Over the last two months, America has been having a long-overdue conversation about race, justice and equality in our society. At NBC Sports Washington, we wanted to further the dialogue by providing a forum for DMV-area sports figures who are thought leaders on these important issues.
NBC Sports Washington is launching the fourth part of an ongoing multiplatform content series entitled Race in America: Caps United for Change as part of the Washington Capitals’ initiatives related to diversity in hockey and racial equality.
This week, Capitals players Braden Holtby, Brenden Dillon, Garnet Hathaway and an alumnus, Joel Ward, joined host Chris Miller for the last of these roundtable discussions to share their thoughts, experiences and how they’re using their platform in this fight. To watch the full interview, click here.
NBCSW will present Race in America: Caps United for Change as a five-part daily short-form digital video series on NBCSportsWashington.com, with new episodes published Monday, Aug. 17, through Friday, Aug. 21, and as a 30-minute television special, which debuted on Tuesday, August 18, at 6:30 p.m. before Game 4 of the Capitals-Islanders first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series.
Growing up in Canada, Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillion was accustomed to living among numerous different races. With parents who preached inclusion or diversity, he aimed to treat everyone with the same respect. He never saw a difference based on someone's skin color or background.
“I was fortunate enough to have parents that taught me it didn’t matter the skin color, it didn’t matter what someone did for a living," Dillon said. "You treat everybody like family, whether that’s a schoolmate or a player on your team."
RACE IN AMERICA CAPS UNITED FOR CHANGE: WATCH THE FULL ROUNDTABLE HERE
Though Dillon carried this attitude, not everyone around him did the same. Both in Canada and in the United States he's seen the unfair treatment of others time and time again. His encounters with racism in the country have shown him just how real the problem is.
“You see, there’s definitely a difference in how people are treated," Dillon said. "Now being in the states in the last twelve-fifteen years of my life, you start to see why this is such a big thing and a big issue that needs to change.”
Change is something that society was worked to create over time, but specifically in the last few months following the death of George Floyd in late May. People across the country have shared their stories and demanded social injustice be expelled.
Athletes have been major catalysts in the movement and NHL players have made sure to not remain quiet on the issues. Dillon believes that is just the latest example of the inclusive mindset that players around the league carry.
“For hockey players in general, we consider ourselves people that want to do the right thing, want to stand by the right thing," Dillon said.
Looking toward the future, Dillon wants that to continue both in the NHL and in society. By having the tough conversations, he believes that the lessons he learned as a child can become a universal teaching point for the current and next generation. No matter the age, there is always room to grow and understand other's struggles.
"Whether that’s a young kid that’s just picking up a hockey stick for the first time or someone that’s in major junior or even starting their pro career," Dillon said. "Everyone’s teammates, everybody is here for the same common goal. To have fun and do something we love.”
In the end, what Dillon wants to see is a world that is focused on success and building one another up, rather than degrading someone because of a different background. Not just in sports, but throughout the country and the world.
“I think in any facet of life it shouldn’t matter what skin color you are, where you came from, how you grew up," Dillon said. "We’re all here together and want to be united as one.”