Mathieu Joseph stands out on any hockey team. He’s a black man in a sport dominated by white people.
“As a kid, playing sports helped me develop strength, which allowed me to brush off racist comments as much as possible,” the 23-year-old Lightning forward wrote in a lengthy tweet Sunday.
Joseph, the son of a Haitian man and a white Canadian woman, posted a two-page note, which he referred to as “some thoughts.” Joseph, who has spent most of this season in the AHL, is the first Lightning player to comment publicly on the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died last Monday in Minneapolis while handcuffed in police custody.
Joseph said his heart bleeds for Floyd and his family, and he called attention to Floyd’s death not being an isolated event.
He made a distinction between being non-racist and anti-racist, but adding that violent protests are not the way.
“Once this all boils over, what concrete actions will be taken?” Joseph asked.
J.T. Brown, who spent six-plus seasons with the Lightning and grew up outside of Minneapolis, has been active on Twitter. During his time in Tampa, Brown, who is black, was vocal about race matters and worked to bring awareness around issues of police brutality.
On Sunday, the 29-year-old shared images of his Minnesota community coming together, including a massive food donation made available for families in need.
On Friday, he commented on the impossibility of protesting in a manner that everyone views acceptable.
Also Sunday, NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, a black Canadian who spent time with the Lightning, took to Twitter.
The former goaltender stated that no one is superior or inferior to anyone else. A commenter compared his statement to the “all lives matter” slogan and told him to “be better.” Weekes, 45, responded, saying no one can tell him how to feel.
Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene
Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
He highlighted the discrimination he faced in hockey, saying others can tell him how to react “the day you have to explain and prove to officers that you didn’t steal your car.”
Mathieu Joseph’s full comments
“Feeling and reacting are two very different things. How you react is often more in your control than how you feel. So I’ve been giving a lot of thought these past couple of days about how to react and part of me is still a bit torn and confused about everything. What I know for sure is that how I react will have an impact on not just myself, but the people around me.
“Growing up playing hockey, it is obvious that I was part of a visible minority. As a kid, playing sports helped me develop strength which allowed me to brush off racist comments as much as possible, even though they still happened. Watching the events unfold across America makes me extremely sad. I wish I could say what happened to (George Floyd) was an isolated event, but I know it’s not. The problem is that everyone has known that for a long time, and yet very little was done about it. And now people have had enough.
“That said, once this all boils over, what concrete actions will actually be taken? It is not enough to be non-racist, events unfolding today have proven that. But violent protests are not the answer or a good way to be anti-racist. Two wrongs will never make a right, and it saddens me to see people using these protests as a way to act violently and tear down cities. Cities which they helped build. Cities which they call home. Innocent lives are being put in danger and that doesn’t make sense to me. We need to focus on the solution. On making a change in the way we educate children. We need to go about being anti-racist in a way that is significant. Burning police cars and looting stores or businesses run by people in your community is not a productive or significant way to be anti-racist.
“(George Floyd’s) death was unacceptable, my heart bleeds for him and his family, and I assume he would want us to fight for a better world. Let’s lead with love and demand change all together as human race. The only way out is through.
Kevin Weekes’ full comments
“You barked up the wrong tree.
“Let me just start by highlighting both your ignorance and arrogance.
“The day you have bananas thrown at you on the ice. The day your family and loved ones have to hear people scream racial epithets while watching you play. The day you have to worry about some media intentionally call you a wrong team, when they know your legal name, when they know your legal name. The day have to answer to ‘why did you just not play basketball!?’ The day you have to worry about you and your family being legally harassed. (The) day you have to feel fearful of a police officer in either Canada or the U.S. The day you have to explain and prove to officers that you didn’t steal your car. The day you and your parents are belittled by authorities at the airport. The day your Mom gets belittled at the grocery store. The day crooked legal systems exploit you financially. The day you finance hockey camps at Malvern and Ice Sports Scarborough that helped produce 12 NHL Players, and give countless others access to the great sport of hockey. The day you are a fellow NHL ambassador. The day you support numerous initiatives in Barbados, Canada, and the United States. The day someone (you) feels arrogant enough and privileged enough to tell you how to feel in response to an attack within your racial community — then and only then, can you tell me how to ‘be better.’ ”
“Until then, commit to being a part of the solution, as opposed to perpetuation the problem.”