News / Halifax

Halifax activist on Sidney Crosby supporting White House visit: 'An act of moral cowardice'

El Jones says the decision by Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins to visit Donald Trump at the White House has 'greatly disappointed' many African Nova Scotians.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby laughs while speaking to reporters during a press conference in Halifax on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

Darren Calabrese / The Canadian Press

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby laughs while speaking to reporters during a press conference in Halifax on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

Hockey star Sidney Crosby’s decision to meet with Donald Trump at the White House has “greatly disappointed” many African Nova Scotians.

That’s the message activist and former Halifax poet laureate El Jones had on Monday as she called on the Pittsburgh Penguins captain to reconsider his stance.

“Sidney is a superstar. He’s not some rookie that doesn’t have a voice in the locker room,” Jones said.

“If he didn’t want to go, as captain and as the biggest superstar in the league he could’ve made a serious point about not going. He has a lot of power here.”

Over the weekend, Trump called on the National Football League to dismiss players who chose to kneel during the national anthem. The symbolic gesture is a protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

Trump’s war of words sparked an increase in such protests this weekend in the NFL, spreading to other sports as athletes chose to stand in solidarity.

In defending their decision to meet with Trump, the Penguins said they respect the office of the president and “the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House.”

On Sunday night, Crosby himself said “I support it…It's a great honour for us to be invited there.”

“In recent sports this is one of the starkest moments where it’s a very clear which side are you on moment. Where #TakeAKnee was trending on Twitter, it was very clear that there was a choice to be made about whether people are going to side with Black athletes protesting injustice,” Jones said.

“It was beyond whether or not you agreed that anyone should be protesting police brutality…It really became about free speech and athletes. Should an athlete be fired because they say something the president or their owner or their fans don’t like?”

Jones said Crosby grew up in Cole Harbour and should be well aware of racial issues and the injustices faced by Black people in HRM and the province. She said his decision to not take a stand was disappointing.

“A lot of people who play hockey in this province who are Black and who admire Sidney Crosby are now facing the idea that Sidney Crosby has no interest in standing up for them or seeing them or thinking that they’re worth speaking for,” she said.

“He may agree with Trump. We don’t know his politics. Maybe he absolutely thinks Black athletes should be fired...He has the right to hold that opinion like any other athlete has the right to their opinion. If it’s not his belief, then he should make that clear so we know who he is. I think it’s not possible at this point in time to think that by staying silent, he’s not choosing sides.”

Jones said it’s not too late for Crosby to take a stand, and she hopes he does.

“It is an act of moral cowardice. I think that he can still fix this and maybe with pressure he will,” Jones said.

“I hope that he sees this and realizes how greatly disappointing this is to Canadians and particularly to Black Canadians. He has a chance to reconsider. I’m not saying he’s a terrible person, but he made a terrible choice.”

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