England and West Indies players 'took a knee' in support of the cause during the Test series last year. South Africa raised their right fists ahead of their Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka in Centurion.
Taking a knee to support social equality has become a symbolic gesture in sports over the last year. The BLM movement gained precedence following the death of an African-American man, George Floyd, in May 2020. Video of a police officer pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck went viral on social media, causing massive uproar globally.
Speaking ahead of the first Test against West Indies on Thursday in Gros Islet, Dean Elgar said that players could take a call on supporting the movement for social justice on an individual basis. He said in this regard at a virtual press conference:
"It's been quite a journey for our side with regards to this topic. We've given the players the right to perform whichever act or gesture they want to perform. So if players are comfortable with taking the knee, they may. If a player wants to use the previous gesture we had - raising the right fist - they're also entitled to do that.”
For players who aren’t comfortable with either gesture, Elgar added:
“And if players aren't comfortable just yet, they've got to stand to attention, so we can still respect the campaign that's rolling out."
We've come to West Indies to respect the BLM campaign: Dean Elgar
The 33-year-old Dean Elgar, who will be key to South Africa’s fortunes with the bat, revealed that he has had talks with West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite over the matter. Dean Elgar elaborated in this regard:
"We've come to West Indies to respect their campaign. We've also come to West Indies on the back of a lot of long chats in our squad, and it's maybe taken a year to reach this point. We feel every player has a right - they've got a sense of belonging within this team - and we've come to the Caribbean not to disrespect the West Indies badge. I think we've taken a massive step."
South Africa will play two Tests in West Indies, both in Gros Islet. While the first Test begins on June 10, the second will commence on June 18. After the Test matches, South Africa's limited-overs team will play five T20Is in Grenada.