‘Why should I bleach the color of my skin to be deemed beautiful?’ Cricket star’s anger over racist Indian nickname

West Indian cricketer Daren watched a Netflix show shortly after the murder of George Floyd – a 46-year-old black man who died after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes Sammy heard comedian Hasan Minhaj describe the term “kalu”, a word used as a racial insult in the Indian subcontinent.

Sammy says his spirit immediately returned when he played in the Indian Premier League with the Hyderabad Sunrisers in 2013 and 2014 – and in particular when the nickname “kalu” was used to describe him and the Sri Lankan player Thisara Perera.

Perera declined to comment when given the opportunity.

The nickname has become so commonplace that Sammy says he even used it to describe himself.

Sammy believes that the same importance should be given to anti-racism as to anti-doping or corruption.

In those years with the Sunrisers, Sammy and his teammates have reached the IPL playoffs. He says that one of the main reasons for their success was “unity and camaraderie and the way we fought”.

Fast forward to 2020 and versatile Sammy – a former captain of the Caribbean team – experienced a range of emotions as he began to realize how “kalu” was actually used.
In a video he posted on Instagram, Sammy called on former teammates who used the nickname to reach out for a conversation about the word.
He says he has since told a former teammate that he was “operating in a position of brotherly love”. However, Sammy thinks that the term is not appropriate and should no longer be used.
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Sammy gives a helping hand to the crowd while he plays for the St Lucia Stars.

“The right is the right”

Sammy’s realization came just days after Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, United States, on May 25 and in the protests that followed shortly after.

“It came at a time when racism and social injustice and systemic racism were in the foreground of everyone’s mind,” said Sammy.

But Sammy’s social media accounts show a number of people who defend the nickname – and even call it that. Their argument is that the word is not racist and is just a nickname.

However, Sammy says that continued use shows that there is still a huge “part of (South Asian) culture that really needs to be educated”.

“As a leader, you have to have tough conversations and I’m not afraid of having it. It doesn’t matter,” he says. “Good is good. There is no wrong time to do the right thing.

“This is part of the education and discussion of these topics which will help to publicize this culture.”

Parvez Rasool, one of Sammy’s Sunrisers teammates in 2014, said he was “unhappy” that the term was being used against Sammy.

“If someone used such words against Sammy, it is unfortunate,” he told CNN. “I was part of the team, I really enjoyed playing under his command. He is a very happy man.

“This conversation never took place before me. But, if anyone used derogatory words against Sammy, it is extremely unfortunate.”

The Indian Cricket Control Board, which regulates the IPL, did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

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Sammy dances with his teammates on a stage before the start of the last Pakistan Super League cricket match.

“I think I am beautiful”

Although officially abolished in 1950, Indian society is still largely classified by caste.

The caste system categorizes Hindus at birth – defining their place in society, what jobs they can do and who they can marry. Those at the bottom of the system are called “untouchables”.

And in popular Indian culture, people from lower castes are often depicted as having darker skin. Sammy thinks this crossover between caste and colorism explains some of the prejudices he sees in India, “where the powerful really stifle the less fortunate,” he said.

“To me, that symbol of the cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that’s what he showed me. It was like a man with suffocating power someone who can’t help himself.”

Sammy celebrates his victory at the ICC World Twenty20 tournament after beating England in the final.

The police murder of Floyd led Sammy to reconsider his time in India and this period of reflection also led him to reflect on India’s long history with brightening products.

Some Bollywood stars have been criticized for promoting “fairness” creams.

Last month, Hindustan Unilever announced that it would “stop using the word” Fair “in the brand name” of its skincare brand “Fair & Lovely”. The company also acknowledged that it had previously harnessed “the benefits of fairness, bleaching and skin lightening” when marketing its products.

“Any place that continues to promote the fairer you are, the more beautiful you are, so you have to understand that something is wrong with this system,” said Sammy.

“What about people who look like me? Isn’t it beautiful? Because I think I’m beautiful. But why should I discolour or lighten the color of my skin to be considered beautiful? That’s wrong. And it is a difficult subject but it is the one that must be taught. “

Sammy, who has played 38 test games for the West Indies, said the international cricket governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), must also take responsibility for educating players and fans about racism. .

“The ICC is trying to protect the game, and well they are. Every cricketer entering international cricket or playing in the league, the first thing they do (is) to have an anti-doping and anti-corruption seminar” , he said.

“You are educated. They have campaigns around the world of cricket that educate you on these things. I think the same importance should be given to anti-racism, learning from other cultures.

“If you understand my story, if you know where I come from, what drives me to play cricket, then you will understand how to describe myself, you will understand why I do what I do. So, when you feel like me say something about the color of my skin, you would know it, you would be educated as you know, I have come a long way. “

The ICC did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

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Sammy watches after being fired at the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.

‘Equal opportunities’

Like other sports, representation is another problem that the game faces.

According to Sammy, very few teams around the world have minority black, Asian and ethnic head coaches, which must be rectified if the sport continues.

“How many color coaches do you see in cricket? Do you think you will ever see a color coach being the head coach of England or also of Australia or New Zealand?” Said Sammy.

“How do you give people here in the Caribbean an equal opportunity when you don’t really give them a chance to see how good they are. Give us more opportunities to show you that we are good too.”

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“But you see, we are embracing quote unquote, a white coach, in the West Indies, in South Africa, in Pakistan. Why is it so easy for us to kiss the whole world and it is so difficult for the world to kiss some of us? “


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