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A mother’s view: Boys didn’t know racist slur was so hurtful to others

By: Jeanne Ann Kolojeski, for the News Tribune
I am the mother of one of two boys who admitted using a racial slur on the ice, as reported in the Jan. 27 News Tribune under the headline, “2 barred from youth hockey tournament after alleged slur.”

The article was very one-sided, and that side came from the mother of the African-American child involved. She falsely accused these two boys of a “hate crime.” This mother came yelling out to the foyer of the arena after she heard what happened. One witness told me she was “hooting and hollering and kicking up her feet.” She refused to let anyone talk; she just yelled and threatened.
The mother of the other boy barred from the tournament left a phone number so the police, media, this upset mother or the coach of the other team could call. The mother of the boy disciplined along with my son did this so she could apologize and explain, without making an excuse, why the boys said what they did. The upset mother apparently wasn’t interested in that, only in making a scene. She never called.
I very much regret that this incident happened. The boys have been punished, at home and with the hockey league. The Cloquet Hockey Association did the appropriate thing, and I stand by its decision and respect the punishment handed out.
But I want the boys’ story told also. If one side is going to the media to slur the names of these two boys, I feel the other side of the story, and the true reason the boys used the word they did, also should come out.
The problem is not that hockey isn’t diverse enough and that these two boys were sharing racist views. These two boys live in homes where the n-word is never used. The only place they have heard it is in the lyrics of rap music. The boys knew the word was wrong, just like four-letter words are wrong. But because the word is never used at home, even in explaining racism to them, they weren’t aware how sensitive its use is to the African-American culture.
As the story reported, the use of the word was overheard. It was never directly said to any player on the Duluth East team. My boy’s Centennial team, based in Circle Pines, Minn., was warming up and doing a workout before the game. Duluth East was in its locker room. One of the boys used the word and then the other boy repeated it. Nothing was ever said by the coach of the Duluth East team to anyone on our team. The only thing that was said was said to a ref, stating that this was overheard and to keep an eye on the game.  MORE


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