Death and taxes used to be the only two certainties in life—but no matter how much progress it feels like we’re making sometimes, the sad fact is you can probably slide racism into that list, too. Are we in a moment of uprising that feels like it has the potential to create real, systemic change? Yes. Do people and organizations still show their ass on a daily basis? Oh, most definitely. And to keep tabs on all that ass-showing, we’re pleased to present our semi-regular racism surveillance machine. Stay woke, and keep your head on a swivel out there.
After two players provided testimony about their experiences playing cricket in Scotland, an independent review found 448 examples of institutional racism in the country’s national team. That’s right. Four hundred. And forty eight. Hot damn!
According to Associated Press, in an investigation spurred by personal accounts of players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh, the 225-year-old(!) team failed on 29 out of 31 different review indicators. (Silver lining: That’s like 6% non-racist!) The review discovered allegations such as racial abuse, favoritism toward White children from public schools, lack of transparency in selection process, and use of inappropriate language.
Apparently, the two areas where Cricket Scotland barely passed the bar were on an overall measure of “Are we institutionally racist? Are you sure? Can you check again with more White players?”
Cricket Scotland’s entire board resigned a few days before the report was officially published. The team tweeted the following statement:
If this were an isolated incident of one bad team with a lot of racist-ass rotten apples, that might be one thing. But this follows a similar scandal that rocked England, where former Yorkshire player Azeen Rafiq said the England and Wales Cricket Board says no action has been taken since he came out publicly in 2020 denouncing racist abuse and favoritism there as well. They literally responded with cricket(s).
If you’re like us, you’re probably thinking: You have to work pretty damn hard for someone to find 448 ways that you were racist. That, and, uhhh, how the hell is cricket played, anyway? Once, back in the early 2000s, we saw a cool Bollywood film called Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India that was nearly four hours long and all about cricket. Well, cricket and colonialism. But even after all that great filmmaking, we still had no idea how cricket worked as a sport.
Haq is described online as a "left-handed batsman," which makes sense. There's a bat and he swings it left-handed. Like baseball. Cool. But he also collects wickets, which makes him sound grandmotherly. ESPNcricinfo (which is a real thing) says Haq is also an "Off spin bowler," which sounds like bowling, so how does THAT off spinning even work? A ha! Cricket is just bowling but with smaller balls. And bats and wickets or something. Now it's more clear. Very racist, apparently, but more within our comprehension.
So kudos to Haq, Sheikh, and Rafiq for standing up to literal centuries of sports-related racism. If only they could explain cricket as a sport to us as well as they've explained how racist cricket teams have been.