Days after revealing that he had faced racist comments while playing for IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad, former West Indies skipper Darren Sammy has now decided to confront those who allegedly referred to him by the “derogatory word” ‘kalu’.
In an Instagram video message on Monday, he called out his one-time teammates to clarify if they were “degrading” him and if so, apologise.
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So recently I discovered a word that I was being called was not what it actually meant I need some answers. So before I start calling out names I need these individuals to reach out and please tell me there’s another meaning to that word and when I was being called it,it was all in love. #blackandproud #blackandconfident #clarasboy #saynotoracism #stopracism #cricketer #stlucia
Last week, Sammy had posted on Instagram that he had come to know the meaning of ‘kalu’ after watching a show by Indian American stand-up comedian Hasan Minhaj, and “instantly remembered” that he had been called “the exact same word” when he was part of the Sunrisers squad in 2013 and 2014.
Sammy’s then teammate at Sunrisers, Irfan Pathan, denied the allegation: “I have never seen someone calling Darren ‘kalu’. It has never happened in front of me, at least. He used to come to my room frequently to dine, especially biryani.”
However, the country does need to address the issue of racism, Pathan said. “I have seen in domestic games where there are some chants against South Indian players. We still haven’t talked much about racism in India. Sometimes we even call our brothers and sisters from the Northeast names. This problem is deep-rooted, and will only go away when we start educating and making people realise that passing remarks is not a good thing.”
Another of Sammy’s teammates, former India middle-order batsman Venugopal Rao, said: “I didn’t find anyone telling him that (kalu) in front of me. As a player, I was in the dressing room, on the field, but never did it happen in front of me. If he (Sammy) feels aggrieved, he can (retrospectively) take the matter to the BCCI. The BCCI is always there to help anyone.”
In his video, Sammy said that his teammates used to laugh every time he was called ‘kalu’. “I will be messaging those people, you guys know who you are, I must admit at that time when I was being called as that word I thought the word meant strong stallion or whatever it is, I did not know what it meant, every time I was called with that word, there was laughter at that moment, I thought teammates are laughing so it must be something funny.”
He added that Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera too, was at the receiving end of the racial slur.
“Every time I was called it – me and Thisara Perera — there was always laughter. Me being a team man, I thought, hey, teammates are happy, it must be something funny. You can understand my frustration and my anger when it was pointed out to me that it wasn’t funny at all, it was degrading.”
The then BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel, reacting to Sammy’s comments, said: “He (Sammy) never brought it to us, nor did the franchise. If he had brought the matter up in 2014, then we would have straightaway taken action by sending the complaint to the disciplinary committee.”
Directly addressing his teammates in his post, Sammy said: “I will be texting you guys and I will ask you as to when you called me with that name, did you all mean it in any bad way or form? I have had great memories in all my dressing rooms, so all those who used to call me with that word, think about it, let’s have a conversation, if it was in a bad way then I would be really disappointed.” He also urged his erstwhile teammates to talk to him and “clear the air”.
Sammy had earlier taken his protest, through social media posts, to the International Cricket Council (ICC), asking the game’s global body to open its eyes and speak up against racism. His posts came after the death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis, which led to the explosion of #BlackLivesMatter protests in the United States.
In old social media posts of Sunrisers players, Sammy does get referred to as “kalu”. On May 14, 2014, India pacer Ishant Sharma posted a picture on Instagram with Sammy and other team members with the caption: “Me, bhuvi, kaluu and gun (Steyn) sunrisers”.
Then, on November 1 that year, Sammy wished Sunrisers’ mentor VVS Laxman on Twitter: “Happy birthday @VVSLaxman281 May God continue to bless you. #bestdresser oh remember dark kalu”.
Sharma and Laxman didn’t respond to calls and messages.
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