Abhinav Mukund, veteran Tamil Nadu opening batsman, was the latest to voice his opinion on racial discrimination in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the USA.
Mukund shared a post on Instagram a couple of years ago, which read:
Dodda Ganesh, former Karnataka fast bowler who played 104 First Class matches, happened to share the post.
Mukund, who has 31 first class hundreds in a 145 match career so far, said, “I always endured racist remarks as a young cricketer growing up in a society obsessed with fairness. People used to say, ‘Ennada Karuthu poitta’ when I started playing. If you play in the sun, you will get tanned! Playing out in the sun is what I do for a living. I feel it is unfair for people to be obsessed with skin colour.”
Mukund, who has played 7 Test matches for India, narrated the incident which led him to share his views via that post. He said, It happened when Virat Kohli shared a picture of the team from the Sri Lankan High Commission dinner (during the 2017 Sri Lankan tour). A lot of people started talking about my skin colour in the comments and I felt strongly about it; so, I wrote that post. In this age of social media, people are obsessed with filters and body image. You can’t face-shame or body-shame anyone. You should accept people for who they are.”
He then went on to talk about the support that came his way. The Chennai born left hander said, “So many players stood by me and Virat showed it in his actions as well. He even stopped endorsing fairness creams after that. He was the face of a particular fairness cream brand earlier, but he hasn’t endorsed such products in the last four years.”
Mukund, who became the second Tamil Nadu Cricketer to cross 10,000 first class runs after Subramanium Badrinath this February, also celebrating his 100th Ranji Trophy match for Tamil Nadu with a 100, admitted that was the first time that he spoke about an issue that he felt so close to. “I have been called names when I was on the field, and some do that in jest. It has happened to a lot of cricketers on the field. Even recently, a fan racially abused Jofra Archer in New Zealand. But after this post, some of my closest friends told me they felt scared to call me names and that, for me, was a big win,” he said.
Mukund emphasised on the fact that the mindset of the society needs to change. “People have been tweeting about #BlackLivesMatter, but for me, #AllLivesMatter. As humans, it’s important for people to understand that no matter what you do, how you look, what background you come from, we are all equal. There is no right time to speak up. You might go your entire lifetime not speaking about it, but if it happens to you and if you feel comfortable speaking up, you should, and that’s why I did,” he concluded.