Sammy says his mind immediately returned when he played in the Indian Premier League with Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013 and 2014 – and especially when the nickname “kalu” was used to describe him and Sri Lankan player Thisar Perer.
Perera declined to comment when given the opportunity.
The nickname became so common that Sammy says he even used it to describe himself.
In those years with the Sunrisers, Sammy and his teammates reached the IPL playoffs. He says one of the main reasons for their success was “unity and camaraderie and the way we fought for each other.”
‘The law is right’
“It came at a time when racism, social injustice and systemic racism were at the forefront of everyone’s opinion,” Sammy said.
But Sammy’s social media accounts show how many people defend the nickname – and even call it. Their argument is that the word is not racist and is just a nickname.
However, Sammy says the constant use shows that there is still a huge “part of (South Asian) culture that really needs to be educated”.
“As someone who leads, you have to have difficult conversations and I’m not afraid to have them. It doesn’t matter,” he says. “It’s okay. There’s no wrong time to do the right thing.”
“It’s part of educating and talking about those subjects that will help bring awareness out there into that culture.”
Parvez Rasool, one of Sammy’s Sunriser teammates in 2014, said it was “unfortunate” if that term was used against Sammy.
“If someone used such words against Sammy, it’s unfortunate,” he told CNN. “I was part of the team. I thoroughly enjoyed playing under his captain. He is a very cheerful man.
“This conversation never happened in front of me. But if someone used derogatory words against Sammy, it’s utterly unfortunate.”
The Cricket Control Committee in India, which regulates IPL, did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
‘I believe I’m beautiful’
The caste system categorizes Hindus by birth – defining their place in society, what jobs they can do and who they can marry. Those at the bottom of the system are called “untouchables”.
“To me, that symbol is a cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that’s what he showed me. It was like a man in power strangling someone who can’t help himself.”
The police murder of Floyd made Sammy reconsider the time he had spent in India and that period of thinking also made him think about India’s long history with skin lightening products.
Some Bollywood stars have been criticized for promoting the “honesty” cream.
“Every place you promote fairer, the prettier you look, then you have to realize that something is wrong with that system,” Sammy said.
“What about people who look like me? Aren’t they beautiful? Because I believe I’m beautiful. But why would I whiten or lighten the color of my skin to consider myself beautiful? That’s not right. And it’s a difficult subject, but it has to be to learn. “
Sammy, who has played 38 test matches for the West Indies, said the international cricket governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), must also take responsibility for educating players and fans about racism.
“The ICC is trying to protect the game, they are doing well. Every cricket that comes into international cricket or plays a league, the first thing they have (is) having a seminar on anti-doping and anti-corruption,” he said.
“You are educated. They have campaigns all over the world of cricket that educate you about these things. I think the same emphasis should be placed on anti-racism, on learning about other cultures.
“If you understand my story, if you know where I come from, what makes me play cricket, then you’ll understand how to describe me, you’ll understand why I do what I do. So when you like something about the color of my skin, you know, you were be educated as you know what I am, I have gone far. “
The ICC did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Like other sports, national team is another problem the game faces.
Sammy, on the other hand, has very few black, Asian and minority national coaches, which should be corrected if the sport moves on, Sammy said.
“How many color coaches do you see how cricket moves? Do you think you’ll ever see a color coach be the head coach of England or also Australia or New Zealand?” Sammy said.
“How you provide equal opportunities to people here in the Caribbean, when you don’t actually give them a chance to see how good they are. Give us more opportunities to show you that we are good too.”
“But you see, we accept the quote of a quote, a white coach, in the West Indies, South Africa, Pakistan. Why is it so easy for us to embrace the whole world and so hard for the world to embrace a few of us?”