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Black Ice (2023) movie review and synopsis

Through multi-generational testimonies from black hockey players, we learn about the racism athletes endure from teammates, coaches, leagues, and fans who believe they don’t belong in the sport. There is no shyness in the doctor’s testimony. The film gives its subjects the same blunt expression that has been weaponized against them, and the result is unfiltered emotional depth that translates poignantly.

“Black Ice” fundamentally understands the weariness of black people used for their talent and skills, paraded as the athletic representation of the cities they play in, who are constantly abused privately and publicly. From cryptic comments such as “mishandling” to equipment managers wearing blackface and coaches berating black players for warming up to rap music, there is no limit to the casual application of violence and absolutely zero room for interpretation.

“Black Ice” is about black hockey players, but it also contains damaging examinations of the ways in which sports culture is a microcosm of mainstream culture. Hockey is a Canadian pride and joy, and with that being said, the abuse allowed within it is itself a statement of priority. One of the most chillingly ironic moments in the film features a white man throwing a banana at a black player, only to come out and say he wants to get over it and move on with his police career aspirations.

One of the film’s strongest tenets is its multi-generational and gender-inclusive lens. On the younger end of the spectrum, we hear stories about the monetary costs of playing hockey—from equipment to lessons to team expenses—that create a level of financial inaccessibility in the predominantly white sport. However, we also hear fond memories from the sport’s older athletes and pioneers who poured buckets of water on a cold day to create their own rink. “Black Ice” examines the evolution from complete exclusion to predatory inclusion that occurred in sports.

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