“What made me speak out? I have faced racism personally”
Sumit Nagal is India’s highest ranked singles tennis player at world No. 127. The 22-year-old is currently in Germany.Updated: Jun 03, 2020 19:32 IST
It broke my heart to see what happened to George Floyd. I watched the video (of the incident) and don’t have words to describe it—I can’t watch that video again. It pains me to see what the world has come to, how people are being treated on the basis of their colour—it is something I can never accept.
What has made me speak out is I have faced racism. I have travelled the globe as a professional tennis player and experienced it myself. Some countries are worse when it comes to racism. It’s also prevalent in Germany (Sumit Nagal trains at the Nensel Academy in Germany). I understand from my experience how people feel about it because I have been there. I have often been asked different things and singled out in a group merely because I’m darker. I have been questioned more every time I get out of the plane in a few countries because of my colour. These things have happened to me frequently. I’m very, very sure I will be picked again and again—because I know this is seen as normal.
No man or woman should be treated or judged by the colour of their skin. Everyone has a heart, a family, and a human face. I have never treated anyone like that. I don’t like to see my friends or people I know treat anyone differently because of their colour or because they are from a different caste, etc. I hate it, I can’t stand it. This needs to end.
It’s not surprising to see many sportspersons—even legends—around the world speaking up. There was the odd noise before, but now there is a sense of ‘enough is enough’. What happened to Floyd is extremely brutal. Nobody needs to be treated like that. He was handcuffed, and he was yelling he could not breathe. (It happened) just because someone abused power thinking he owned this world. This has made people wake up to see the reality and realise if this doesn’t stop today, it will get more disastrous going ahead.
Sportspersons must be more vocal about such issues. They are celebrities in their countries where people follow them. It will be really sad if they think talking about racism isn’t a good thing. I really hope people speak up because it just isn’t right. I’m not talking about any particular country—I’m talking about racism in the whole world. It’s not only about black or white; it’s about every type of racism.
I know some people in India question Indians speaking up on this issue while being silent about problems in the country. I know what they’re talking about. Since the end of last year, we’ve had a lot of issues. But I feel it was very politically motivated. The way they were doing things was very different. It definitely wasn’t right. A lot of things happening in my country are not right as well. But there’s only so much one can do. All I can do is change myself and change those around me. Hopefully we can all then walk on the right path.
I hope incidents like these stop and nobody is treated differently because of their colour. I hope they feel free, get the same respect as other human beings.
And we can live in a world without racism one day.
(As told to Rutvick Mehta)