Lewis Hamilton is using his influence to promote change

F1 World Champion, Mercedes' driver Lewis Hamilton, delivers a press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on November 13, ahead of the upcoming Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix on November 17. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP
F1 World Champion, Mercedes' driver Lewis Hamilton, delivers a press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on November 13, ahead of the upcoming Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix on November 17. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP
Nelson Almeida

I firmly believe Lewis Hamilton's presence in a white, male-dominated sport like Formula 1 is more than just about racing. 

The six-time world champion has drawn praise from fans around the world for backing anti-racism protests calling for justice over the death-in-custody of a black man named George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

Hamilton called out fellow drivers: "I see those of you who are staying silent, some of you the biggest of stars yet you stay silent in the midst of injustice," he said on social media.

"Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white-dominated sport. I'm one of the only people of colour there yet I stand alone.

"Just know I know who you are and I see you," the Mercedes driver added.

In 2019 he tweeted his disgust at racist chants directed at black English football players received from Montenegro fans. 

Hamilton again used social media, namely Twitter, to add his voice and support to people in the United Kingdom who were part of the dismantling of the statue of former slave trader Edward Colston. 

"For those of you already out there fighting, know that I see you and I am right by your side," the Briton said.

Those words are significant and far reaching. The only black driver in one of the world's most elite sports has made it clear who he supports and encourages rigorous protesting and holding institutions accountable.   

You might be asking if it's necessary for a racing driver to weigh in on matters like anti-racism protests. The answer is yes, because Hamilton has been on the receiving end of racist chants at Grand Prix during his career in F1. 

He knows what it's like to be judged and treated differently because his skin tone is darker than fellow racers. The Mercedes driver comes from a middle class family in Stevenage, and his father, Anthony Hamilton, worked two jobs to help his son's karting career. 

Millions of racing fans around the world support Hamilton because he looks like them. Hamilton has reached the peak of F1, but what he is using his voice for now is much bigger than racing. 


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