A perk of running this community is learning about and reading new books as they are available. Lately, I've been following the success of Anthony Walsh, an author and advocate for inclusion in hockey.
I've been watching Anthony take on racism by working with children from schools and doing speaking arrangements, and telling a story based on his own experiences.
It's been unbelievable.
I was able to chat with Anthony and ask a few questions about his book. Stay tuned, because we are also giving one away!
Congratulations Anthony on the success of your book "Hockey is for Everybody: Anthony's Goal". Tell us what inspired you to write this book?
I was living in Washington, DC at the time, going to law school, and working at a think tank named The Century Foundation. The pandemic brought everything to a halt, and I found myself, like a lot of people who were stuck inside, online and scrolling social media. When I saw Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck I was beyond stunned. The subsequent fallout concluded with a part of Minneapolis being set ablaze for 3 days.
I could not shake the sick feeling in my stomach. I grew up 15 minutes away from where that horrific murder took place. It was in those next few days that I decided “never again.” I felt a duty to do something. I transferred to Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota so that I could begin to help heal the community from a grassroots level instead of from D.C.
When I was back in Minnesota, I began coaching youth hockey. It was brought to my attention by a parent of color that their child was experiencing racist micro-aggressions and worse. This broke my heart, but a light bulb went off in my head. What happened in Minneapolis did not happen overnight. It was created by years of fear and loathing that started with the absence from an adolescent age of strong, cross-cultural relationships. I knew that if we could reduce fear in the community, and build strong relationships cross-culturally from an early age, that we would never see a Derek Chauvin-George Floyd moment again.
In one sitting I sat down and wrote what is now “Hockey Is for Everybody,” a children’s book that parents, educators, and corporations use for a fun “icebreaker” when it comes to the tough conversations about discrimination. I was able to take the experiences that I had had, both fantastic and rotten, over the years that I had played hockey competitively, and create a guide that helps the reader learn the importance of allyship, reconciliation, redemption, and proactivity when it comes to self worth, bullying, and discrimination.
Anthony Goes to Camp, and Anthony Battles Mental Health make up the trilogy, and the three books, in combination with the guided lessons, create the DEI anti-bullying workshop that I have successfully presented to KIndergarteners, to Seniors in High School; and from the Minnesota Department of Education, to Apex Systems, a global corporation.
The book is geared towards a younger audience, why was that important to you?
In the movie “South Pacific”-1958 there is a song called, “You've Got to Be Carefully Taught”
“You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught”
My mother would also sing this song. When I was told by the parent of color that their child was experiencing racist micro-aggressions and worse on the ice, I was brought back to my mother singing “you have to be carefully taught,” and that is when it really all clicked. Just take a look at the lyrics. “You have to be taught to hate and fear, from year to year… You’ve got to be taught to be afraid… You've got to be taught before it's too late… Before you are six or seven or eight” Children are not born bullies. They are taught the behavior. So if we can teach the kids before they’re “six, or seven, or eight” to choose love over hate, then that will set us down the path of healing.
I see that you have been doing a lot of work in schools, reading with students and talking about bullying and diversity, equity and inclusion. How have students and their teachers reacted?
The students and teachers have loved it! They are incredibly engaged, and always ask lots of questions! See a video of Fox 9 News taking a peek behind the curtain of one of my anti-bullying workshops.
Anthony and Matt are two of the main characters in "Hockey is for Everybody." There is a picture in the back of the book of you - Anthony, and your friend
Matt Nelson. Was Matt someone you played with and what role did he play in your life?
Yes, Matt, the other protagonist is a real person— former teammate, and current friend. Matt as well as other teammates have played the role of ally at different times in my life, and I have been incredibly appreciative.
Many people want to end racism in hockey and promote diversity, equity and inclusion, but don't know how to start. It will be mostly hockey parents reading this article. What is one thing parents can do to help?
One thing hockey parents can do to help is to be proactive. Don’t wait until there is an incident to have these tough conversations with your children. That’s why something like "Hockey is for Everybody” is such a great tool, because it allows a parent to have that conversation in a safe, proactive, often relatable manner. Thank you!
Thank YOU Anthony!
If you would like to enter a giveaway for this book, leave a comment on our Facebook Page!
Giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook and will end December 16th, 2022.