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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 today 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 criticised 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.
Hamilton wasn’t the only black voice speaking out yesterday, as Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling once again made his thoughts and feelings public.
Sterling, who hasn’t shied away from confronting racism head on over the past few years, said we must find a way to eradicate this “disease” from society.
“I know this might sound a little bit cheesy but the only disease right now is the racism that we are fighting,” he told BBC Newsnight.
“This is the most important thing at this moment in time because this is something that is happening for years and years. Just like the pandemic, we want to find a solution to stop it.
“At the same time, this is what all these protesters are doing. They are trying to find a solution and a way to stop the injustice they are seeing, and they are fighting for their cause.
“As long as they are doing it peacefully and safely and not hurting anybody and not breaking into any stores, they continue to protest in this peaceful way.”
Sterling added that he was not worried about his activism ruining his football career.
“To be fair, first and foremost, I don’t really think about my job when things like this happen. I think about what is right.
“At this moment in time there’s only so much people can take. There’s only so much communities can take — especially black people.
“It’s been going on for hundreds of years and people are tired and people are ready for change.
“I keep saying this word, I see a lot of people on socials supporting the cause, but this is something that needs more than talking. We need to actually implement change and highlight the places that do need changes.
“This is something that I myself will continue to do and spark these debates and get people in my industry looking at themselves and thinking what they can do to give people an equal chance in this country, and hopefully other industries as well can do that in everyday society and the system as well.”
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