This Father’s Day, we reached out to a number of our sports landscape’s prominent African-American dads to talk about the ongoing quest for racial equality. Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Frantz Jean is a black French Canadian who works in hockey and lives in Florida. Each of those makes the Lightning’s goalie coach stand out.
Jean is the son of a white mother and black father. He is the father to a biracial son, whose name and photo he preferred to leave out of this story. Race is not always a direct topic of conversation in his family, but it is not ignored.
“The big conversation I’ve always had with my son, it was always about inclusion,” Jean said. “The world is made of different people from different races and you have to include everybody. It’s good to have friends from all sorts of races and all sorts of backgrounds and be as inclusive as you can. Try to learn from every culture, every race, be very open minded.
“And we’ve always been really big on always defending the people that can’t defend themselves. I was always taught that when I was throughout my teens and my early 20s through the people I’ve met along the way, and I always try to to share that with my son. Whenever you feel you can help someone step in and help, any way you can.
“He’s a smart kid and very aware kid. He’s 14 now. He hasn’t had any questions towards the present context but more of an affirmation of what he believes, inclusiveness and and being fair and being equal to everyone. It’s more of an affirmation about that, then asking question of why and how come it’s like this or like that.”
Jean has also had conversations about race with players he has coached, usually as a sounding board more than a source of advice.
“I’ve never felt like I was like a go-to person for for counsel on those subjects — being Canadian — but it has happened but more so in a general conversation. I don’t know if my opinion was taken. But it’s like anybody else, you’re gonna have those conversations. It was more when the kneeling movement was starting. Conversations would arise about it between some players and myself.”