Michael Holding has urged Yorkshire not to shun the 16 staff who have left the county in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.
Holding has won the prestigious William Hill Sports Book Of The Year award for “Why We Kneel, How We Rise”, his treatise on the causes of racism and how to fight prejudice.
The former West Indies pace bowler will continue lobbying for change to school curriculums, to broaden horizons and attitudes especially concerning history.
But the 67-year-old respected cricket commentator has also called for an end to toxicity in any discrimination debate.
Director of cricket Martyn Moxon and head coach Andrew Gale were among 16 staff to leave Yorkshire last week, in the latest fallout from ex-player Rafiq uncovering racial abuse at the county.
“I would hope that no one just gets cut off,” Holding told the PA news agency.
“They will look at themselves and say ‘hey, maybe I went wrong somewhere along the line, let me see where I can help myself’.
“And of course the organisation that they worked for before should also be willing to reach out to them to help them.
“They may be so bitter that they don’t want anything to do with the organisation, who knows? But the organisation should not just turn its back on these people.
“They are human beings, they have families, and they should get the help that they need, so that we can move on. This isn’t just a Yorkshire problem. I’m not surprised by what Azeem Rafiq has said.
“I have heard many stories like that for donkeys years, since I was a young man.
“I’m surprised that he has actually now come out and made it public. Because a lot of people have suffered in silence.
“I’m glad he has done what he has done, he has been very brave to come out and talk about it. And I think it will make a huge change.
“I don’t know what the people who have left Yorkshire have done or said. But 16 people, that seems huge to me.
“Sometimes you have to totally destroy a building and rebuild it. And perhaps that’s what needs to happen now.
“I get the impression the entire racism debate is heading towards being a little bit toxic. We don’t need the toxicity. We don’t need people to be pariahs, we need a coming together.
“Action must be taken, but it should be taken against people who have perpetuated this over a long period of time.
“If someone makes one mistake, you don’t fall like a ton of bricks on that person. We should be a lot more open-minded and forgiving, and bring people into the fold.”
Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire have shaken cricket to its core, with the 30-year-old’s evidence to a parliamentary committee leading to a widespread shake-up at the county.
Former Yorkshire and England captain Michael Vaughan continues to deny allegations against him from Rafiq, but has been stood down from Ashes commentary.
Again urging restraint in reaction, Holding insisted individuals must not be demonised should they be found to have made solitary mistakes.
“What he has been accused of is something that is meant to have taken place 10 or more years ago,” said Holding.
“Can we look at Michael Vaughan and his record since then, and say this is something he has perpetually done? An action or behaviour he has done over the last decade? I don’t know.
“If that is not the case, why should he pay such a huge price for something he did 10 or 11 years ago? Surely you take action depending on what investigations uncover.
“Everyone will make mistakes but everyone also deserves the opportunity to correct those mistakes.”
Holding’s impactful book challenges outdated western teachings, especially in history, with the author determined to see alterations as a result.
“The point I’m trying to make in this book is that we have been educated totally wrongly,” said Holding.
“That is why people have formed certain impressions in their heads about people without even knowing them, without even knowing anything about them, just because of the colour of their skin.
“People have ideas in their heads just because of what they have been told or how they have been socialised, what their society has taught them, without them even recognising exactly what they are learning.
“It was how the world was structured. Race has only come into play in the last 500 years and for one sole purpose: one set of people needed a hierarchical system, which would allow them to subjugate another set of people, to enrich themselves.
“So people just grow up in a society seeing certain things, expecting certain things, and taking it for the norm.
“What I’m trying to do is educate people as to the true history of mankind, not the history that one set of people would like us to believe.
“If you believe what one set of people have been teaching, then only people from Europe, only white folks have done anything great.
“They have hidden everything that people of colour have ever done, all the discoveries, all the innovations, all the inventions, they don’t teach them – because that doesn’t suit the narrative of white superiority.
“And until we can teach all of history, so that everyone can recognise that all different people have done great things, men, women, Christians, Muslims, we’re going to struggle.”
:: Michael Holding’s “Why We Kneel, How We Rise” won the 33rd annual William Hill Sports Book Award last Thursday against strong competition from five other shortlisted books.
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