The West Indian cricketer Darren Sammy has criticized his former teammates in the Indian Premier League (IPL) after discovering that a nickname he was given – ‘Kaala’ – was a derogatory term for black people.
The 36-year-old St Lucian, who played for the Sunrisers Hyderabad team in the IPL in 2013 – 2014, said in an Instagram post on Monday that he had become “angry” whilst listening to a monologue by American-Indian comedian Hasan Minhaj about the racist treatment of African Americans by Indians.
Minhaj made his comments in last week’s episode of his hit Netflix show Patriot Act.
“I was listening to Hasan Minhaj talking about how some of the people in his culture address or view black people. Now that doesn’t apply to everybody, but I say this because of something I experienced. I was angry listening to him describing a word that they use to describe black people which he was saying is not a in a good way and it was degrading. Instantly, I remember when I played for Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013-14, I was being called the exact same word that he described”, Sammy said.
As Black Lives Matter demonstrations spread around the world, Minhaj took the opportunity to call out the hypocrisy of people in India who had joined in the protest on social media, seemingly oblivious to their own racism.
“Dude, do you know what we call black people? We call them ‘kala’, it means black — not in a good way. If someone in your family is dark skinned, we clown them. We call them ‘kallu’, ‘look at kallu’”, Minhaj said.
Sammy said that he had not known what the word meant at the time but there was “always laughter” when it was used.
“I will be texting you guys and asking you guys, when you repeatedly called me that to the point where I was even saying ‘that’s my name’, did you all mean it in any way, shape or form as a degrading word?”, he asks in his video.
“I have had great memories in all the dressing rooms that I’ve been in… so all those who used to call me with that, you guys know yourself… reach out to me, let’s have a conversation. Because if it was in any way, shape or form what Minhaj said, then I’m very disappointed and I would still be very angry and deserve an apology from you guys, because I saw all you guys as my brothers”, Sammy added.
In the comments section on Sammy’s Instagram and Twitter accounts many expressed their anger and disappointment to the cricketer whilst others described his post as “drama”, saying that it was common for nicknames to be used “affectionately” in India.
There has been criticism in India, especially against members of the Bollywood fraternity for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement despite widespread importance placed in the industry for fairer skin – evident in the promotion of “skin whitening creams” by numerous Bollywood stars.