Prevented from doing his day job by the coronavirus outbreak, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton is standing out during the pandemic through his passionate campaigning against racial injustice.
The Mercedes driver took to Instagram on Monday in support of demonstrators who toppled a statue of a 17th-century slave trader in the English city of Bristol during one of the many global protests in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“All statues of racist men who made money from selling a human being should be torn down!” Hamilton wrote on the social-networking site. “Which one is next?”
In a later post to his 16.5 million followers, the Briton issued a challenge to governments worldwide “to make these changes and implement the peaceful removal of these racist symbols.”
Hamilton was just as vocal last week following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck even after he pleaded for air while lying handcuffed on the ground.
Hamilton said he has “felt so much anger sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen,” adding that “those of us who are black, brown or in between see it everyday and should not have to feel as though we were born guilty, don’t belong, or fear for our lives based on the colour of our skin.”
On Instagram, Hamilton criticized others in Formula One for failing to speak up on the issue of racism, saying they were “staying silent” in the “midst of injustice.”
“Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white-dominated sport,” the six-time world champion added. “I’m one of the only people of colour there yet I stand alone.
“I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can’t stand alongside us. Just know I know who you are and I see you…”
Some F1 drivers responded to Hamilton, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc saying he “felt out of place and uncomfortable sharing my thoughts on social media” and was “completely wrong.”
Hamilton is the only black driver to have raced in F1 and has previously spoken out about the adversity he has overcome to make it to the top of a sport he perceives being for the white and privileged.
The Formula One season has yet to start its 2020 season because of the coronavirus, with the sport shutting down the week of the opening race in Australia in March.
The season is now scheduled to start on July 5 in Austria.
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Steve Douglas, The Associated Press