An Edmonton sports agent whose company represents CFL players across the country is being shamed on Twitter for a post of himself in blackface wearing a prison costume.
Mindy Grewal took a screenshot of an Instastory Jason Staroszik posted on his Instagram account Thursday night. The post shows a man in blackface wearing an orange prisoner jumpsuit and flashing a gang sign.
Staroszik is listed the CFLPA website as a player agent and owner of New World Agency. The site lists Staroazik as representing players from five CFL teams including three Edmonton Eskimos.
“I was honestly really appalled initially because I know the type of work he’s in and I know the type of people that he represents,” said Grewal, an acquaintance of Staroszik.
“To see this come out from a younger person who should be aware of situations like this that are happening, it was really kind of gross.
“I don’t want his career to be over but I would like him to acknowledge what he did was wrong,” she said.
Straroszik declined an interview with CBC News but sent a statement saying the picture was from 2013.
“The costume was intended to push the limits of what is socially acceptable but still be in good fun, without harming or offending anyone,” the statement reads.
“The costume was well received throughout the night, with no controversial or negative accusations. There was no issues surrounding the costume the night it was worn or in the five years that have past.”
Straroszik said he understood that in light of current media stories “why someone would try to bring this photo to life five years after the fact, to try to prove a point of what is or isn’t acceptable to their beliefs.”
CBC News requested reaction from the Edmonton Eskimos organization including the players represented by New World Agency, but the request was declined.
On Twitter, Eskimos wide receiver Jamill Smith Jr. called out Staroszik for being unaware blackface is rooted in racism.
“This is trash. If you don’t know this history of blackface, then go look it up,” Smith tweeted.
‘Not racist … just stupid’
Former Edmonton Oilers player Georges Laraque said Straroszik should know better.
“It’s not racist, but it’s just stupid,” Laraque said.
“It’s impossible to not know how much negative attention this has drawn when people are doing this [blackface]. Every time somebody does it publicly, people get upset and it’s all over the place.”
The backlash is fair, Laraque said, but compared to more serious acts of racism, blackface gets more attention than it deserves.
“I understand why some people take offence to it, but there’s actually black people dying, suffering injustice way worse than somebody wearing a Halloween costume,” Laraque said.
“That’s why I think it’s better to put energy toward better and more important cause.”
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.