Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is to set up a commission to increase black representation in motorsport.
Hamilton, who previously said he felt “so much anger, sadness and disbelief” after the death of George Floyd, has spoken widely on race in light of protests following the killing in Minneapolis.
He wrote in The Sunday Times that racism was “only too familiar to me” and said while people were quick to condemn racist gestures like monkey noises being shouted at black footballers, they were less quick to address structural issues.
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This past week, I have felt so inspired by the thousands of people across the globe using their voices to speak out against racial injustice. Fighting for real change starts with us, whether peacefully protesting, showing support on social media or signing petitions. However, our fight for equality must continue beyond this. Racism is a global disease and one which we must tackle with our votes as well as our voices. Please do your research and ensure the politicians you vote into power have everyone’s best interests at heart. The prejudice against black people at a systemic level has got to stop. For those looking for ways to support, I have provided information on petitions you can sign, as well as some books and films to learn more about the black experience. For the next generation, this education into black history should be starting at school. The global curriculum needs to be updated to include the struggles and successes of black people throughout the centuries, otherwise history is destined to repeat itself. As we have seen with the arrest and elevated charges for the officers who killed George Floyd, there is power in our voices, we can bring about change, and we must continue to fight for racial equality. For those of you who are out there fighting, know that I see you and I am right by your side. #blacklivesmatter
“I’ve been fighting the stigma of racism throughout my racing career — from kids throwing things at me while karting, to being taunted by fans in black face at a 2007 grand prix, one of my first Formula One races,” he said.
“I’m used to being one of very few people of colour on my teams and, more than that, I’m used to the idea that no one will speak up for me when I face racism, because no one personally feels or understands my experience.”
The Mercedes driver said the aim of his commission would be to make the sport “become as diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in”.
Winning championships is great, but I want to be remembered for my work creating a more equal society through education
He said it would be a “research partnership dedicated to exploring how motorsport can be used as a vehicle to engage more young people from black backgrounds with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and, ultimately, employ them on our teams or in other engineering sectors”.
The 35-year-old Hamilton posted #BlackLivesMatter to his 5.7million Twitter followers following the death of Mr Floyd, with his post featuring a video of a young black American girl in tears about inherent racism in society.
He then went on to post an apparent criticism of F1 colleagues on his Story, saying: “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.
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This past week has been so dark. I have failed to keep hold of my emotions. I have felt so much anger, sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen. I am completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people. The injustice that we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting, and MUST stop. So many people seem surprised, but to us unfortunately, it is not surprising. 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. Will Smith said it best, racism is not getting worse, it’s being filmed. Only now that the world is so well equipped with cameras has this issue been able to come to light in such a big way. It is only when there are riots and screams for justice that the powers that be cave in and do something, but by then it is far too late and not enough has been done. It took hundreds of thousands of peoples complaints and buildings to burn before officials reacted and decided to arrest Derek Chauvin for murder, and that is sad. Unfortunately, America is not the only place where racism lives and we continue to fail as humans when we cannot stand up for what is right. Please do not sit in silence, no matter the colour of your skin. Black Lives Matter. #blackouttuesday ✊🏽
“I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can’t stand alongside us.
“The way minorities are treated has to change, how you educate those in your country of equality, racism, classism and that we are all the same!”
He wrote in the paper that the “institutional barriers that have kept F1 highly exclusive persist” adding that the thousands of people employed in motorsport need to be more representative of society.
“Winning championships is great, but I want to be remembered for my work creating a more equal society through education”, he added.