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Akim Aliu is right, it's time to move beyond 'Hockey is for Everyone'

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On Monday, Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares joined the growing chorus of players speaking out to address recent incidents of racism in hockey. On the latest episode of 'In the Mentions', Omar asks fans to speak up in support of Jordan Subban, Jalen Smereck and Boko Imama; and demand that hockey take steps to be more inclusive than slogans.

Video Transcript

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- Jalen Smereck, Boko Imama, and now Jordan Subban. Another unfortunate incident that just reminds us that hockey still has a long way to go.

The thing that stands out for me personally is that as the years have gone on, I think we're starting to see more and more people who aren't people of color who are speaking out about this. I think that is something that stands out the most. It stands out more. The fact that it's not only the people of color who have to be alone in these fights. Be alone in these battles. And that it's just more and more people talking about it.

Recently, we had John Tavares open up his media bringing light to this.

JOHN TAVARES: I think it's really important to acknowledge the recognition of steps that have been taken over the last little while to improve eliminating racism our game. But obviously, we have a lot of work to do with learning and discussion, and understanding, and how we can continue to apply that and make a difference. Just continue to make our game better and that much more inclusive.

- Bringing up the fact that Mark Fraser, who is now in the league's organization, facilitates a lot of these conversations that the players have. And having John Tavares, the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, talk about racism, how racism is an issue in the game that needs to be fixed, and everyone needs to do their part to do so matters. It's significant.

On the other hand, you have Akim Aliu, who is one of the founders of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, who had this tweet to say. Pretty much talking about how the league needs to get rid of this whole hockey is for everyone hashtag and change it to more of a when can hockey be for everyone? Or let's make hockey for everyone. And that's something that does go through my mind sometimes. Definitely just because these things keep happening.

But again the thing that's reassuring for me is that you have players like Wayne Simmonds, like Joel Ward, like Nazem Kadri, who are willing to put themselves out there, have a platform, and spread these messages. And again, players like John Tavares, who probably have never experienced things like this, who are taking their opportunity to talk about it as well.

And the thing is that you see it on social media. I'm seeing it from Leafs fans, I'm seeing it from not Leafs fans. And there's no such thing as enough being enough when it comes to this. So if you've been doing that, if you've been an ally-- if you've been speaking out-- and if you've been sharing your thoughts-- and standing up for these issues, then thank you and continue to do so.

And if you haven't, then it's not too late. It's not too late to try to do something good here. It's not too late to not spread hate and to help those who are around you. We all talk about making hockey a safe game. It's not only physically, it's not only mentally, it's emotionally as well. All of these things kind of come together. And if you can do your part, definitely do so. And maybe one day, we can finally say that hockey is for everyone.

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