Faf du Plessis on racism in South African cricket: 'All lives don't matter until black lives matter'

Pretorius, van der Dussen, Kapp and Nortje also express their support for BLM movement

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Getty Images

Getty Images

Faf du Plessis, South Africa's Test and T20I captain until February this year, has admitted to having "got it wrong before" as he, alongside Dwaine Pretorius, Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje and Marizanne Kapp, became the first members of the white Afrikaans cricket community in South Africa to publicly voice their support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, joining Lungi Ngidi and 32 former players and five current coaches of colour.
"In the last couple of months I have realized that we must choose our battles," du Plessis, who along with Pretorius has indicated he will take a knee during the 3TC exhibition game on July 18, wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. "We are surrounded by many injustices in our country that require urgent attention and action to fix them. If we wait only for the ones that attack us personally, we will always live for 'my way vs your way' and that way leads us nowhere.
"So I've remained silent, with the intent to listen, but not respond. Slowing down my point of view, but quicker to hear the pain of someone else. I knew that words would be lacking and that my understanding is not close to where it needs to be.
I acknowledge that South Africa is still hugely divided by racism and it is my personal responsibility to do my best to emphasize, hear the stories, learn and then be part of the solution with my thoughts, words and actions
Faf du Plessis
"I surrender my opinions and take the knee as an intercessor. I acknowledge that South Africa is still hugely divided by racism and it is my personal responsibility to do my best to emphasize, hear the stories, learn and then be part of the solution with my thoughts, words and actions."
Du Plessis acknowledged that his comment earlier this year, in which he had said the team did not see colour - when talking about Temba Bavuma being dropped from the Test team - was naïve. "I have gotten it wrong before. Good intentions were failed by a lack of perspective when I said on a platform that - I don't see colour," he said. "In my ignorance I silenced the struggles of others by placing my own view on it.
"A race problem is a human race problem, if one part of the body hurts ,we all stop, we empathize, we get perspective, we learn and then we tend to the hurting part of the body. So I am saying that all lives don't matter UNTIL black lives matter. I'm speaking up now, because if I wait to be perfect, I never will. I want to leave a legacy of empathy. The work needs to continue for the change to come and whether we agree or disagree, conversation is the vehicle for change."
Pretorius, who was talked out of a Kolpak deal to play for South Africa late last year, also said he would get behind the BLM movement as a way to start taking steps against racism. "I will be proudly supporting the BLM movement and I will be taking a knee on Saturday. I honestly and wholeheartedly believe it's the right thing to do. I also believe taking the knee is only the start," he posted on Facebook.
"To me the BLM movement stands for the most basic right all people across the world deserve and that is the right to not be judged or segmented because of his/her colour. But rather for WHO they are. It's not a movement that says: Black lives are MORE important than any other colour. It's my brother from another mother asking me please see me for WHO I am and don't persecute me because of my skin colour. Give me the same benefit of the doubt you would given someone with the same colour as you. Yes,the movement says 'Black' but I believe it's relevant to any color and race. As a person and a Christian, I believe it's my responsibility to strive, to treat every person I come across with the same respect and not judge them. We are all equal and loved the same way by God. There are no exceptions.
"I would love to see my boy one day live in a world where colour has no judgement. It's time to be the change you would like to see in the world. Talk is cheap and action is more powerful. The knee for me means it's time to take action. #blacklivesmatter."
Whether van der Dussen will join the pair is not yet known but he was the first white South African cricketer to show his support when he replied to a tweet by journalist Max du Preez. In Afrikaans, van der Dussen said that he supported BLM and rejected the notion that standing with the movement indicated support for violence.
It has been a fractious fortnight, which started when Ngidi indicated he would be in favour of his team-mates "making a stand" like many others around the world since the BLM movement picked up steam.
Ngidi faced a backlash from four former players - Rudi Steyn, Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar and Brian McMillan - who called on South African cricketers to also acknowledge murders of predominantly white farmers around the county. But Ngidi has since received a swell of support. His stance, along with Michael Holding and Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent's moving documentary aired on Sky Sports before the first Test between England and West Indies, also prompted several players to speak out about issues of racial discrimination. That culminated in a statement from 31 former players, including Makhaya Ntini, Vernon Philander, JP Duminy and Ashwell Prince, and five coaches. Hashim Amla issued an independent statement on Instagram the following day.
CSA has since sent out two statements expressing its commitment to being part of the BLM campaign, with the board's director of cricket Graeme Smith, saying last week that the players were mulling a fresh means of showing support during the 3TC event that may not include the BLM logo on shirts, because the kits had already been printed.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent