If I had stood up against racism, my career would have ended: Holding

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26 May 2021 | 03:26 AM
authorcricket.com staff

If I had stood up against racism, my career would have ended: Holding

The former West Indies pacer spoke about racism in sports and the Black Lives Matter movement

Former cricketers and two of the most respected experts, Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent once again spoke at great length about racism in sports and the Black Lives Matter movement on the eve of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder. The two spoke passionately about Floyd's death last year and the racism they have seen and experienced.

Speaking on a special edition of The Cricket Show on Sky Sports, Holding said: "I think everyone recognises that the worldwide gesture to support Black Lives Matter and the entire cause is taking a knee. I don't see why that is something that should be difficult for people to do. It is a worldwide acknowledgement - everyone knows what you are doing when you take a knee.

"I saw a women's football team in Sweden take a knee before a game, I saw a young cricket team in Scotland take a knee before a game, just to say we are supporting this cause. I am not going to tell people they must take a knee - I am not here to tell people what they need to do. I don't want people to take it as a tick-in-the-box exercise. You must want to support the cause, you must be willing to understand and see that something is wrong and this is the worldwide accepted way of showing support for the cause.

"Why stop it? Unless you think we have made enough ground and are travelling in the right direction and are well on the way and can move on from taking a knee. But, right now, I don't think we have made enough ground, especially in the UK. I am going to be blunt now. I don't see enough action in the UK.

"You will always have racism, always have racists. Getting rid of racism totally is like saying you are going to get rid of crime totally. It is impossible. The less crime you have in your society, the less racism you have in your society, the better off the world is as we go ahead."

The former West Indies fast bowler had criticised England and Australia for opting not to take the knee in support of the campaign to fight racial injustice last summer. With England men's cricket team not taking the knee for almost entire last summer, former England batter Rainford-Brent said: "I am somewhere in the middle on this. When it comes to cricket, I felt we should have taken a knee for the summer (but) it was parked quickly.

"I don't mind it being parked if there is action and things are happening but with the roots of our game and how cricket has been used as a tool through history to perpetuate white supremacy, I thought it would have been a great opportunity to say 'this is our moment'.

"I wasn't expecting it to trickle over to this season but I thought - a meaningful amount that left enough in the consciousness. The danger is twofold. One is if you go on too long and it can feel like people lose track of it happening and lose awareness.  

Holding said he couldn't fight racism while he was playing because it would have ended his career. "As a black person, when you hear certain people say certain things it burns inside. I have had many occasions when people have said something or treated me a particular way when I think to myself 'are they just rude or are they racist? Is it because I am black that they are treating me this way or is it because they don't know any better because they are rude?

"As a young man growing up and playing the game, whenever I came across any racism, I was quite selfish, I just brushed it off. I am glad I had that attitude because if I was to rebel against it, demonstrate against it, I wouldn't be sitting here now. I would not have had as long a cricket career as I had because we see what happens to the people who talk about injustice and racial prejudice.

"People have gone to the Olympics, first and third on the podium, raised their hand to signify they are against racism, and their careers came to an end. We don't even need to go back that far. A picture of Colin Kaepernick is on the front of my book. Look at his career. He stood up and said he is tired of this because it is wrong and his career came to an end. 

"It is obvious, if I had stood up and done anything to signal my disgust my career would have ended. That is just the world we live in."

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