Cheikh Mboj

Racism isn’t something we are born with

“Surely this should be a time when humanity displays the best of itself?”

RACISM is a complex subject to talk about, its history is long and tragic. Today, we see a lot more incidents of racism, because social media has allowed us to access real-time information.

Growing up in Senegal, I had never experienced it until I left home, to study and play basketball in the United States of America. That’s when I started to deal with the real world outside of my comfort zone and meeting people from diverse backgrounds. Until then, it was just something I rarely heard about.

I cannot fathom how in the 21st century, racism still prevails. It’s Unbelievable. But I got served plenty of times.

As an African athlete, at school, the professional world, I have dealt with both racism and xenophobia, on and off the court. Based on my morals and the way I was raised, racism has always been the hardest to accept because of history and what happened to my ancestors.
I am a Muslim, Islam is my religion, and it promotes peace. So, I live by the teachings of our beloved prophet Muhammad.

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Cheikh Tidiane Mboj got a better understanding of racism once he left Senegal. Pictures: Supplied

We believe that no one can claim any superiority over the other based on race, colour, language or wealth.

But my experience during college days as a student-athlete in America and currently as a professional ball player, have taught me different. I’ve been called a monkey, the N-word, I’ve heard many racist slurs by fans, just because of the colour of my skin and being a black African Muslim. It has always been challenging to swallow my pride and anger… To not retaliate, because retaliation to hatred is not the answer. I thank God for my faith, the way my parents raised me, to get through many obstacles in life. I’ve always held myself accountable from a young age because I left home early by myself.

Racism is as real as it gets and the reality of the situation got me to cope with it quickly, because nobody would feel sorry for me. My love for the game of basketball has always been stronger than the hatred I’ve dealt with, so I’m thankful for having what I love as my profession and hobby at the same time. It always kept me emotionally and mentally busy.

Racism isn’t something we are born with. It’s something that’s taught. People choose how they want to educate their children, good or bad.

With the current pandemic ravaging humanity, it seems racism has taken the lead in the global agenda. Surely this should be a time when humanity displays the best of itself? But current events show we still have a long way to go.

As a basketball player, I strongly believe sports can help bring change to the situation. We, as athletes have to use our various platforms to contribute to breaking the cycle of racism for good.

Nelson Mandela said it well by a quote which I highly appreciate: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair”. It is an inspiring code that all of us as sports lovers can adopt and live by.

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Cheikh Tidiane Mboj has experienced racism at various levels of his playing career.

Basketball has taken me to many places and despite the hatred from some, I can always feel an overpowering love from many others. That love makes my appreciation for the game even stronger. It’s a positive thing for me.

We must learn how to coexist to end racism. We need to learn from history. Learning about each other’s cultures, customs, and principles is the key.

This can help promote not only love and respect for one another but also how we treat each as equals. The colours of our skins may look different and we may experience discrimination and oppression simply based on this. However, we all belong to the human race and are from the same ancestors, Adam and Eve. We are all created by God. Therefore, let’s learn how to love, not hate.

May Allah brings us all together and erase racism once and for all.

Much love and respect to all. ✊?✊?✊?✊?✊?✊

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