West Indies great Michael Holding once again spoke about racism on Thursday, elaborating on his personal experiences on and off the field. Only this time, the legendary pacer couldn’t hold back his tears.
The delay on the opening day of the first Test at Southampton between England and West Indies saw Holding, Rainford-Brent (the first black female cricketer to play for England) and former England captain Nasser Hussain speak about their experiences of racism in cricket and why the Black Lives Matter movement was important.
West Indies captain Jason Holder later thanked Holding for his “powerful” monologue. The all-rounder was the star of the show on day two in Southampton, picking up six wickets to hand his team the advantage.
“When I was a young man, used to walk away from it thinking ‘it is not affecting me’. But you can see the victimisation,” Holding told Sky Sports News.
“You can’t just walk away because it doesn’t affect you. And that is why I had to say what said. It was not planned. The video was recorded a week before we landed in Southampton. It was pent up inside of me and I just had to say it.”
Holding elaborated on the institutionalised racism in school and society. He added, “If you go back many centuries, the entire society was built around white people. I was never taught anything about blacks in schools. I did about nine years there [in school] but I wasn’t any good.
“It can’t be good for your mental health when you are taught that anything good is done by the white man while bad things are done by the black man. Your kids grow up thinking they have no chance achieving like the others their same age but a different skin colour.
“….it cannot continue like this. People are people. How about explaining everything and not just what is suitable to be explained.”
Holding delved on his own personal experiences, stating that he was never on the receiving end of racial abuses from fellow players but cited examples of facing it while touring England, Australia and South Africa.
“I have not had one cricketer pass a racist remark to me but while I was fielding at fine leg and third man…you know what people would say,” the 66-year-old said.
“In the UK, I was standing with my wife on the street, who is from a Portuguese background. I put my hand out to stop the taxi and as the car was approaching us, the lights went off. Someone across the street recognised me asked me to put my wife – the white lady – in front.
“In Australia, years ago, one white guy didn’t enter the lift when it stopped on his floor. Fine, he felt intimidated by four big black guys. But as the lift was shutting, he made a racist remark.
“In South Africa, I went to the World Cup with my wife, same lady. We stood at the lobby, trying to book us in but they only booked hers because in their minds, She [a white lady] and I can’t be together. We laugh about those things when I am not living in this society. Sometimes, in my head, I grimace about these things. But we cannot laugh, grimace and keep moving on. It’s time for a change.”
Holding, however, said he was encouraged by what he saw in protest marches across the world in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the United States.
“Some protest marches for George Floyd have more whites than blacks. And that is a huge change,” he said.
“I hope it doesn’t go back to normal. The train should keep on moving. I am 66 years-old and may not see that [change]. My grandson is six and I hope, when he becomes a man, there will be nothing about black, brown, white or pink; people will get opportunities based on their skills. You cannot change what is in people’s heads overnight.
“The emotions came out when I was thinking about my parents. I know what they went through. My mother’s family stopped talking to her because her husband was ‘too dark’.”
Watch Michael Holding talk to Sky Sports here: