Daren Sammy’s Appeal Should Make Us Own Up and Finally, Change

Daren Sammy’s appeal should be an eyeopener for us all.

4 min read

(Edited by Varun Sharma)

Daren Sammy spoke out and he wanted us to listen.

‘I thought you were my brothers.’ he said to his former IPL team-mates after learning that the name he had been given by them, didn’t mean ‘something uplifting’ like ‘stallion’, as he had been made to believe it did.

It was a racist term.

And it’s important that I mention it here, so you can know what it is and remove it from your vocabulary as well, he was called ‘kalu’. Daren Sammy was called ‘kalu’ by his Sunrisers Hyderabad teammates, as is proven in the below Instagram post of Ishant Sharma’s from 2014.

View this post on Instagram

Me, bhuvi, kaluu and gun sunrisers

A post shared by Ishant Sharma (@ishant.sharma29) on

So now, even as this proud T20 World Cup winning captain of the West Indies sat on that video and said he never doubted his mates before even though there was laughter all around when they called him ‘kalu’, many Indians thought it right to remind him that he himself had used the word to refer to himself in a birthday Tweet to Laxman.

‘Oh remember dark kalu,’ writes Sammy as he signs off in the tweet. Remember dark ‘stallion’ is what he thought he was writing because that’s what he had been made to believe it meant.

But the very fact that he is having to explain what he meant and none of the cricketers have spoken out publicly about what they meant when they used the word, is what should have us all introspecting.

Instead, there were more tweets defending the use of the word. ‘These are words used for fun’, ‘nickname used by friends and family’, ‘my mum calls me kalu’, ‘it’s very common in India’.

However, one tweet even caught Sammy’s attention and his reply to it is the eyeopener we all needed.

“Kalu” is not always a racist slur. It’s also be an endearing term used in Indian families. It depends on the context/tone. Yes, it could be racist. Not always,” said a user.

Sammy’s reply- ‘So if there can be a racist slur to it I don’t think it should be used.’

Simple. Millions of words in the universe, let’s start filtering out some.

And if Sammy’s reply doesn't make ‘the problem’ here clear enough, in an audio interview to ESPNCricinfo on this matter, Sammy said something even more heartbreaking when asked why players are asked to accept things like this and take it as ‘banter’.

His reply:

“Why must my people endure 400 years of slavery and still have to adapt. Why is it that always people of colour have to adapt to oppression. Why can’t the other side change and see us differently?”
Daren Sammy

Your one word that you have normalised, is a term that generations have fought against.

Even in India, not just colour - we’ve for so long used someone’s caste, religion, physical attributes to refer to people. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, as kids we’ve seen everyone do it. But now, if a man is trying to open your eyes and is asking you to change. Let’s at least try.

‘My mother calls me kalu with love’ some one had said? Well, stop her then. Ask your mother to call you lovingly by your given name.

Don’t tell Sammy its okay because your mother calls you that, tell your mother its not okay, because the word hurt a man and it hurts many, many others.

There is a need to address India’s cricketers in this as well. Or their silence. Among the few who have spoken up, however, has been a very disappointing viewpoint shared by former Indian test cricketer Yajurvindra Singh who is also in fact is a representative of the Indian Cricketers Association.

“Giving names to a cricket colleague is an accepted practice and taking offence and asking for an apology is quite ridiculous. Sammy has played enough cricket over the years in India to realise that such banter should stay in the confines of the dressing room rather than making it into a public spectacle,” he wrote in a piece written for IANS.

No sir, the spectacle is you writing these words and you asking a player to accept something that is not right. The ‘accepted practice’ needs to change, be it in cricketing dressing rooms or in our homes.

Let’s set a better example.

Wouldn't it be great to see Virat Kohli, as the captain of the Indian cricket team, reach out to Sammy and maybe just apologise on behalf of Indian cricket and the Indian cricket fans? He wasn’t in the dressing room at SRH but he’s the face of Indian cricket and a small gesture like this from him will be a great learning lesson for many who idolise him. Let’s have Sourav Ganguly, the president of the BCCI, reach out to Sammy and tell him he will try to make sure this doesn't happen at least to any of the younger cricketers coming up the ranks.

Because That would make us the leaders in world cricket.

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