A huge surge of player protests against the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, in Wisconsin last weekend required the postponement of main sporting events in the United States, inspiring similar sporting delays in other disciplines and countries.
Even though he promised to continue to work with Formula One to raise awareness around racial disparities, the six-times world champion, and only black F1 driver, Lewis Hamilton yesterday declared he will not boycott Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Hamilton also explicitly pointed out that he supported his American sports peers, in solidarity with their actions.
But the Briton, an inspiring peaceful advocate of the campaign to end the racism that has triggered international protests since the May 25th brutal assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis, also claimed that he wasn’t about the impact effectiveness of boycotting the F1 race in Belgium.
Formula One F1 - Belgian Grand Prix - Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium - August 27, 2020 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in the paddock ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. Image credit REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
“I am so proud of everyone out there and I do stand unified with them to try and do what we can over here,” Hamilton said to reporters via video conference from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
“I don’t really know how us not doing the race, (it) would still go on, that’s the thing.
“I’ll try and speak to Formula One to see what else we can do to continue to raise awareness, continue to help push.”
Hamilton, who is currently only 37 points clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and on course to equal German great Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven titles in this season, has taken the knee at every race this year in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
He has launched a commission to push diversity in motorsport and has “Black Lives Matter” written on his race helmet, also after he publicly opened up about the bullying and racist insults he had to deal with when he was younger.
In support, his Mercedes team has also changed the colour of its cars from their traditional silver to black.
Yet, the boycotts were triggered by Wisconsin-based NBA team Milwaukee Bucks, when they rejected to take the court for their playoff game earlier on Wednesday. Other teams then decided to pursue suit in an unprecedented show of athlete solidarity.
The rejects then inspired Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and the Women’s NBA as well.
Lewis Hamilton vows to fight racism for ‘rest of my life’. Image credit Metro News
Despite making the semi-finals, the notorious twice Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, also originally withdrew from a tennis tournament, to then agree to come back after the WTA and USTA postponed all matches until Friday.
F1 drivers, while not all of them have taken the knee, have been united in their stand against racism and have been given some time in the build-up to races to express their support to the cause.
“I think the message that has been taken in the U.S. with some players boycotting … I think they are more U.S. specific,” said four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, who has been among the drivers taking the knee and joining Hamilton.
“I don’t know the complete background, but from where we are, we are happy as drivers in our actions and want to keep sending that message.”
Also, Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo explained that drivers would discuss whether they needed to make a more powerful statement in light of Blake’s shooting.“If there’s something we can do, of course, I think we will.
Let’s try to do something but we have to have that discussion.”