Cricketer Daren Sammy says he faced racism during India IPL stint

Ex-West Indies captain says Hyderabad Sunrisers team-mates called him ‘kaalu’, but he didn’t know what the word meant.

Darren Sammy
Daren Sammy gestures during a news conference in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in this March 5, 2020 photo [File: Anjum Naveed/AP]

Former West Indies cricket captain Darren Sammy has alleged he was a victim of a racist slur used by his Indian team-mates when he played for an Indian Premier League (IPL) team in 2013-14.

In a video that Sammy, 36, posted on social media on Tuesday, he said his Hyderabad Sunrisers team-mates used to call him “kaalu”, Hindi slang for black, but he did not know what the word meant.

Sammy said some unnamed Sunrisers team-mates would call him “kaalu” and he only became aware of its racial connotations after watching a TV show that discussed the issue.

“I was listening to [Indian-American comedian] Hasan Minhaj talking about how some of the people in his culture view or describe black people,” Sammy said on Instagram.

“… 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,” he said.

“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.”

Sammy said he will be “messaging those people” to seek an apology from the Indian players.

“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,” he said.

Sammy said the word “kaalu” was also used to describe Sri Lankan team-mate Thisara Perera.

“I assumed it meant something else that was uplifting. But every time I was called it, it was me and Thisara, there was always laughter in the moment,” he said.

“But you could understand my frustration and my anger when it was pointed out to me that it wasn’t funny at all.”

‘Racism not restricted to colour of skin’

Sammy’s outrage comes in the middle of raging global protests against the killing of George Floyd, a black man, in the United States, late last month.

Several elite athletes have spoken out about racism in sport and society after Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis city.

Former India test fast bowler Irfan Pathan said he has witnessed players in Indian domestic cricket being racially abused.

“We need to educate our people because I’ve seen them [racial jibes] in domestic cricket,” Pathan said on Wednesday.

“Some of our cricketers from the south, especially, have faced that in the northern and western parts of the country,” he said.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Pathan also said, “Racism is not restricted to the colour of the skin. Not allowing to buy a home in a society because you have a different faith is a part of racism too.”

Pathan, a Muslim from India’s Gujarat state, was referring to many from the community denied accommodation by the landlords in Indian cities for their religion.

“So much more to your story,” tweeted Sammy’s former West Indian team-mate, Chris Gayle – also a big IPL star in India when he played.

Sunrisers Hyderabad declined to comment when contacted by the Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, Indian media reports featured a 2014 Instagram post by former Indian cricketer Ishant Sharma, in which the caption of his photo with Sammy purportedly described the West Indian player as “kaluu”, using a different spelling for “kaalu”.

View this post on Instagram

Me, bhuvi, kaluu and gun sunrisers

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

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies