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A ‘gentleman’s game’

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A glaring sense of irony shrouded the cricketing world when the news of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) racism scandal coincided with the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to raise awareness about racism by making it mandatory for players to take the knee before every T20 World Cup match.

It was widely thought that racism in sport, particularly in the UK, was mainly associated with football. We have heard stories of monkey chants during football matches and persistent online abuse of Black footballers, but have hardly heard of racist remarks in cricket on or off the field.

Well, we were all wrong and the YCCC racism saga exposed it.

Pakistani born Azeem Rafiq played for YCCC between 2008 and 2018. Rafiq spoke out about facing institutional racism at the YCCC in September 2020 during an interview with ESPN cricinfo. Following that allegation, the YCCC launched an investigation into their policies and culture. They appointed the law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, to carry out an independent investigation last autumn.

The firm gave its findings to the YCCC in August 2021, but the club did not release the report or disclose is findings to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) which governs the England cricket team. At that time, the YCCC only admitted Rafiq was a victim of inappropriate behaviour and offered him an apology.

However, YCCC was forced to release the report summary on 10th September after continuing pressure from MPs. Attempts were made to try and lessen the fallout by releasing it at the same time as the news of the postponement of test match between England and India due to a Covid outbreak in the Indian camp.

The club’s summary of the report denied any institutional racism in the club but admitted Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment and bullying. They sent an edited copy to Azeem Rafiq despite a court order to send a full report. The YCCC also announced on 28th October that no one would face disciplinary action. Since then, ESPN has published another story where the YCCC investigation concluded that although “the ‘P’ word was used frequently”, it was used as part of “friendly and good-natured banter” which caused outcry. 

The events of the last couple of months has led to the YCCC Chairman Roger Hutton resigning, and being replaced by Lord Kamlesh Patel. Hutton has since come forward to apologise to Azeem Rafiq. However, the revelation of racism in the club, its subsequent cover-up and the public response, led to the club’s sponsors, such as Nike, Emerald Publishing, Harrogate Water, Anchor Butter, Yorkshire Tea, David Lloyds Club and Tetley Beer cutting ties with the club; thus bringing the club’s finances into dire strait. 

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the Parliament asked the relevant parties to give their testimony on 16th November 2021. Azeem Rafiq, Ex-chairman Roger Hutton and ECB official attended the hearing. The main points from Rafiq’s statement to the committee are as follows.

Players used racist language, including the “P” term without being challenged, and in Rafiq’s opinion, such words were racist and not “banter”. He felt isolated and humiliated. Rafiq told the committee that things got even worse when he joined the club again in 2016. Especially when Gary Ballance became captain, and Andrew Gale replaced Jason Gillespie as head coach. Rafiq also described an incident at a different club, where a fellow team member pinned him down and poured wine down this mouth when he was only fifteen. He said he started drinking in 2012 so that he could fit in the club.

YCCC former chairman Roger Hutton also gave evidence. According to him, Martyn Moxon and former chief executive Mark Arthur “failed to accept the gravity” of the Rafiq situation. Mr Hutton also told the committee that Mark Arthur asked him to abandon the racism investigation.

Surprisingly no YCCC official or key witnesses like Martyn Moxon, Mark Arthur, Andrew Gale and Garry Ballance agree to speak to the committee

Observing the YCCC racism saga unfolding, it seems there is evidence of institutional racism in the club. The club gave Garry Ballance a three year contract, despite the investigation finding his use of racist remarks towards Rafiq. Although we don’t have the full text of the report; the way management made every effort to brush it under the carpet and hid part of the report suggest deep-rooted racism in the cricket club, and they failed to rein it in. If it weren’t for the bravery of Rafiq and journalist George Dobell of ESPN, who persisted with the story, the matter wouldn’t have gotten the public attention it needed to bring about change. If a world-renowned cricket club with 158 years of history has racism embedded in it, then it’s not unreasonable to assume that cricket itself has a racism problem while authorities have long ignored it. The time has come for the English and Wales Cricket Board to lead in taking concrete steps to root out racism from the game.

The problem of racism in cricket is not confined to the players and management, nor does it have geographical boundaries. It exists within the fans and supporters and is apparent in all parts of the world. Recent examples are Muhammad Shami and Hassan Ali of Pakistan. When India lost to Pakistan in the T20 World Cup, Muhammad Shami was made a scapegoat by the Indian fans declaring him a traitor and telling him to leave India due to his religion. Pakistan fans made similar threats to Hassan Ali when they lost to Australia in the semi-final, profiling him as a Shia due to his name and his wife’s Indian origin.

We’d like to think that taking the knee before a match wouldn’t be just a theatrical gesture. It’s about time that the ICC and all the cricketing boards will install policies to eradicate discrimination based on race and religion and develop a culture of inclusiveness.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Education

How to achieve a healthy ‘Play Diet’? – In Focus

Playing is an important part of being a child, but play has changed over the years. We have seen China put restrictions in place to limit the amount of time children spend playing games including on screens. Parents today struggle with their children who constantly seem to be on their devices and in front of screens day and night playing online. Outdoor play almost seems to be lost and forgotten about, but it is a key part of the ‘Play Diet’

Join us as we speak to Dr. Amanda Gummer, founder of the Good Play Guide (goodplayguide.com) who shares her research and insight to help bring ‘In Focus’ the importance of play, its role in the development for the next generation and how we achieve a good balance in our ‘play diet’

Discover more at https://analystnews.com

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Eight dead and hundreds injured in Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival

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Rapper and producer, Travis Scott organised the Astroworld Festival that caused eight deaths and hundreds of injuries. The event was held in Houston, Texas, on Friday 5th November and was attended by approximately 50,000 people.

A crowd surge towards the stage at the start of Scott’s performance led to panic and fans being trampled. It is also reported that an attendee was injecting drugs into members of the audience including a security guard. The youngest victim was 14-year-old John Hilgert who was trampled to death. 

Video footage shows two of the concert guests climbing onto an elevated platform with a cameraman and trying to get his attention only to be told to move away so he could continue filming. One can be heard shouting “There is somebody dead in there!” While the other shouted “Stop the show!” One of the two attendees wrote an eyewitness account that circulated through social media where she described everything that was going on around her, from the crowd surge, to climbing onto the platform to get help: 

On Saturday night, Travis Scott issued a statement on his Instagram story, stating he was “devastated” and that he didn’t know how severe the situation was while he was performing. Many are questioning this as video footage shows Scott pausing during his show when he saw an ambulance in the crowd and then continuing his performance. 

Prior to this incident, Travis Scott had pled guilty to public disorder charges at concerts in 2015 and 2018. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Education

Theatre of the Absurd – an unconventional way to mirror modern man’s absurdity

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Broken values, fragmented relationships, worthless ambitions, vanishing values, destruction, disillusionment, boredom, economic crisis, inefficacy of words – these are but a few traits of the social, political and psychological context which gave birth to the Theatre of the Absurd. I first came across Absurd plays when I was writing my thesis for a Master’s degree in English Literature. I was astonished by the way human folly and nonsense was projected through the technique of anti-language and anti-plot. The conventional use of a well-organised plot, carefully selected words and sentences and elaborate description of characters was nowhere to be found in an Absurd play. The plays took place in one or no setting, thinking about random thoughts which had no particular meaning or significance, but yet, the theme of existentialism, absurdity, trauma and human incapacity to control their affairs was revealed in a harrowing way which seemed to leave the audience and the readers wonder about the meaninglessness of human life and affairs and draw their own conclusions. 

The history of the Theatre of the Absurd dates back to 1960s. Coined and first theorized by BBC Radio drama critic Martin Esslin in a 1960 article and a 1961 book of the same name, the “Theatre of the Absurd” is a literary and theatrical term used to describe a disparate group of avant-garde plays by a number of mostly European or American avant-garde playwrights whose theatrical careers, generally, began after the WWII in the 1950s and 1960s. Of the playwrights and writers associated with this movement that has not been self-proclaimed, four were awarded Nobel Prizes in Literature: Samuel Becket, Harold Pinter, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre (who refused the award). Disillusioned by scientific, social and political advancements, these playwrights declared, “cut off from his religious, metaphysical and transcendental roots, man is lost, all his actions become senseless, absurd, useless.” Some proclaimed “god is dead.” Others believed, “man wants to live, but it is useless to hope that this desire will dictate all his actions.” The Absurdist playwrights believed that conventional way of writing plays was too unsuitable to reveal the harrowing state of mind of modern man – they chose their own writing style.

Themes of human incapacity and uselessness of life is conveyed through nonsense dialogues and insignificant plot and structure. The absurdist playwrights give artistic expression to Albert Camus’ existential philosophy, as illustrated in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, that life is inherently meaningless. The Myth of Sisyphus is the forerunner of the theatre of the absurd. Sisyphus, punished by the gods, must roll a huge rock up a hill, and once he reaches the summit, he must throw it down and start all over again. Sisyphus forever rolls a stone up a hill and is forever aware that it will never reach the top – absurd ambitions and no resolution of the problem. Most of the Absurd plays express a sense of wonder, incomprehension, and at times despair at the meaninglessness of human existence. Since, they do not believe in a rational and well-meaning universe, they do not see any possibility of resolution of the problems they present, either. 

Rhinoceros is an absurdist play by Eugene Ionesco that highlights human folly – it shows the impact of mass cultural movements on common people and portrays the trend of mob mentality. In the play, the inhabitants of a small French town slowly convert into rhinos. The main character, Berenger, sees his friends turn into rhinos and promises not to become one of them. By the end of the play, Berenger and the woman he adores, Daisy, are the only remaining humans. By the end of the play, even she is influenced by the rhinoceroses and leaves Berenger to be with them. Berenger is left alone. Although he starts to dislike his human face, he continues to deny giving in to the desire to be a rhino.

Frequent themes in the Theatre of the Absurd are fear of confinement, concept of time and inescapability. In Ping-Pong by Arthur Adamov, two characters are stuck inside a pinball machine with no way out. The machine controls everything they do. They talk about their fascination with the machine and the game itself. The pinball machine represents life, where balls represent opportunities, and the player only has limited control on whether or not they succeed as everything depends on chance.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett revolves around two characters placed in one setting where they engage in senseless arguments while waiting for their imaginary protector, Godot, who never arrives. One of the most important aspects of absurd drama is its distrust of language as a means of communication.  Language is nothing more than a vehicle for conventionalized, stereotyped, meaningless exchanges. In Waiting for Godot, the characters engage in meaningless dialogues, for example, the usual talk by the main characters goes like this: 

VLADIMIR
He didn’t say for sure he’d come.
ESTRAGON
And if he doesn’t come?
VLADIMIR
We’ll come back tomorrow.
ESTRAGON
And then the day after tomorrow.
VLADIMIR
Possibly.
ESTRAGON
And so on.
VLADIMIR
The point is—
ESTRAGON
Until he comes.
VLADIMIR
You’re merciless.
ESTRAGON
We came here yesterday.
VLADIMIR
Ah no, there you’re mistaken. 

These apparently nonsense words and worthless settings seem to convey ineffable meanings and leave the readers and audience in a state of awe and wonder with a lot to chew and reflect on. To me, the most fascinating thing about these plays and the themes and ideas they convey is their relevance to modern times: we can still see humans stuck in a pinball machine trying to evade the torture of time; we can see humans running in a race towards a mass culture where everyone seems ready to change their identity and become a rhino; we can find numerous humans waiting for good times, waiting for their own Godots and waiting for a fortune which never strikes or comes; there seems to be numerous examples of identity crisis, psychological trauma, disillusionment with world order and a growing trend towards nihilism.

The Theatre of the Absurd, in a sense, attempts to re-establish man’s communion with the universe and hopes to achieve this by shocking man out of an existence that has become trite, mechanical and complacent. It is felt that there is mystical experience in confronting the limits of human condition which seems to shake, if not wake, the dormant human spirit enveloped by materialistic pursuits.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Has social media taken over the role of journalism?

Researching into the authenticity of news became more demanding and critical if one wished to maintain credibility in storytelling

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During the early stages of print journalism shifting towards digital media, observers may never have predicted that the internet would eventually become a primary source of news consumption in the coming time. 

Social media has drastically changed the role of journalism as we speak, forcing journalists to adapt their work to suit today’s digital audience. These shifts are fundamentally rooted in how journalists collect newsworthy information and then present them in their stories, hence, leaving journalism with the options to either perish or to adapt.

Bevelyn Dube, professor and research specialist in Journalism and media studies, explains in Challenges for Journalism and Education that; “journalism is evaluating information before disseminating it to the public.” She says, “this sifting of information ensures audiences receive quality news to help make informed political decisions”. This means all journalism we consume plays an integral role in how we react and speak up on various issues. 

By the early 1990s, a vast selection of online news websites were readily available and continuously multiplying. In fact, by the 2000s, digital media had advanced so much that e-magazines, electronic journals, and virtually-streamed live events became the new norm of life. 

However, keeping up with these developments was challenging, particularly for those still familiarising themselves with the internet. In some ways, wanting to keep up meant compromising on the content published. Dube explains in a case study how “it’s about investment in technology now, rather than analysis,” where the aim is to outdo your competitors in breaking news live to audiences. Where journalism was perceived as reporting, “that which has happened”, it is now reporting “that which is happening.” 

Today, as most readers prefer to use Twitter, Facebook, and news apps for quick reads on topical issues, it is becoming increasingly hard to remain relevant and interesting. Sorting fake information from fact has become one of the most challenging experiences, as social media increasingly takes over. 

When Twitter was introduced in 2006 for microblogging and networking, many journalists thought the app would be a disaster, by becoming an online dumpster for spreading false information. Surprisingly, as its audience grew, the view of their journalist counterpart also started to change, as they soon realised that Twitter could be a helpful tool for research. As a matter of fact, “Twitter [gave] print journalists a chance to beat TV news cameras to breaking news”.

However, while this new platform meant that news began spreading like wildfire, thus, making it easier to retrieve information, it became increasingly crucial to run thorough background checks before it could be picked up as a story. 

Researching into the authenticity of news became more demanding and critical if one wished to maintain credibility in storytelling. Like reporters and news editors, photojournalists were also alarmed, “about altered images [online] getting passed off as documentary photography.” 

Moreover, journalists also started picking up issues they hadn’t seen before. Some described it to have fuelled the flood of propaganda masquerading as news. [Amplifying] the political discourse, sometimes in very ugly ways.” 

A story’s success became dependent on hashtag counts & trends. An unsuccessful story could quickly be buried under similar posts, and not to mention the race for influence and followers everyone became distracted by. 

Robinson Meyer writing for The Atlantic magazine, says, “On Twitter, ideas are so commodified that to say something is simultaneously to amplify it. You’re never just saying on Twitter.” 

This idea, to me personally, is rather interesting. Today, looking towards the humanitarian crisis in Palestine, the voices of journalists have helped in successfully bringing this issue to light. Where a handful of prestigious news organisations have chosen to remain objective in their judgment and portrayal of the crisis, others have decided to step forward in solidarity with the people of Palestine. 

However, this has only been possible within such a short period of time due to social media. While journalists can voice their opinions to followers on Twitter and Instagram, it is up to the audience, to enable the content to go viral by liking, sharing, and commenting. 

Nevertheless, journalism is nothing without an audience. With the growing dependency, that the readers have on the internet, journalists are compelled to modify storytelling techniques to keep their passion for journalism alive. As a journalism student myself, I firmly believe that journalism can never fall out of ‘trend’ or ‘use.’ As I know it, it is instead ever-growing in the things we read, see, and hear. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Disney and its Racist Past

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Very few can deny that Disney films played some part in their childhoods. Colourful characters and memorable songs make them fun to watch, while the masterful storytelling also manages to explore some interesting themes. However, beneath all the success and cheerfulness, Disney’s own story is somewhat less rosy with many films plagued with racism.

Understandably, most of the earlier movies, made during the era of the Jim Crow Laws, reflected the racism commonplace in America at that time. In Dumbo, which was released in 1941, the pack of crows speak to each other in a way that caricaturises African American people, and the leader is even called Jim Crow. Then, a few years later, Disney’s Song of the South tells of how an older black man befriends a young white boy on a plantation. This intentionally glamourised the lives of black slaves, as acknowledging their real working conditions may have caused some of the white audience to question slavery. Remarkably, the actor playing the main character couldn’t even attend the movie premiere in Atlanta due to the segregation rules there.

It wasn’t just African Americans who were victims of offensive material. In the 1953 film, Peter Pan, Native Americans are stereotypically depicted as heavy pipe smokers who converse in gibberish – a reflection of the ignorant filmmakers, who didn’t care to research their indigenous language. Two years later, in Lady and the Tramp, East Asian people are made a mockery of through the Siamese cats, who have slanted eyes, strange accents and who bizarrely play the piano with chopsticks. And don’t forget Pedro the Mexican chihuahua and Boris the Russian Borzoi.

However, when these films were released, people weren’t having the same conversations about racism that we have today. On this account, maybe some of the unpleasant things we see could be excused. Walt Disney himself was said to hold some questionable views, reportedly attending meetings with the pro-Nazi German American Bund during the 1930s. 

However, surely racist remarks made in newer films are more disappointing. The 1990s especially seemed to be somewhat of a melting pot for tone-deaf portrayals.  For instance, the original Aladdin’s opening song contains the lyrics “Where they cut off your ear, if they don’t like your face / It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.” The Arab lands are clearly being depicted as some kind of savage civilisation. Moreover, why does the hero have to be clean-shaven, speak in a crisp American accent and have lighter skin than the villain? One of the saddest parts is that Disney didn’t learn from their earlier Native-Americans-speaking-gibberish-to-each-other gaffe in Peter Pan, as a lot of the Arabic shown on screen is random scribble.   

1995’s Pocahontas is not much of an improvement, with one of its songs, “Savages”, drawing on the idea of Native Americans being less human. Furthermore, the film glosses over the genocide of indigenous people and crimes committed by the colonisers. Instead, the focus is on an unrealistic relationship between the two characters. In reality, the actual Pocahontas was probably married off to a much older man and displayed as some kind of trophy, whilst her relatives were killed, and their culture was destroyed. 

Sometimes, the racist jibes come across as very naïve and embarrassing. For example, in 1998’s Mulan, the titular character gets hurt and reports to a medical tent, which has a Japanese flag engraved onto it, despite the film being set in China.

More recently, though, Disney has made an effort to be more representative, and the casting of a young African American to play Ariel in the new The Little Mermaid film is one sign of this. Actually, Disney’s first black lead was Princess Tiana back in 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, showing that African Americans can be just as much of a hero as anyone else. Disney worked closely with the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People to make sure the film’s black characters were portrayed in a realistic light. 

2016’s Moana has a Polynesian lead, and its directors sought the help of Pacific Islanders to ensure that the film could be as accurate as possible. In the recent Aladdin reboot, Mena Massoud, an Arab American, plays the main character. This was definitely a step in the right direction, as the original movie was demeaning to Arab people as it had a white actor to voice Aladdin.

Ultimately, anyone can look back and criticise the times when Disney has offended different people in its films. But it has also sought to rectify some of these mistakes. Many films now have warnings before you stream them on Disney+, and movies deemed too offensive, such as Song of the South, have been pulled completely. Contemporary Disney casts are now so much more ethnically diverse and inclusive. Hopefully, this progress will usher in an era of truly representative filmmaking.


Sources

Laemle, Jessica. Trapped in the Mouse House: How Disney has portrayed racism and sexism in its princess films. The Cupola (2018)

May, Brianna. Beyond the prince: Race and gender portrayal in Disney princess films. Saint Mary’s College, IN (2011)

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/nov/19/song-of-the-south-the-difficult-legacy-of-disneys-most-shocking-movie

https://www.themarysue.com/revisiting-pocahontas/

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/problem-aladdin

https://bestlifeonline.com/disney-movies-racist/

https://whatculture.com/film/10-examples-of-how-progressive-disney-has-become?page=11

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-54566087

https://www.biography.com/news/walt-disney-biography-facts-video

https://www.insider.com/moments-themes-in-disney-movies-that-havent-aged-well-problematic#many-of-disneys-lead-characters-of-color-are-transformed-into-animals-for-the-majority-of-their-stories-16

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

I'm currently an undergraduate at Oxford University. When I'm not dealing with essays and deadlines, I enjoy playing sports, seeing mates and scrolling through Twitter!

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