Lewis Hamilton has explained the feeling behind his passionate outburst over Formula One’s silence against racism, with the reigning world champion saying that he has been “completely overcome with rage” at the sight of George Floyd’s death in the United States and saying that people of Black, Asian and mixed ethnicity backgrounds should “not feel as though we were born guilty”.
The six-time F1 world champion has taken a vocal stance against racism, having previously spoken of the sport’s white-male dominated industry given he is the only black driver to have competed, and this week he has broadened his outrage over racial inequality following the disturbing death of African-American Floyd.
The 46-year-old was arrested by police in Powderhorn, Minneapolis, with a video showing a police officer pressing his knee into his neck for more than eight minutes despite complaints that he could not breathe. Floyd was unarmed when he was detained and already in handcuffs when the incident took place, and his killing triggered widespread protests both peaceful and violent across the US. In response, many police authorities have used brutal and aggressive tactics to handle the protests, though this has largely escalated tensions across the country.
Having seen the fallout from Floyd’s death increase the spotlight on racial inequality, Hamilton spoke out again on Tuesday night to explain why he feels so strongly on the subject, having suffered from racial abuse during his F1 career - most notably in 2008 when fans in Spain dressed up in black face and taunted him with monkey chants.
"This past week has been so dark, I have failed to keep hold of my emotions," Hamilton wrote to his millions of Twitter followers. "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 the 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.”
On Sunday night, Hamilton called out the rest of the F1 grid and the sport itself for remaining silent on Floyd’s death, which prompted a number of drivers to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
F1 finally broke its silence on the issue on Tuesday night, with the official Twitter account posting a message that read: "We stand with you, and all people in the fight against racism. It is an evil that no sport or society is truly immune from.
"And it is only together we can oppose it and eradicate it. Together we are stronger."