Lightning wing J.T. Brown wants to make one thing clear.
"I have no ill will towards John Tortorella," he said.
That doesn't mean Brown, 26, agrees with everything the Team USA coach says. And Brown, 26, an African American, took to Twitter this week to let his voice be heard on Tortorella's statement that he'd bench any Team USA player who didn't stand for the national anthem, like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has famously done. Kaepernick has kneeled/sat during the anthem in protest of America's treatment of minorities.
"Wouldn't benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap's point of oppression?" Brown tweeted:
The tweet went viral.
Brown wanted to explain his perspective, which he did Thursday in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times.
"I'd like to make it clear that I have no ill will towards John Tortorella. I do not know him. I responded to a story on Twitter with my opinion and that was how I saw it. He sees the situation through his reality and I see it through mine, as a black athlete in the NHL. I know I'm not on the United States World Cup roster, but I have had a chance to represent my country on other occasions. My tweet was a hypothetical. What if I took a stance to promote awareness for one of the many injustices still occurring in our country and was punished despite there being no rule or law against it? My tweet was a response to that question.
"I could have been quiet and just kept my opinion to myself, but I don't want young minorities who love the game of hockey to think that what's going on in America today is going unnoticed by the hockey community. I love America and thank the military for protecting our freedoms, as well as law enforcement for protecting and serving our communities, but that doesn't mean I can't acknowledge that there is still racism today. I am glad my tweet provoked a discussion, because we need to start having a conversation about racism if we want to work towards a better America.
"While I don't plan on sitting during the national anthem, I will look for more opportunities to positively impact my community and bring awareness to racial issues."