The term ‘bending the knee’ took a whole new meaning when the ever-popular Jon Snow did the same in popular drama ‘Game of Thrones’. The simple action took a whole new turn when star National Football League (NFL) quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his 49ers teammate Eric Reid chose to kneel during the United States national anthem and raise awareness about the issues of racial inequality and police brutality against the ‘Blacks’ in America.
The unfortunate death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week has flared up the issue once again and the whole of USA is now feeling the heat which the racially-persecuted Americans were feeling for years and possibly many decades. The movement ‘#BlackLivesMatter’ has garnered worldwide support, especially from the sporting community.
The embers of this fire has now touched India as well. Former India and Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund was the first one to bravely speak up on this issue. In a sentimental tweet on Tuesday (June 2), Mukund wrote: “I have been travelling a lot within and outside the country since I was 15. Ever since I was young, people’s obsession with my skin colour has always been a mystery to me.
“I have been subject to a lot of name calling and I have laughed and shrugged it off because I had bigger goals! Today I am speaking up not just for me, but for many from our country who experience ridicule based on the colour of one’s skin,” the tweet read.
Mukund’s admission was quickly followed up by another Indian cricketer speaking up on the issue – former India and Karnataka pace bowler Dodda Ganesh.
“This story of @mukundabhinav, reminded me of the racial jibes I went through in my playing days. Only an Indian legend was witness to it. It only made me strong & didn’t deter me from playing for Ind & ovr 100 mts for Karnataka,” Ganesh tweeted.
This story of @mukundabhinav, reminded me of the racial jibes I went through in my playing days. Only an Indian legend was witness to it. It only made me strong & didn’t deter me from playing for Ind & ovr 100 mts for Karnataka @StarSportsKan— ದೊಡ್ಡ ಗಣೇಶ್ | Dodda Ganesh (@doddaganesha) June 3, 2020
ಕಪ್ಪಗಿರೋರು ಮನುಷ್ಯರೇ. ಮೊದಲು ಮಾನವರಾಗಿ. pic.twitter.com/ZV8c8YPmpM
But while most of the premier sportspersons in the world are vocal about such a critical issue like racial discrimination in the 21st century, it is puzzling the learn that apart from Mukund and Ganesh, no other Indian sportsperson has come out in support of this movement.
NBA legend Michael Jordan – an icon and role-model for many a sportperson all across the globe – came out with a brutally honest statement on Twitter as well.
“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” wrote Jordan in a statement. “I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.”
The six-time NBA champion, said on Sunday (May 31) that Americans needed to work together to find answers to the country’s problems.
“I don’t have answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn out backs on senseless brutality,” he tweeted.
Statement from Michael Jordan: pic.twitter.com/lWkZOf1Tmr— Jordan (@Jumpman23) May 31, 2020
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton isn’t one to hold back on the issue as well. The six-time world champ, vented his anger on the issue for the second time with a statement on Tuesday (June 2).
“This past week has been so dark. I have failed to keep hold of my emotions,” Hamilton said in a statement. “I have felt so much anger, sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen.
“I am completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people,” the British driver tweeted.
“We stand with you, and all people in the fight against racism,” a Formula One statement said. “It is an evil that no sport or society is truly immune. And it is only together we can oppose an eradicate it. Together we are stronger.”
When icons such as Jordan and Hamilton can be brave and bold enough to speak up on such a pertinent issues, cricketers and sportspersons in India need to set an example for the youth and join this movement to stem out racial discrimination from the world.
It’s the duty of every sporting idol in this country to move beyond the stand social media banter and take a stand in issues that really matter.