Racism in Indian Cricket

This is an extremely sensitive topic so I have to be clear that I do not support any form of discrimination. I support peaceful protests but not the violence that has come to be associated with it whether they are from opportunists or people being defensive. I believe that All Lives Matter and diversity is essential for progress. Darren Sammy has come out and said that certain people in Sun Risers Hyderabad called him “Kaalu”. Kaalu (pronounced Kaa loo) or Kaala (Kaa laa) is the word for the colour black just as negro or negra is in Spanish. The word black, when associated with an object, is perfectly fine but now we come to dealing with people and whether calling someone black is racist or not. The first thing to understand is that India is not a homogeneous country. Crossing the border of one state is like going into a different country altogether where everything from the language to the food is completely different. People also look completely different. People from the north of India tend to be fairer than those in the south and those in the northeast look more Chinese than Indian. In India, fairer people are more desirable and are considered to be more suitable for marriage than those that are darker skinned so is this racism? The answer is not that simple as it depends on the frequency, tone and intent of use. The Indian government has banned the use of racial or skin-related ads or words but the fairness product is a multi-billion dollar industry in India. A North Indian calling a darker-skinned South Indian Kalu will most probably be racist but the same word when used between close people whether relatives or friends may not be considered as racist. If you have a problem with the word or any nicknames then you can tell the group to stop and if they care about you then they will.

Darren Sammy has said that he liked being part of all the dressing rooms that he has been part of and he thought that Kaalu meant stallion. A simple search on google would have shown than Kaa laa or Kaa loo meant black but the word Kala (pronounced ka la) means art. The word for horse is Godha but the word for idiot which is derived from the word for donkey is Gadha. There are very small nuances in Indian languages. I know about three languages and one dialect and can understand three others and I still cannot get certain words right! This issue should have been dealt with a long time back instead of airing it out on social media at a time when racial tensions are igniting the world. Something like this was bound to happen because people from across the world were paid a lot of money and put in a pressure cooker environment.

I cannot write about racism without mentioning Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh. Symonds accused Harbhajan of racial discrimination for calling him a monkey. The truth is that he did not but what he did was significantly worse! Harbhajan abused Symonds by cursing his mother. I do not want to speculate on the whole curse phrase but if you want to be enlightened then check this link. Look for the words starting with Teri Ma ( or Maa) di ( or Dee). Maa Dee in Punjabi or Maa Kee in Hindi sounds similar to Monkey but having those curses uttered to me would infuriate me significantly more than being called a monkey.

Darren Sammy said that he is going to contact the players that called him kaalu and I hope that things are settled between themselves because the last thing we need is a racial incident to occur just as the long-needed Test match between England and West Indies is about to kick off. So far protests and remembrances has mostly been restricted to wearing black armbands. India controversially wore camouflage caps in support of Indian soldiers. Players have been targeted by the crowds in a racist manner and players being targeted by their colleagues is a step too far. Cricket needs to celebrate diversity that exists within teams so the last thing we need is people to take actions that will break the harmony in teams.

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