TAMPA — Lightning wing J.T. Brown said he knew there would be backlash after being the first NHL player to perform a silent protest during the national anthem.
But Brown, 27, said Sunday that the racist remarks and death threats he received on social media after his action prove why the issues being protested need to be talked about.
Brown, one of about 30 black players in the NHL, raised a closed right fist during the anthem before Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Panthers. He said he did so to show support for those trying to bring awareness to police brutality and racial inequality.
"I love my country, but that doesn't mean I cannot acknowledge that it is not perfect," Brown said in a lengthy Twitter post. "In my life, I have been through more than my fair share of racism both on and off the ice. There comes a time when you cannot remain silent, hoping and wishing for a change. It takes much more."
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."-Martin Luther King Jr. pic.twitter.com/Ql2vEFwl5E
Brown thanked fans, friends, family and strangers for "overwhelming" support of his protest. He said he respects law enforcement, and he reiterated that the protest isn't about the military, saying he talked to active members before making a decision.
"I know it may not sit well with everyone," Brown said. "But to truly make change in this world, we must be able to be pushed outside of our comfort zone. We can't just stick to the status quo. I want young minorities to see that what they may be going through is not being ignored by the hockey community."
Brown couldn't say how often he plans to perform his protest, only that the situation will be reassessed.
"I'd like to say that maybe halfway through the year, or maybe next game, we're having these different conversations and things change," he said.