It took seven years and a revelation from Darren Sammy to wrap around the fact India is not alien to the concept of racism. While the former Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper’s experience received a lot of attention, lest we forget, it is always the darkest under the lamp. Unfortunately, Indian athletes are not foreign to racial slurs and insults.
With the talk of racism out in the open for the good, several Indian athletes have stepped up to reveal their experiences with the issue.
The star shuttler was subjected to racism right from a young age. It took a while for her to understand the gravity of the words she was subjected to on a regular basis. Her fair skin often became the talk in South India rather than her ability.
She claimed that things escalated when she was met with insulting calls of “Nepali” and added that social media has flared things up with the gift of anonymity. While she believed that ignoring it will make it stop, but gradually over time realized that it is not a solution. Names such as “China ka maal” and “Boycott Jwala” have become regular occurrences as part of online trolling and the shuttler has made it clear that she is not going to hide and will call out these people.
According to the former Indian hockey captain, addressing teammates on the basis of their skin colour is not where things fall apart as it comes from a place of affection. Bhaskaran claimed that such instances were common during his playing career as well as during his days as a student but he never found it offensive.
However, as per Bhaskaran, things escalate when people are branded and resorted to regional segregation based on the place from where they hail. This affects Bhaskaran as he claims that whenever he used to step out in the field, he represented India and not Madras. Slurs such as ‘Arre Madrasi pass de na‘ or ‘Oye idli sambhar, pass de‘ would flare up Bhaskaran, and for the right reasons as well.
The 2006 Women’s Boxing Champion stated that she has been victim to a lot of racial abuse over the years. She asserted that like her, every athlete from the north-east would have been subjected to racism. According to Devi, Due to their differences in appearances and the locality of the region, many Indians are not familiar with them.
In a shocking revelation, the boxer stated that she was called as a “Junglee” (wild) by one of the top coaches in the national training camp. The group from the north-east were always leered on as a result of their eating habits but they had to curb their instinct to retaliate as their career was at stake. Names such as “Chinky”, “Momo” had to be ignored by Devi for the sake of her career.