As Lewis Hamilton chases his record 7th F1 title to put himself level with Michael Schumacher, his greater battle may be off the track as he fights for racial equality and against discrimination, demonstrated by his commitment and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lewis Hamilton’s support for the BLM movement was highlighted after winning the Tuscan Grand Prix earlier in September by revealing a shirt with the words ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’. Breonna Taylor was tragically killed in her Louisville home by three plainclothes police officers. At the trial last week, sadly only one of the officers was charged, not with Breonna Taylor’s death, however, but with ‘Wanton Endangerment’ to neighbours’ property. Lewis was “sad but not surprised”, a reaction shared by many.
Lewis posted on Instagram:
“I’m so sad but not surprised at this outcome. Police continue to get away with murder every single day and it needs to stop! She was innocent and did not deserve to be shot and killed. Where is the justice? This clearly isn’t it!”
This reaction was echoed across the sporting world with Odell Beckham Jnr tweeting, he was “Disgusted. Heartbroken. But the worst part about it all is …….. I’m not shocked”.
Aratrust stands with Lewis Hamilton, re-iterating that racism and the Black Lives Matter movement is a human rights issue, and we encourage other sports stars and organisations to stand together, adopting a zero tolerance approach to racism and not just being ‘not racist’, but actively anti-racist.
However, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to do. Earlier this month people were dismayed as Diversity’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ powerful and emotive Black Lives Matter performance received 24,000 complaints, and the FIA, following Lewis Hamilton’s show of support for the BLM movement, revised their guidelines to make F1 drivers remain attired in driving suits.
Aratrust applauds Lewis’s commitment when he says,
“It’s not something that is going to change overnight, it will take a long, long time. It won’t be over in my career or even in my lifetime, but the goal is to change things for future generations.”
Whilst it is difficult to be overly optimistic in the midst of grave injustice, people will welcome the positive news from the F1 Taskforce/Governing body that says it is committed and recognises the need for greater ‘inclusivity and diversity’. There is a plan to create a new taskforce that will listen and ensure the right measures are identified and taken to increase diversity of people in Formula 1 irrespective of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or disabilities. There is also talk of a Formula 1 foundation being set up to support educational and employment opportunities especially for young people that will give under-represented talent a chance to work in this ‘incredible and exciting career’.
Such initiatives couldn’t be more important at a time like this when many F1 teams have admitted a lack of diversity. Mercedes revealed that 12% of its employees were women and just 3% were from minority-ethnic backgrounds. Given the wide talent pool we have in the UK, with an average of 25% of engineering graduates, including those studying motorsport engineering across UK universities, being from minority-ethnic backgrounds, it is disheartening that only 7.8% of UK engineers in current employment are from minority-ethnic backgrounds.
There is no quick fix solution but we expect Formula 1, given that their best and most successful driver is black, to begin successfully including different groups of people and achieving some degree of level playing field/equality.
Aratrust notes the first efforts that have been made in identifying the problem. Now the work and resources must go into remedying the problem. We are adamant that there must be initiatives that work, creating a new and more diverse generation of F1 drivers, who will become role models for future generations, making those goals more achievable, especially for those from low-wage socio-economic and minority-ethnic backgrounds.
It is actions that are needed now, not just words!