When the Metropolitan Riveters of the Premier Hockey Federation debut their Black Rosie jerseys this week, it will mark a new era in representation for Black women in sport.
“Black Rosie represents more melanated people and their stories in all spaces, especially hockey,” explained Metropolitan Riveters Director of Brand Strategy Jasmine Baker.
Baker, who is Black, was approached by team reporter Erica Ayala with the idea of increasing representation on jerseys, and from there, the idea was born.
“We’re celebrating unsung heroines of the past while also supporting the women in hockey making major inroads today,” Baker continued. “It was an amazing experience bringing 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 entice more women into the wartime workforce. Millions of women in America joined the workforce, laboring in shipyards and factories, constructing aircraft, and managing railroads. Women kept the country moving.
Among those women, despite the fact the original Rosie was represented as a white woman, were more than half a million “Black Rosies.”
The impact of the ‘Rosie the Riveter’ campaign, and slogan ‘We Can Do It’ extended beyond the war. Many of the women who joined the workforce during WWII remained.
The jersey, which will debut February 26 when the Riveters face the Toronto Six, has been heralded by the hockey world, including by Black Girl Hockey Club founder Renee Hess.
Hess sees the many Black women involved in the creation of 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 that 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; the proceeds benefit Black Girl Hockey Club, an organization meant to uplift Black women in the sport of ice hockey; the idea came to fruition, after years of planning, because of 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 MVP. After an NCAA career 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 made her debut 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 record for points in a single tournament with 18-points in seven games.
For decades, Black Rosies were all but forgotten in history.
As historian Aaron Randle wrote, “What the iconic Rosie image doesn’t convey is the diversity of that workforce—specifically the more than half-million “Black Rosies” who worked alongside their white counterparts in the war effort…“Black Rosies” worked tirelessly—in shipyards and factories, along railroads, inside administrative offices and elsewhere—to fight both the foreign enemy of authoritarianism abroad and the familiar enemy of racism at home. For decades, they received little historical recognition or acknowledgment.”
When the Metropolitan Riveters ‘Black Rosie’ jersey debuts, it will be another step in correcting this gap in historical recognition, and as Hess says, in moving the game of hockey forward.
“Representation and equity in sports is how we move 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 uplift the game.”