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'Remember dark kalu': Racism debate reminds Sammy of his message to Laxman

Rituraj Borkakoty/Dubai
Filed on June 12, 2020
Sammy recently revealed that his former teammates at the Sunrisers Hyderabad had referred to him as 'Kalu' in the 2014 Indian Premier League

Having expressed shock and anger at discovering the meaning of 'Kalu' -- a Hindi word for black, Darren Sammy remembered a birthday message he had sent to VVS Laxman in 2014 on Twitter, indicating the Indian batting legend might have been a silent spectator to racist jokes on the former West Indies captain in the Sunrisers Hyderabad dressing room.

Sammy recently revealed that some of his former teammates at the Sunrisers Hyderabad had referred to him as 'Kalu' during the 2014 Indian Premier League.

The giant all-rounder from Saint Lucia didn't know back then what the word meant and only came to know the meaning of it while watching a television programme hosted by Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj.

"I was listening to Hasan Minhaj talking about how some of the people in his culture view or describe black people," Sammy said on his Instagram page.

"... I was angry after listening to him describing a word that they use to describe black people, which he was saying is not in a good way... and it was degrading.

"Instantly I remembered when I played for Sunrisers in 2013 and 2014, I was being called the exact same word he described that was degrading to us black people.

"I will be messaging those people... Because if it was in any way, shape or form what Minhaj said it meant, I'm very disappointed and I'd still be angry and deserve an apology from you guys.

"You guys know who you are. I must admit, at the time in which I was being called that, I did not know what it meant. I thought it meant strong stallion or whatever it is, and I saw no problems with it because I was ignorant to the fact of what it meant, I thought it meant something else, something uplifting."

While it's still not clear whether his unnamed former teammates have apologised to him yet, but Sammy, during an interview with espncricinfo.com, remembered a birthday message he had sent to VVS Laxman in November, 2014.

"I thought it (kalu) meant a stallion. If you notice back in 2014 I sent a Happy Birthday tweet to VVS Laxman. I said: "Happy Birthday to you brother. Hope you have a great day." And I started laughing. And I said, "remember dark kalu," Sammy told espncricinfo.com.

"So I was saying: remember the dark stallion. So, imagine (now) you listening six years later and somebody from that culture telling you, 'Hey, bro, this word has a degrading meaning to you because of the colour of your skin'. Then automatically you want to have a conversation.

"Like I said to the guys, let's have a conversation about it. I don't know what's in people's hearts. I challenge anybody to question my commitment to team building in all the dressing rooms I have played in."

One of those unnamed former Sunrisers teammates did reach out to Sammy, the only captain to have won two T20 World Cups.

"One of the guys (a 2013-14 Sunrisers teammate) has reached out to me and we are having a conversation about it," Sammy said.

"It's someone I could bet still has a big poster of me and him hung up in his dressing room where I signed it and I said: "Brothers for life." And I still mean that. But it doesn't take away or change the fact that certain words that are being used could come across as degrading because of the colour of your skin. And whether you are my friend or I see you as a brother, we will or we should have the conversation about that," Sammy added.

The death of an unarmed black man in police custody in the US has led to widespread anti-racism protests across the world with some of the world's biggest sporting icons supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

rituraj@khaleejtimes.com





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