Former West Indies captain Daren Sammy has questioned possible references to the colour of his skin while he was part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad dressing room in IPL 2013 and 2014. He said he wasn’t aware at the time of the racist connotation of the word used, and has asked his former team-mates to clear the air on it.
In a video post on Instagram on Monday, Sammy spoke of some of his team-mates calling him a “degrading” name – in an earlier Instagram Story, on June 7, he had said the word used was kalu, a Hindi word with a colour connotation. In Monday’s post, Sammy said he initially thought the word meant something “uplifting” or “funny” as it often caused “laughter in the moment”. Now that he knows the meaning, though, Sammy said he wanted his former team-mates – whom he did not name – to reach out to him and tell him if they had meant it in “any way, shape or form” that was degrading, and if so to apologise.
Sammy said the word had been used for both himself and Sri Lanka allrounder Thisara Perera. In his case, Sammy said, team-mates “called me that word over and over again to the point that I was even saying ‘that’s my name'”. He said he thought it meant “strong stallion”, but he came to know of the real meaning when listening to a show by US-based comedian Hasan Minhaj.
“All those who used to call me that, you guys know yourselves… Reach out to me, let’s have a conversation. Because, if it was in any way, shape or form what Minhaj said it meant, I’m very disappointed.”
“I was listening to Hasan Minhaj talking about how some of the people in his culture view or describe black people,” Sammy said in his Instagram post. “Now that doesn’t apply to everybody, but I say this because of something I experienced. [Previously, on the Instagram Stories post on June 7] I said 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. Instantly I remembered when I played for Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013 and 2014, I was being called the exact same word that he described.
“I will be messaging those people – you guys know who you are. I must admit, at the time in which I was being called that, I did not know what it meant. I thought it meant strong stallion or whatever it is, and I saw no problems with it because I was ignorant to the fact of what it meant, I thought it meant something else, something uplifting.
“But, every time I was called it – it was me and Thisara Perera – there was always laughter in the moment. Me being a team man, I thought, hey, team-mates 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.
“So, I’m going to be texting you guys, and asking you guys, when you repeatedly called me that word over and over again to the point that I was even saying that’s my name, did you all mean it in any way, shape or form as a degrading word to me.
“I’ve had great memories in all the dressing rooms I’ve been in, as a T20 player, as a leader in a dressing room, as a captain, I’ve always been one to build up a relationship or build up a team, not bring it down. So, all those who used to call me that, you guys know yourselves, some of you have my numbers, you have me on Instagram, on Twitter, wherever. Reach out to me, let’s have a conversation. Because, if it was in any way, shape or form what Minhaj said it meant, I’m very disappointed, and I’ll still be angry, and deserve an apology from you guys, because I saw all of you guys as my brothers.
“So, talk to me, reach out to me, please clear the air.”
Sammy had played for Sunrisers in both 2013 and 2014, even captaining them in 2014. Perera had played for Sunrisers in 2013.
The Sunrisers franchise has been asked for a comment. However, ESPNcricinfo understands that the franchise is unlikely to make any comment as Sammy did not report the matter at the time and also he has not pointed fingers at the franchise. ESPNcricinfo has also asked the BCCI for a comment.
Sammy had also spoken out against racism last week, in the wake of the custodial killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white policeman in Minneapolis. Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25 after the police officer held him down with his knee on his neck for over eight minutes while he was handcuffed. The incident, captured on video, has sparked angry protests across the globe, with several cricketers speaking out as well. Sammy was among the very first active cricketers to publicly speak out after Floyd’s killing.