Michael Holding: 'This is something I’ve had inside of me for years'Breaking News
tags: racism, British history, sports, cricket, West Indian history
Twenty minutes into our interview, Michael Holding starts to cry. He is in the middle of a story about a holiday he took with his mother when he was a little boy. His mother’s skin was brown, his father’s was black. Her family had objected to that and cut her off when she married. “We went on a trip to New York and we were staying with one of our aunts in Rochester. We were upstairs and she got up in the morning and looked through the window and she saw a black girl and a white girl playing together in another backyard, having great fun, and she pointed them out to me and she said: ‘Look at that, we have hope.’ That was 50 years ago.”
Holding turns away from the screen and puts his fingers to the bridge of his nose. “I’m sorry. I’m getting emotional thinking about it now.”
The 66-year-old Holding says he is “a very private person”, but he has laid himself bare this year.
In July, he opened Sky’s coverage of England’s Test series against West Indies with a powerful monologue about the Black Lives Matter movement. The next day he broke down on Sky News while talking about his own experiences of racism. The clips went viral. They reached an audience who had no interest in cricket, no idea who he was.
He has become a patron of the MCC Foundation, but he is not really interested in talking about sport. His thoughts are bigger than that. “I know people keep on talking about what’s going on in different games. I don’t concentrate too much on that. I think more about society. Because it’s society that needs fixing, not the individual sports. If society never changes it doesn’t matter what sport does. All sport can do is help show the way, it can’t solve the problem.”
Holding believes the answer is in educating people. Including the prime minister. “I heard Boris Johnson say you can’t edit history. Well history has already been edited. What we need is the real history, the entire history, what we have is the edited history, and it was edited to suit one race.”
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