Azeem Rafiq is right – when are we going to be seen as ‘one of us’ rather than ‘one of them’

The experience of the former Yorkshire cricketer will strike a chord with many, writes Salma Shah

Wednesday 17 November 2021 13:43
<p>Azeem Rafiq gives evidence before the DCMS Select Committee</p>

Azeem Rafiq gives evidence before the DCMS Select Committee

English cricket is “institutionally” racist, according to former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq. In uncomfortable and moving testimony at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee, he detailed the years of racist torment he suffered at the hands of teammates and the way in which it was ignored by management.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC), in fairness, looked into the claims of racism – and former chairman, Roger Hutton, told the committee he "fears" the club is institutionally racist – but dismissed the obviously racist language as “banter” and took no action against those responsible. This total failure of leadership has thrown the club and the sport into crisis, resulting in senior resignations and sponsorship being pulled. If Rafiq had not bravely pursued this, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation at all, with the facts of his case being carefully tucked away in the filing cabinets at Headingley.

This is not a problem confined to cricket. Those of us who are second generation children of immigrants still face the classic dilemma of the “dual identity”. But what was once considered a conflict between one’s familial cultural and mainstream society has turned into the conflict between wanting to join society and being rejected by it.

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