“Some people say things and don’t even realise what they are saying or the effect it might have on a black person.”
It is impossible to completely wipe off racism from the world, feels fast bowling great Michael Holding, who would "bruise his knee" to the grave if he was still an active player but doesn’t want anyone to take the gesture as "a tick-in-the-box exercise".
Holding was speaking on Sky Sports’ ‘The Cricket Show’ on the first death anniversary of African-American George Floyd, who died at the hands of a white police office in the Minnesota last year.
"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," Holding said during a panel discussion that also had former England captain Nasser Hussain and woman international Ebony Rainford-Brent.
"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," he added.
Holding feels that the gesture of "taking a knee" should be organic rather a "tick the box" exercise but he doesn’t believe in telling people what their choices should be.
"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," he said.
The West Indian great, who now lives in the United Kingdom, said not everyone can understand the challenges that black people endure through their lives.
"People don’t understand what it is like to come under that sort of pressure throughout your entire life. Some people say things and don’t even realise what they are saying or the effect it might have on a black person.
"It’s something they get accustomed to saying," the 67-year-old, one of the most respected cricketing voices across the globe, said.
Holding didn’t hide the raging anger he has felt at times while interacting with people who resort to casual racism which can be equally hurtful.
"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?," he said.
Holding agreed that there could be times that the intent of a comment is not racist but for a black person, who has suffered, that’s the first thing that comes to mind during interactions.
"I have no idea – but as a black person the first thing that comes to your mind, because of the constant battle with racism, is racism. Sometimes you are wrong, sometimes the person is not racist, but it builds up inside of you and the first thought is racism." Holding believes that UK hasn’t done enough to weed out racism.
"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.
"I see a lot of action in the US. Big corporations in the US putting up millions and millions of dollars toward programmes to levelling the playing field," he said.
"Apart from Sky, who are we seeing in the UK doing anything? There is a little bit of lip service every now and again but what really positive signs of action have we seen?" he asked.
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