When the metropolitan riveters of the first hockey federation launch their Black Rosie swimsuits this week it will mark a new era in the representation of black women in sports.
“Black Rosie represents more melancholy people and their stories in all walks of life, especially hockey,” explained Jasmine Baker, director of brand strategy for Metropolitan Riveters.
Baker, who is black, was approached by team reporter Erica Ayala with the idea of increasing representation on the jerseys, and from there, the idea was born.
“We celebrate the unsung heroines of the past while supporting the women of hockey who are making breakthroughs today,” continued Baker. “It was an incredible experience to bring this project to life.”
The Riveters jersey has always featured an image of “Rosie the Riveter”. During World War II, Rosie the Riveter was the star of a campaign to get more women into the wartime workforce. Millions of women in America joined the workforce, working in shipyards and factories, building airplanes and managing railroads. Women have moved the country.
Of these women, despite the fact that the original Rosie was depicted as a white woman, there were over half a million “Black Rosies”.
The impact of the “Rosie the Riveter” campaign and the “We Can Do It” slogan extended beyond the war. Many women who joined the workforce during World War II stayed.
The jersey, which will debut Feb. 26 when the Riveters take on the Toronto Six, was announced by the hockey world, including Black Girl Hockey Club founder Renee Hess.
Hess sees the many black women involved in creating the jersey and the funds to be raised as a step in the right direction.
“There are a lot of reasons why the Black Rosie jersey the Riveters released this Black History Month is important,” Hess said.
“The art was created by a young black artist and hockey fan, Jordan Dabney; proceeds benefit the Black Girl Hockey Club, an organization dedicated to uplifting black women in the sport of ice hockey; the idea came to fruition, after years of planning, thanks to Jasmine Baker, a black woman working in the Riveters organization as director of brand strategy. The entire project shows a commitment to supporting black women in hockey.
Toronto Six star Mikyla Grant-Mentis, a black woman, is currently the PHF’s leading scorer and reigning most valuable player. After a career in the NCAA with Merrimack, Grant-Mentis joined the Buffalo Beauts last year before signing with Toronto in the offseason. Los Angeles Kings scout Blake Bolden was the first black player to compete in the NWHL, now PHF, when she debuted in 2015.
The growing representation of black women in hockey extends beyond the PHF. Sarah Nurse became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in hockey. She set a new Olympic single-tournament points record with 18 points in seven games.
For decades, the Black Rosies have been forgotten in history.
As historian Aaron Randle has written, “What Rosie’s iconic image fails to convey is the diversity of this workforce, especially the more than half a million ‘Black Rosies” who worked alongside their white counterparts in the war effort…”Black Rosies” worked tirelessly – in shipyards and factories, along railroad tracks, inside administrative offices and elsewhere – to combat both the foreign enemy of authoritarianism abroad and the familiar enemy of racism at home.For decades, they have received little recognition or historical acknowledgment.
When the Metropolitan Riveters’ “Black Rosie” jersey makes its debut, it will be another step to correcting this gap in historical recognition and, as Hess says, to moving the game of hockey forward.
“Representation and fairness in the sport is how we drive the game of hockey forward and the Riveters are showing the rest of the hockey world that investing in black women is a great way to elevate the game.”