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Blackness is a Gift I Can Give Her

Blackness is a Gift I Can Give Her

(Pre-Order, Oct 8 2024)

R. Renee Hess
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From the founder of Black Girl Hockey Club, a collection of deeply insightful and piercing essays shedding light on the history of Black excellence in hockey, the future of Black joy within the sport, and the ways we can all do better when it comes to recognizing--and upheaving--systemic and institutionalized racism.

Growing up, R. Renee Hess didn't care about hockey. In fact, she was barely aware of it. She was born and raised in Southern California, hardly a hotbed for the game, despite the state having three NHL teams. But, as Hess puts it, she is "a fan of being a fan," and when she found herself stuck in traffic after a Pittsburgh Penguins game, the streets filled with cheers, something sparked within her. Ever since Hess made that discovery, she has been actively trying to bust the myth that "Black folks don't like hockey."

In this collection, Hess shares her hockey origin story and how she came to recognize hockey culture's lack of authentic engagement with Black communities, tracing her journey to becoming a true game changer. But, as an academic, Hess knows that her singular viewpoint can't tell the full story, so she reached out to former hockey players, league executives, activists, fans, media, and to the parents and youth shaping the future of the game. We hear directly from players such as Sarah Nurse and Saroya Tinker; from trailblazers like Bernice Carnegie and Kim Davis; and from the collective of Black Girl Hockey Club scholarship awardees and their families, emphasizing the importance of community and support for marginalized players. The result is a hockey book truly unlike any other.

With essays that touch on representation and harmful stereotypes, the many nuanced aspects of biracial identity, being the only person of colour in the room, and the virtues of a lively group chat, Blackness Is a Gift I Can Give Her is a love letter to Black women everywhere, as well as a scathing ode to a game that Hess loves, even if it doesn't always love her back.


R. Renee Hess works in community engagement for La Sierra University, and in 2018, she launched the Black Girl Hockey Club, a nonprofit organization that focuses on equity and inclusion for Black women in ice hockey. In June, 2021, she was named one of three finalists for the NHL's Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award, for individuals who have positively impacted the community, culture or society through the sport of hockey. Hess received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in writing and literature at La Sierra University, and has published nonfiction works and poetry in outlets such as Black Nerd ProblemsSpectrum Magazine, and Racebaitr.


  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
  • Publish Date: October 08, 2024
  • Pages: 272
  • Dimensions: 5.5 X 8.25 X 0.63 inches | 0.86 pounds
  • Language: English
  • Type: Hardcover
  • EAN/UPC: 9780771004629
  • BISAC Categories: Cultural, Ethnic & Regional - African American & Black, Discrimination & Race Relations, Sociology of Sports



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