Former Team India pacer and bowling coach of Chennai Super Kings Lakshmipathy Balaji said that discrimination can leave deep-rooted trauma inside those at the receiving end.
Speaking with Arun Venugopal, a sports commentator, on his chat show Homerun with AV on the YouTube channel Gethist Creative, Balaji opened up about mental health issues and the need for different sections of the society to come together to address the issues that cause trauma in people.
Commenting on how deep-rooted racism and discrimination is in the society, Balaji said that it has been normalised across socio-economic classes over generations. “Such culture starts from our homes where elders use fat-shaming nicknames to address the child. If a kid is on the heavier side, it’s not the kid’s problem. I have seen many such instances even within my own circle. They think such nicknames are endearments, but they don’t understand how it affects the child. People of all classes are guilty of it,” he said. Adding that sensitisation around the trauma such discrimination and bullying causes is the need of the hour, especially among the elders, Balaji said that any kind of bullying and name-calling based on face, size and height is 100% wrong.
The interview with Arun Venugopal took place on the sidelines of cricketer Darren Sammy calling out his teammates at Sunrisers Hyderabad for having called him ‘Kaalu’ in the locker room. Accusing his teammates of indulging in racism, Sammy told them that he learnt the meaning of the word from a Hasan Mihnaj show and had till then thought that it was a term of endearment. Following Sammy, many former and current Indian cricketers like Abhinav Mukund and Dodda Ganesh came out with their stories of being subjected to slurs based on skin colour.
Delving deeper into how having rules and regulations, though present, might not essentially help in solving this attitude prevalent among the people, Balaji said that people from across the spectrum have to join hands to battle this. “...until and unless people of different classes, races, and nationality recognise the seriousness of the problem - like they have in the case of the COVID-19 - this can’t be solved. The fear for our lives has led to greater emphasis on social hygiene. However, how are we going to quell the virus [of racism and discrimination] that has contaminated our minds?” he questioned.
Globally, tens of thousands of prominent voices have spoken against systemic racism existing in various spheres of the society. These conversations were sparked by the ‘Black lives matter’ campaign, which was a result of the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man by the police in Minneapolis in the United States of America.