Former cricketers Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent on Wednesday called for an end to institutionalised racism through fundamental change in society and better education.
The delay on the opening day of the first Test at Southampton between England and West Indies presented an opportunity for West Indies great Holding, Rainford-Brent (the first black female cricketer to play cricket for England) along with former England captain Nasser Hussain to speak about their experiences of racism in cricket and why the Black Lives Matter movement was important.
Broadcasters Sky Sports aired a piece on racism before the three former players aired their views on the issue.
Here are excerpts from what the trio said about the Black Lives Matter movement:
What I want to expand about is education. Education is important unless we want to continue living the life we are living and continue having demonstrations every now and again with few people saying few things.
What I mean by education is people going back in history, what people need to understand is that this stems from a long time ago. The dehumanisation of the black race is where it started and people will tell you get over it. No, you don’t get over things like that and the society has not got over that.
I remember my school days, I was never taught anything good about black people and you cannot have a society that is brought up like that, both black and white, that only teaches what is convenient to the teacher. History is written by the conqueror, not by those who are conquered. It is written by people who do the harm, not the ones who get harmed. And we need to go back and teach both sides of history and educate the entire human race, [otherwise] this thing will not stop.
I think it’s time for us to get focused. I want to see accelerated change in all areas of society. We need to talk about two things, one: where we are now but, two: I think there’s an exciting possibility if we all come together, which we are starting to do and collectively talk about it.
I just want to drill a bit into cricket... let’s look at if cricket values the black community. Let’s talk about positions of power and you go down the lists – black ECB board members, black directors of cricket, black head coaches, black players... the number is zero in all those columns.
In terms of the men’s game we’ve seen a decline in 75% of the men’s game of black players and many who did play, came through and learnt their trade in the West Indies. When we look at black players who have come through our system, it’s very low and you compare that to sports like football and athletics, the numbers are rising, even rugby to an extent..
The women’s game as well zero black players and zero diversity. The last player to play after me was Sophia Dunkley but the current team is all white. So anyone who says there isn’t an issue, we need to be honest.
Of course, I have [experienced racism] with my surname growing up in South Sussex, East London with an Indian dad and an English mum. Getting little bit from both sides. Fielding on the boundary in various parts of the world and people saying, ‘he is Saddam, why don’t you go back to where you came from?’ That’s small stuff compared to Michael and Ebony.