Akim Aliu believes it's time for society, and particularly white-dominant hockey culture, to educate itself regarding racism and what minorities deal with daily.
In a TSN interview on Tuesday alongside San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, the former NHLer shared his perspective on the protests that have swept across the United States after George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis last week. He discussed how change for the better can begin.
"I think it starts with educating yourself," Aliu said. "Find a way. It's 2020, just look at the history, look at what our ancestors have been through to get to where we are now. Hockey's a tough sport to sell that message to because, for the most part, you need to come from privilege to be able to sustain economically, to be able to play the game.
"But I feel like if you take that upon yourself to learn and educate yourself on what black people, people of color, and indigenous people have been through to get to where they are now, and still to be treated like this, there isn't much more we can take. I think it's just come to a boiling point with what we're seeing around the world, but I think the first step is starting to educate yourself, try to understand what it's like in our shoes for a day, a week, or even a month, and they'll realize it's not something they want to be apart of."
In November, Aliu shared that then-Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters called him the N-word during their time together in the AHL. Peters admitted to using the offensive language and ultimately resigned.
Aliu has since been publicly involved in pushing for more inclusivity in the sport at all levels. He met with commissioner Gary Bettman in early December to share his stories and ideas for change, and then Aliu wrote a powerful piece on The Players' Tribune in May detailing the racial abuse he dealt with his entire career.