25 October 2007

Colour and Cricket

I know this and this are old news now but I think the issue deserves attention still. This is especially so in the light of the telling responses it has evoked. A lot of cricket fans have retaliated by insisting that Symonds' shouldn't be the one complaining since racism exists in Australia too. While most others have dismissed it as not racist at all. A few very passionate cricket fans in the crowd, they say, were only just animatedly reacting against Symonds' consistently good performance in the series. They simply got carried away, that's all. I don't know which of the two is more disturbing. How is pointing out instances of racial abuse in Australian cricket significant for this issue? I agree that the Australian team and crowds can get very aggressive too, or that what happened to Sharad Pawar wasn't exactly pretty, but that surely does not give people watching the game in Mumbai the right to jeer at Symonds the way they did. It's kindergarten logic to argue that two wrongs don't make a right. The rejection of any racist implications to be applied to the incident similarly does not hold.
"The Aussie all-rounder was not heckled because he is black. His ridiculous hair-do, clown-like face mask and show-pony fielding leave him open to the elements."
Allusions to his "clown-like face mask", "ridiculous hair-do", and later "clown make-up mask" are nothing but euphemisms for his ethnic background. It's almost equivalent to saying he was taunted not because he is black but because he has an element of blackness in him. Granted that Symonds had had a spectacularly good tour and that he does tend to get aggressive to the point of being theatrical at times. But that could also be said of several other players in that team too. Or in the Indian side for that matter. (Haven't people seen Sreesanth or Bhajji?!) So why was only Symonds singled out for such treatment? What is also mind boggling is BCCI's meek response and refusal to give the incident the sort of weight it deserves. All there was provision for was arresting the individuals under Section 110 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951 for indecent public behaviour. They were reportedly released half an hour later. I usually do not use the approach citing legal, constitutional provisions, but the lack of such provisions is obviously illuminating. *sigh* Why do we pretend that racism does not exist here? [It's not just areas like sport, where racism is so visibly manifest, but in several other places as well. More posts on that soon.]


Ottayan said...

To start with I am against racism.

Just to give the back ground about pointing to racism in Australia.

If you had followed the events as keenly as I did, you would have found double standards.

The players who sound reasonablehere in India, were raising passions through their syndicated columns back home.

In fact, one got the feeling that the Aussie media were building up an image that most of us were racists.

Ultimately, their cricket board had to step in, then only Ponting, Lee began making concillatory statements.

Once again, I reiterate, I am against racism, and this comment was a sort of backgrounder.


metaphysicallycomplicit said...

I’m aware of the way this event was projected in the Australian media, and you’re right in pointing out the double standards involved. But, as much as I hate segregating issues as related as this, my focus was on the Indian side of the situation – about crowd response in general, insensitivity about race issues, and sometimes, explicit racism.
I don’t seek to defend the Aussies at all. You’re quite right in pointing out what you did, but that sort of argument shouldn’t be used to condone the incident. (Not that I’m implying that that’s what you’re doing.)