‘Until we educate the entire human race, this will not stop’: Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent deliver passionate speech on BLM before England vs West Indies

Former West Indies great joined England’s first female black player Ebony Rainford-Brent to produce a powerful and emotive feature on why Black Lives Matter needs to lead to systemic change

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Wednesday 08 July 2020 12:23 BST
England vs West Indies: How do the captains compare?

Former West Indies cricketer Michael Holding delivered a powerful and emotive speech alongside former England player Ebony Rainford-Brent to explain why the black lives matter movement has to lead to a change in education, having drawn on not only their own experiences but those witnessed in recent months to detail how society is “brainwashed” into unconscious racism.

Ahead of the Test series between England and the West Indies at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, Holding and Rainford-Brent took part in a feature that detailed their own experiences of racism.

World Cup-winner Rainford-Brent, the first female black player to play for England before her retirement at the start of the decade, revealed the everyday racial slurs that she received, which impacted how she developed her personality to brush and laugh off anything that was said to her in relation to being black.

Holding meanwhile said that he had not experienced as many instances of racism due to growing up in Jamaica, but did detail the story of how a swimming pool for white-only members was drained after a black man had jumped in it.

Following the feature, Holding joined presenter Ian Ward and former England captain Nasser Hussain to discuss what he had said alongside Rainford-Brent, and passionately explained how education over hundreds of years has always depicted white to be good and black to be bad.

“Education is important unless we just want to continue living the life we are living and continue us having demonstrations every now and again and having people say a few things,” Holding said.

“When I say education I mean going back in history. What people need to understand, and this thing stems from a long time ago – hundreds of years ago – dehumanising of the black race is where it started and people will tell you ‘that’s a long time, get over it’. No, you don’t get over things like that, and society has not gotten over something like that.

That lady in Central Park in New York – Amy Cooper I think is her name – if she did not have in her DNA a thought process that she was white, this man is black, if I call a police officer nine times out of 10 he’s going to be white and I’m going to be considered right immediately. The black guy will have to prove that he is not guilty and by the time that he proves he is not guilty he might be dead. She had that in her mind from day one, that’s why she said what she did.

“How do you get rid of that in society? By educating both sides, black and white. I hear people talking about brainwashing, I didn’t quite understand as a young man what brainwashing meant. I now understand what brainwashing means. We have been brainwashed, and not just black people, white people have been brainwashed in different ways. I go back many years, think about religion. You (Ward) and I are supposed to be Christians – I’m not really a very holy person, not a very religious person – but that’s what we were taught.

“Look at Jesus Christ, the image that they give of Jesus Christ: pale skin, blonde hair, blue eyes. Where Jesus came from, who in that part of the world looks that way? But again that’s brainwashing to show you this is what perfection is, this is what the image of perfection is. If you look at plays of those days, Judas who betrayed Jesus is a black man – again brainwashing people into thinking ‘oh he’s a black man, he is the bad man’.”

Holding went on to explain how the education process at schools does not teach black history, and used the invention of the light bulb as the prime example.

“Go through history Wardy, these lights that are shining on us. You can tell me who invented the lightbulb right: Thomas Edison. Everybody knows Thomas Edison invented the light bulb,” he explained.

“Thomas Edison 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 these lights shine throughout? Nobody knows because it was a black man, and it wasn’t taught in schools.

“Lewis Howard Latimer invented the carbon filament to allow a light to continue to shine. Who knows that?

“Everything should be taught. When you go back through schooling as a young man, I remember my school days and I was never taught anything good about black people, and you cannot have a society that is brought up like that – both white and black – and only teach what’s convenient to a teacher. History is written by the conqueror, not by those that are conquered. History is written by the people who do the harm, not by people 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’s 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 a white person is there to rob the store or not, they are not going to be thought of that way and things like that have to change.”

Ward turned to Hussain to ask whether he had experienced racism during his lifetime. Born to an Indian father and an English mother, Hussein revealed how he would be abused for his background during games while fielding close to fans, and though he did not want to compare it to what Holding and Rainford-Brent had suffered, the message still echoed a society where racial abuse is deemed acceptable.

“It would be stupid for me to say yes after what we’ve just heard, and after that very strong piece,” Hussain said. “Of course I have (suffered racism) with my surname growing up in south Essex, east London, with an Indian dad and an English mum.

“I probably get it a little bit from both sides fielding on a boundary all over the world and people saying ‘Oi Saddam, why don’t you **** off back to wherever you came from’.”

Premier League footballers have continued to take a knee during this week’s round of matches to show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, while on Sunday 14 of the 20 Formula One drivers and a number of team personnel took a knee before the Austrian Grand Prix.

As England’s series against the West Indies gets underway on Wednesday, both teams will take a knee for 30 seconds before play begins, and the message ‘Black Lives Matter’ will be written on the collar of their T-shirts as well as on badges for those in attendance at the Ageas Bowl who aren’t playing.

It has lead to many asking why protests are still happening at sporting events, to which Hussain responded that it was these people who show why the message still needs to be promoted.

“People will be tuning in and going ‘not this again, didn’t we do this with the football, didn’t we do this with the Grand Prix’,” Hussain said. “This is cricket, this is our game and we play with and against black cricketers, we commentate and work with black commentators that played the game and gave so much to the game.

“The history – we’re not talking cricket history – the proper history between these two nations that he (Holding) talks about makes this a much more poignant series to wear these badges. All I’ll say to these people who say ‘not again’ is I sat there six weeks ago, put Channel 4 news on and watched a black man be killed in front of my eyes, and my natural reaction as you should was to look away – ‘I can’t watch this’ – and look away.

“This is someone’s dad, someone’s brother, someone’s partner, someone’s son being killed in front of your eyes here, and the next time it came on because of the protests I forced myself to watch because I felt something inside me say ‘Nass you’ve been looking away for too long’. We’ve all been looking away for too long.

Society which we grow it’s almost like osmosis, it seeps into you and subconsciously it affects your mind

Michael Holding

“The players should be proud to wear these badges, we should be proud of wearing these badges. But really? In 2020 we have to wear a badge saying Black Lives Matter? Really? That should be a given Wardy. That’s my opinion.”

Holding finished the segment by detailing a study that was carried out at Yale University four years ago in the United States, which went a long way to explaining unconscious racism.

“I don’t want people to think that I think all white people who walk around are racist and think racist things,” Holding added. “I want to tell you about a study that they did at the Yale University.

“They got 130 pre-school teachers to go into a room and watch a video and they told the 130 pre-school teachers to look out for bad behaviour. There were black boys, white boys, black girls, white girls. At the end of the video, there was no bad behaviour in the video but they told them to look out for bad behaviour.

“They had some technology tracking the eyes of the teachers looking at the room. At the end of the video they gave the 130 teachers the results. You know where their eyes constantly looked? At the black kids. Black boys the majority, then the white boys, then black girls, then the white girls. Their eye tracking revealed that.

“When they revealed the result to the 130 teachers, 129 of them were embarrassed, so that shows that they were not thinking ‘I am racist, I’m looking at black’. They did not even know, they were unconscious. One person said they did not want the results released, so you know why that person did not want the results released? The 129 said ‘no, release the results, this is embarrassing and people outside must know what’s happening’.

“So we’re not telling people that they’re openly racist, it’s not something that everybody walks around and thinks whether I’m black I don’t like white people or I’m white and I don’t like black people. But in society which we grow it’s almost like osmosis, it seeps into you and subconsciously it affects your mind.”

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