K’Andre Miller, the 20-year-old former first-round pick of the Rangers who in April was subjected to racist epithets during a Zoom chat with fans, weighed in Monday on the subject of racism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
“I want to express my growing concern for the safety of our citizens of color, specifically in my home state, given recent events,’’ said Miller, a Minnesota native, in a statement posted on his Twitter page Monday evening. “I support the Black Lives Matter movement.’’
Miller, a 6-5, 210-pound defenseman who was the second of three first-round picks the Rangers made in the 2018 draft, had just signed his first professional contract after the conclusion of his second season at the University of Wisconsin. With the NHL on pause since March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rangers arranged a Zoom chat with 500 fans to introduce him, but someone hacked into the call and typed repeated racial slurs that Miller was able to see. After the call was over, the Rangers and the NHL put out statements decrying what happened and promising an investigation into the matter.
Miller, who has a black father and a white mother, did not issue a response to the incident until Monday, when he spoke out a week after the death of Floyd, a black man who was killed when a white Minneapolis police officer pinned his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The police officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third degree murder on Friday, and there have been protests across the country — some of which have turned violent — during the past few days.
“I’ve struggled for months to find the words to express my frustration and anger over the Zoom conference call incident when I was introduced after signing my NHL contract,’’ Miller said in his statement. “It’s something that I won’t ever forget. But with COVID-19 taking a stranglehold on the nation, it seemed like there were so many other priorities in the world, that it wasn’t my place to speak out about that incident. This pandemic isn’t discriminatory, it has been difficult for everyone and the priority was to keep everyone safe.’’
Miller went on to say that he has “never been fully accepted by either the black community or the white community’’ and that throughout his hockey career, he has had to deal with being “one of the only people of color’’ on the teams he played on. He talked about “being targeted because of my race’’ by parents, coaches and players when he was in youth hockey and spoke about how being drafted by the Rangers was one moment when he “didn’t have to be defined by the color of my skin, but rather on my hockey skills, athletic ability and character.’’
“This is how it should be all the time,’’ he concluded. “It’s time for action, time for change and once and for all, it’s time to let black people be judged based on who we are, not what we look like.’’