THE south Asian diaspora in the UK often becomes the victim of “casual racism”, but that can’t be compared to what the black community has to endure in everyday life, feels Monty Panesar.
Calling for a mindset change, the former England spinner said authorities should initiate a five-year plan to eradicate racial profiling of black people.
“If someone is driving a fancy car here with tinted windows and he happens to black, he is six times more likely to be stopped by the police than others,” Panesar, who took 167 wickets in 50 Tests, told PTI on Tuesday (14).
“So, the fear of the cops is in the everyday life of the black community here.
“That is what my black friends tell me. They go to a supermarket store, the general mindset is that he could be here for shoplifting. If I keep something in my pocket, there won’t be added attention but they go through constant tension of being ‘caught’ even though they have not done anything.”
Like many in the cricketing community, the 38-year-old said he was moved by Michael Holding’s stirring speech against racism on day one of the first Test at Southampton, adding that the West Indies legend “hit the nail on the head”.
“There should be a five-year plan for accelerated change,” said Panesar, whose parents migrated to England from India in the 1970s.
“If no changes are made after giving speeches, then there is no point. The speech that Michael Holding gave, I have not seen anyone else delivering a message so powerfully like he did.”
In his speech, Holding had said: “Education is important unless we want to continue living the life that we are living and want to continue having demonstrations every now and again and a few people saying a few things.
“When I say education, I mean going back in history. What people need to understand is that thing stems from a long time ago, hundreds of years ago.
“The dehumanisation of the black race is where it started.
“People will tell you ‘that’s a long time ago, get over it’.
“No, you don’t get over things like that and society has not gotten over something like that.
“How do you get rid of that in society? By educating both sides — black and white.”
Panesar stressed that there was an urgent need to provide better education to more members of the black community, and promote them “to have the white collar jobs like others”.
“The south Asian community also faces casual racism but nothing like what the black community faces on a daily basis,” he added.
“Subconsciously we are so prejudiced against the black community that we don’t realise it, we don’t accept it. We need to get it out of our system.”
He also highlighted that the Sikh community had been doing social work for decades, “spreading the message of love, and that people have appreciated and they love us back”.
Panesar, who played for England from 2006 to 2013, said he was never racially discriminated during his time with the national team.
“I did not face it to be honest,” he said, quipping that he was more worried about doing his “job properly so that that I don’t get an earful from the captain”.
“If you are in a team, naturally you would have more things in common with the members of your community,” the spinner said. “But you must make the effort of mingling with all your teammates. It is very important in a team environment.”