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Sportsnet on-air hosts share what they’ve learned from those who’ve paved the way before them

February 18, 2021

Articles

In honour of Black History Month, we asked Donnovan Bennett and David Amber, two prominent faces on Sportsnet, to share their thoughts on what Black History Month means to them and to provide some inspirational words to Black youth across the country.

Here is what they had to say:

What does Black History Month mean to you?

David Amber: Black History Month is a great opportunity to reflect on the history, culture and incredible contributions of the Black community. It’s also a chance to show respect for the significant sacrifice so many have made, and continue to make, in the fight for equality in all aspects of life. Last summer, my family and I attended a Black Lives Matter march in Toronto. It was uplifting to see so many people come together to call for equality and justice. Just like last summer, Black History Month is a time to recognize our struggles even as we continue to work together for change.

Donnovan Bennett: Black History Month to me is a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements of Black people. Since there has been a lack of education of Black History in our school systems and a lack of representation of Black stories via the media, Black History month is a chance to unapologetically course correct for that.

Who from the Black community inspires you?

David: I am inspired first and foremost by my mother, Phyllis Amber, who grew up in Jamaica. After high school, she worked for four years and saved up enough money to attend university here in Canada. She is kind and smart and I couldn’t have asked for a better role model growing up.

Beyond my family, the people who inspire me the most are those who have shown courage in the face of oppression. I am inspired when I think of the physical and emotional pain the late American congressman John Lewis endured for decades fighting for fair housing, education, and voting rights. Today, Lewis’s legacy lives on through the work of social justice leaders, like Stacey Abrams and Bryan Stevenson. 

As someone who works in sports, I am grateful we have so many iconic and inspiring athletes to look up to. Muhammed Ali, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson and Fredericton’s Willie O’Ree confronted racism with dignity, class and perseverance. In recent years, athletes like Colin Kaepernick, who sacrificed his career to take a stance against police brutality, continue the fight for social justice.

Donnovan: I’m lucky to cover athletes like Stephen Curry and LeBron James and executives like Masai Ujiri and Michael Clemons, who use their platform for greater good which inspires me to try and do the same. But if I had to really choose it would be the Black immigrants, people like my parents and grandparents, who choose to come to this country to give their offspring a better life. We talk a lot about Black trauma, but we don’t talk enough about Black legacy. The immigrants who come to Canada and bring their culture, their work ethic and their love not only enrich the future of their families, they enrich our nation.

What words of inspiration would you say to young Black children of today?

David: I hope all Black children remember that there is no ceiling to your excellence. Be proud of who you are and follow your dreams. As the illustrious Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Keep pushing for social justice and equality for all.

Donnovan: Maya Angelou said it best “I am the dream and the hope of a slave.” If you are part of the Black diaspora one of your ancestors at some point went through an atrocity, to stay alive and so that you can have a better life. So, know whatever life presents you, you are built to overcome. Don’t see your race as a disability see it as a superpower. Your heritage can be an intrinsic advantage if you apply it correctly. So be proud and be prepared to succeed.