The sobering reality of living Black in Montreal

Bob White new

The barbershop was crowded, as it always is, but especially because it’s summertime and it’s still Miller Time—as in Marc Miller, MP in the Southwest district of Montreal.

Everybody was talking and texting… when Just Chillin and Professor walked in.
Professor quickly raised his hand and said, “We can all sing together, but we can’t all talk together.”
Everybody said, “Amen!”
Professor continued, “If you read the July 4, 2016, Montreal Gazette,” about P.K. Subban, the superstar with the Montreal Canadiens who got traded to the Nashville Predators. Columnist Jack Todd wrote, “There are profound cultural differences between players like P.K. Subban and the overwhelmingly white, conservative old-boy network that governs hockey. GM Marc Bergevin and head coach Michel Therrien…get all the blame, but really, they’re no different from Mike Babcock and the people who run Team Canada or dozens of other league execs and coaches.”
Todd continues, “All we could do was to cover our ears and yearn for a P.K. interview. But Subban is gone, in part because, when it comes to dealing with brash young Black stars, the NHL is at least a quarter-century behind Major League Baseball, the NFL and (especially) the NBA….”
“It isn’t fair or accurate to call it racism – but the treatment of P.K. Subban is the product of a cultural divide that leads to profound failure to communicate. Now (fearless prediction alert) Subban is going to win at least two more Norris Trophies with a better coaching system in Nashville while Therrien gets to deal with Alexander Radulov, who could score 40 goals or be gone by Christmas.”
Again, this story was in the Montreal Gazette, July 4, 2016.
Genius put up his hand, “I don’t care what they wrote/said in the Gazette. Let me tell you the real deal, if you read Community CONTACT, when P.K. Subban came to Montreal in February 2010 we all agreed in the barbershop that he would last 4 or 5 years, even if he won the Norris Trophy (for best defenceman) in 2014.
When P.K. Subban (with Carey Price in net) and the team won a game, and Subban and Price gave high-fives we know he was gone. This is not the NFL, the NBA, or Major League Baseball. The GM and owner began shopping P.K. around. Montreal is not Toronto where they have a successful NBA team called the Toronto Raptors, and where P.K. would be loved by the fans.
The only reason why the great Jackie Robinson was successful in Montreal in 1946 was because he could not live—get a room—in a hotel because he was Black. So baseball executive Branch Rickey found him a place to stay in the east end of Montreal where there were no Blacks and nobody spoke English.
When Jackie came downtown he used to go to a place called the Chicken Coop on Stanley Street and St. Catherine. If Jackie wanted to go to a movie theatre he had to sit upstairs in the balcony. If he wanted to go up to the Laurentians there were billboards along the way that stating no dogs, Jews, or N…..s. This is the history of Montreal. And the people at City Hall are happy P.K. is gone. It’s obvious, there are 103 city councilors, only one of whom is Black.”
When P.K. Subban donated $10M to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, if he had done this in Toronto, New York, or Philadelphia, or Nashville, he would’ve been the greatest thing in the world for that city and sports franchise of that city. No one in the NHL had ever done something like P.K. You have to understand that we’re in Montreal. And Montreal used to be one of the greatest cities in the world, no matter what ethnic group you’re from. But always understand that if you’re from an ethnic group, the public will never vote you in as mayor of this great city.
Instead of “the situation” getting better in Montreal it’s getting worse. That’s why people have moved to Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton… over half a million of them. And if the player they got for P.K. Subban is better, why did Nashville get rid of him?
Dropout put up his hand, “Let me tell you something about hate, the opposite of hate is indifference.”
“Here’s an example: A Black guy is sitting in Nelson Mandela Park in Cote des Neiges, and Nelson Mandela would roll over in his grave if he heard this story.”
“So the blind man is Black, and he’s playing his music in Nelson Mandela Park. Somebody told him the music is too loud; it was the police. So the people sitting with him got up, and were walking away, the police grabbed the blind man, threw him to the ground and soon wrote him a ticket for over a hundred dollars for playing music “too loud?). One of them also said he head-butted him. Remember now, this is a blind man with a white cane. Now what is the judge going to say/do when a legally blind man with a white cane comes to court on a charge of assaulting (head-butting) a policeman?”
Remember, this is the atmosphere that P.K. Subban, superstar hockey player, and Black, was earning a living in, and not one city councilor, not even Marvin (who thinks ALL Blacks love him), stood up in Council to say anything.”
There was an “Amen” in the barbershop.
“So, when one is silent, what does that mean?”
Trevor Williams said, “All the hockey players that play for the Canadiens are grown men, doing something they love and are making big salaries, so why would they be jealous of P.K.?”
Dropout said he heard there’s a rumour going around that the Prime Minister of Canada called P.K. Subban, and that the GM also called him to apologize…
And the Ways and Means Committee heard a rumour that after Patrick Roy, P.K. Subban was the most popular player on the Canadiens team in 25 years. Rightly so! But a superstar player who is Black can never fit into the Montreal Canadiens organization that won 24 Stanley Cups. Why? Ask the owner.
And here’s something else, we don’t need a Ph.D to know that when P.K. Subban became close friends with Drake and Snoop Dogg and others , he had to go. That’s how it’s done in Montreal. “If you’re a N… got to go!”
It’s too bad. For a city like Montreal that preaches the idea and values of multiculturalism and diversity. Again, this is not Toronto, or Calgary that has a mayor not white, is a Muslim, and graduate of Harvard, and the people love him.
The Montreal hockey organization got exposed. And it’s unfortunate for the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the city.
Montreal is the city that produced the world’s greatest Jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, who was classically trained, and Oliver Jones, the current “world’s greatest Jazz piano player.”
Remember now, this is the same city where 12 Black children died in 1954. There is not a bench, lamppost, tree, anything dedicated in their memory. However, there’s a park bench in the name of the Great Antonio who pulled city buses and ate 15 hamburgers in a sitting…
Remember, this is the same city that named a metro stop after Lionel Groulx. If you don’t know whom Lionel Groulx was just Google him. This is the atmosphere P.K. Subban was playing in. But that’s just the surface.
Earl “the Pearl” Devine, from Cote St. Luc, phoned the barbershop and said, “We all lost a great man, Elie Wiesel 1928-2016. A Holocaust survivor, author, Nobel Peace Prize Winner… he documented life inside concentration camps and later became an outspoken activist against genocide and other forms of human hatred.
Earl Devine quoted Barack Obama, “Wiesel raised his voice not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms…He implored each of us…as nations and human beings, to do the same…”
Schoolboy raised his hand and said: “I read where they auctioned off Prince’s Purple shirt, and the one he wore in the movie Purple Rain, for $96,000…”
We asked a square from Delaware, a hardcore Uncle Tom: “Why haven’t you done anything for the 12 kids from St. Henri/Little Burgundy that drowned in 1954. How come?”
The square and friends said they don’t know about it because it was before my time.
So one of the regulars of the Ways and Means Committee interrupted, “How is it you know about Jesus at the Last Supper, the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus was crucified…”
Were you around then?
Always remember the year 12 of our finest young people drowned.
And always remember this: the most dangerous person in society is a person with a library card. All the information you want to know is at the library or in the Montreal CommunityCONTACT.

Peace and Love!