like a fly in a pail of milk,
Compose my surface smooth as silk,
Cool like the ice I glide
Keep my anger inside, struggle to maintain my pride
When the stands spit slurs
That echo like gunshots, or slapshots off the boards with the hate in their words
I'm like "Gimme the puck!" I don't give a fuck
I know off the ice they pull you over for driving while Black
Sit your ass in the penalty box for that, doing overtime
Contemplating sudden death, yelling "Don't shoot!" while they take aim
To take away my last breath, tangled up in their net
Easily identified, even behind the white wire of a goalie mask
So I play the game mentally and physically braced for impact, see
I am the Black Hockey Player

I am the Black Hockey Player
I played through the cheap shots and chipped teeth, stick slash and broke knee
I'm a throwback to guys like Carnegie and Willie O'Ree
Marson, McKegney, or like Fuhr with the Fury
Even on blades blind you with the speed of an Anson Carter or Mike Greer
With the resilience built over 400 years, you could club me like Brashear
But still I perservere, cuz
I am the Black Hockey Player

I am the Black Hockey Player
Don't player hate me, I'm a pioneer
I'm like Henson at the Pole, out in the rink in the blistering cold
Forty below, freezing off my ears, stand alone, the sole brown face
In places where they never seen, only heard rumours about my race
A curiosity, in small town arenas, from the Valley, south to Plattsburgh and Massina
Afro puffing out the sides of my helmet
Body check, getting extra attention from the ref
Never picked for the top teams no matter how good I get
I am as rare as a Black president, as brothers in the Winter Olympics
I am absent from the Hall of Fame, or the All Star game
Even Black history experts don't know my name
All the same, I talk softly but carry a big stick
Got visions of drinking Baby Duck, from the Stanley Cup
With an all-Black starting line-up, style like the Globetrotters with a puck,
while the P.A. sytem play some funk
Like Kool and the Gang to celebrate my rising star
Have rednecks turning the channel to watch NASCAR
As their last sports bastion, now that the Williams sisters and Tiger
Take over they country club games as champions
And so will I, you know why? Cuz
I am the Black Hockey Player

I am the Black Hockey Player
I am playing in a league where the idea of equality is bush league
Where it's like the era of Jackie Robinson, for me, the Black Hockey Player
They're saying I don't have a prayer
Like the way the way the they declared a Negro can't survive
In the cold up there
Only serve as porters in their trains up there
As domestics in their big homes up there
But now we deep in the city
Like the Capital, where winter hits with no pity
Or in Montreal where I twice saw the whole place mash up in a riot
Just cuz their team won it all, people all drunk and wild
And from when I was a child, I had heroes like Dr. J, but also Cournoyer
I loved my trading card of Willie Mays, but also my Jean-Claude Tremblay
I got chills down my spine when I heard the call and response
Of the crowd and organ play:
Dooh-de-dooh DOOT-DOOH-DOOH
Wanted to hear the crowd cheer for me, too
But when I played as a youth all they did was call me Nigger and boo
And urge their sons to beat me black and blue
When all I wanted was to wear my team's colours, the bleu, blanc et rouge
I am the Black Hockey Player

I am the Black Hockey Player
My pops love a game of cricket, talking fastbowler and wickets
Taught me how to play the real football, and
Took me back home to feel at home in Iere under palms
Still I could thrive in ice storms, and snow squalls
As comfortable cradling black rubber as a ball
Pirhouette lovely like Pele on a breakaway
Stickhandle like a master dribbler: Michael J or Marques Haynes
Amazed the sceptics who never expected I could make the grade
Bounced from team to team in the minors to try and ply my trade
Tried out for the Rangers, but they treated me like a stranger
Not promoted, stagnated, my career was in danger
So I was traded, went from the frying pan to the fire
Found myself riding the bench for the Flyers
Released and picked up on waivers by the Canucks
Then I found out the coach was a closet Ku Klux
Pushed me to do him like Spree on Carlissimo
Blackballed, blacklisted, my future looked abyssimal
I think it's criminal, but I have defined a new mission
To tell the world my story, communicate my vision
To the next generation, inspire them to keep going, like Jesse Owens
Scorned, but reborn in a million youth marching to carry on
So that one day, they can say with less rage and pain than I when I say
I am the Black Hockey Player

copyright A. Bansfield, 2002