South Africa’s Faf Du Plessis shares strong message against racism
Over the past few months people from all walks of life have joined the debate against racism and that includes sports persons as well. Former West Indies fast bowling great Michael Holding’s passionate appeal against racism during the build-up to the Test series between England and West Indies has led to several current and former cricketers to address the issue as well.
South African cricketer Faf du Plessis recently took to Instagram to share a lengthy message on the subject.
“In the last couple of months, I have realized that we must choose our battles. We are surrounded by many injustices in our country that require urgent attention and action to fix them. If we wait only for the ones that attack us personally, we will always live for “my way vs your way” and that way leads us nowhere,” Du Plessis wrote.
“So I’ve remained silent, with the intent to listen, but not respond. Slowing down my point of view, but quicker to hear the pain of someone else. I knew that words would be lacking and that my understanding is not close to where it needs to be. I surrender my opinions and take the knee as an intercessor. I acknowledge that South Africa is still hugely divided by racism and it is my personal responsibility to do my best to emphasize, hear the stories, learn and then be part of the solution with my thoughts, words and actions,” he added.
Du Plessis said he is commenting on the prevailing situation now because “if I wait to be perfect, I never will”.
“I have gotten it wrong before. Good intentions were failed by a lack of perspective when I said on a platform that - I don’t see colour. In my ignorance I silenced the struggles of others by placing my own view on it. A race problem is a human race problem, if one part of the body hurts, we all stop, we empathize, we get perspective, we learn and then we tend to the hurting part of the body,” he said.
“So I am saying that all lives don’t matter UNTIL black lives matter. I’m speaking up now because if I wait to be perfect, I never will. I want to leave a legacy of empathy. The work needs to continue for the change to come and whether we agree or disagree, conversation is the vehicle for change,” the cricketer concluded.
Thirty former South Africa cricketers, including Makhaya Ntini, Herschelle Gibbs and Vernon Philander, on Tuesday came out in support of the global Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, saying racism remains part of the game in the country.
In a statement, the former cricketers also threw their weight behind current South Africa pacer Lungi Ngidi, who was recently criticised by ex-Proteas like Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar for supporting the BLM campaign. Ntini, Philander, Gibbs, Ashwell Prince, JP Duminy and Paul Adams were among the 30 cricketers who have signed the statement.
“We commend Lungi Ngidi for supporting Black Lives Matter - and we’d like to add our support for it too. We note the criticism aimed at Lungi for expressing his views and we hope that Cricket South Africa (CSA), together with fellow cricketers - both present and past - will come out strongly in support of BLM,” read the statement which was published on ‘Sport24’.
“We note too that the most outspoken criticism directed at Ngidi has come via former players such as Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar, Rudi Steyn, Brian McMillan and others, and we urge that their views be challenged.”
The former players said they were not surprised when the likes of Symcox and Dippenaar criticised Ngidi. Dippenar had responded saying “all lives matter” and Ngidi should also talk about the death of white farmers in the country.
“Given South Africa’s well-known past, black cricketers have borne the brunt of subtle and overt racist behaviour for many years, including from some colleagues... there is a need to understand how white privilege feeds into the perpetuation of these old attitudes and assumptions,” the statement said.
“Our attitude, mistakenly, we now believe, has always been to say: ‘These are teething problems, and that these will be resolved if we are patient’.
“But after almost three decades of cricket unity, the views expressed from one side of the racial divide are still very much part of our lives, and we now believe: ‘Teething problems cannot be allowed to continue for this long’.”
Racism has become a topic of global debate following the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in the USA. Several cricketers, including West Indians like Michael Holding, Chris Gayle and Darren Sammy, have opened up about their own experiences while voicing support to the BLM movement.
On day one of the first Test between England and the West Indies last week, Holding had delivered a powerful speech on racism. The West Indian great had said that the black race has been dehumanised and it will continue to be a victim until the entire humanity is not educated on racism.
(With agency inputs)