West Indies cricket great Michael Holding has delivered an blistering monologue in which he says that society has been “brainwashed” into accepting racism and the only way to fight it is through education.
The former fast bowler addressed the subject during a rain delay on the opening day of the first Test between England and the West Indies at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
England and West Indies players knelt in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the start of play.
Prior to the match, the 66-year-old and former England women’s international Ebony Rainford-Brent featured in a video in which they spoke about the racism that they had experienced during their careers.
“When people reply to me saying ‘all lives matter’ or ‘white lives matter’ — please,” Holding said. “We black people know white lives matter — I don’t think you know black lives matter. So please don’t shout back ‘all lives matter’; the evidence is clearly there that white lives matter. We want black lives to matter now.”
Holding, who took 249 Test wickets, said he experienced little racism growing up in Jamaica and first encountered it during tours to Australia and England.
The solution, he said, was widespread teaching on the roots and spread of racism.
“I went to Australia on my very first tour, 75-76, I had never experienced racism while on the cricket field…but I heard comments being passed [from the crowd] and I just thought, ‘these people are sick,'” Holding said.
“Education is important unless we want to continue living like the life we are living and having demonstrations every now and again and a few people saying a few things,” he said.
“When I say education, I mean going back in history. People need to understand this thing stems from … hundreds of years ago. The dehumanisation of the black race is where it started. People say, ‘That was a long time ago, get over it’. No, you don’t get over things like that.
Holding also referenced the recent video of Amy Cooper threatening to call the police on a black man in Central Park who asked her to put her dog on a lead, describing a “thought process that she was white, this man is black. If I call a police officer, nine times out of ten he’s going to be white.
“I’m going to be considered right immediately, the black guy will have to prove that he is not guilty. By the time he proves he is not guilty, he might be dead.
“How do you get rid of it in society? By educating people, both black and white. I hear people talking about brainwashing – I didn’t quite understand as a young man what brainwashing meant… We have been brainwashed in different ways.”
Holding drew attention to the way such attitudes permeate and distort education.
“You can tell me who invented the light bulb: Thomas Edison. Everybody knows that he invented the light bulb, but he invented a light bulb with a paper filament — it burnt out in no time at all. Can you tell me who invented the filament that makes our lights shine? Nobody knows because it was a black man. It is not taught in schools. Lewis Howard Latimer invented the carbon filament … Who knows that?
“Everything should be taught… I was never taught anything good about black people and you cannot have a society …. that only teaches what is convenient.
“History is written by the conqueror, not those that are conquered. History is written by the people who do the harm, not by those who get harmed, and we need to go back and teach both sides of history and until we do that and educate the entire human race, this thing will not stop.
“They keep on telling me there is nothing called ‘white privilege’ — give me a break. I don’t see any white people going into a store on Oxford Street and being followed. A black man walks in, someone is following him everywhere he goes. That is basic white privilege.
“Whether that white person is going to rob the place or not, he is not thought of that way. And things like that have to change.”