Sport has evolved over the years. What started as something that was just competition and games has become a global institution today. The reach of it is basically unlimited, and that comes with terms and conditions.
In today’s day and age, with the increasing number of issues the world is dealing with, it becomes imperative to have platforms to spread awareness on. Films and other cultural media will always be there, but today, sport finds itself as one of them.
Many sportspersons like LeBron James and Raheem Sterling are using their following and status to spread awareness regarding various issues. Among them is F1 superstar Lewis Hamilton, who is an advocate for many social issues.
Hamilton has plans to revolutionise F1, and he is tirelessly using his voice to raise awareness and ensure contribution from global citizens.
The Black Lives Matter incident
The world was unanimous in their shock and anger when George Floyd was brutally murdered by a police officer. It sparked outrage on a scale unlike anything before it, and triggered an outpour of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
George Peery Floyd Jr. was an African-American man who was murdered on 25 May, 2020. He was killed by a police officer named Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Floyd was arrested after a store clerk accused him of using a fake $20 bill. Police officers arrived on the scene to deal with the issue, and Chauvin tried to get Floyd to confess. In a brutal and eventually fatal act, he knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Floyd struggled to breathe and pleaded with the officer to stop. His last words “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry for the world.
Protests and uprisings against police brutality and racism skyrocketed after the incident. Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in jail after being convicted on multiple counts. The symbol of taking a knee became synonymous with the incident, and gathered more significance than ever.
Hamilton was among those who spoke out extensively against racism, having experienced it from his childhood. George Floyd’s death saw him take the knee every race and wear shirts with messages demanding justice. He fought for those who could not get it.
His famous shirt that read ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’ made headlines and created controversy, with some fans questioning his commitment to the sport. However, he refused to back down and remained committed to the cause.
The whole F1 grid was inspired by his actions. Hamilton led the charge, and F1 became one of the first sports to provide a platform for awareness regarding issues. The seven-time world champion addressed various issues through various means, and urged people to make a difference.
Lewis racing for the nation and all black people
Hamilton is a superstar of F1, and he has more reach and fans than anyone. The British Knight thus took it upon himself to represent minorities in a global sport like F1, and make their voices heard.
He races for the nation and for all black people, and stated that the time is upon us to speak up against atrocities and social evils happening around us. He warned of the consequences of silence, and called for people to be vocal irrespective of their backgrounds.
“I’ve been wanting to bring awareness to the fact there are people being killed on the street,” Hamilton said.
“And someone was killed in her own house and they were in the wrong house and those guys are still walking free.
“We can’t rest, we have to continue to raise awareness with it. We just have to continue to push on the issue.”
Mercedes expressed their support for Hamilton’s quest, with Team Principal Toto Wolff saying, “No question — it is entirely his decision. Whatever he does, we will support.
“The team is fighting against any kind of racism and discrimination, and it is Lewis’s personal fight for Black Lives Matter and with all the support we can give him. It’s his call.”
Lewis and his assistant believe that all lives matter
Hamilton is also a staunch human rights activist, and believes that every human’s life is important. He recently received a letter from the son of a man who was facing the death penalty in Bahrain, and it prompted him to take action, declaring that “All lives matter.”
“I have of course had more time to read them,” he said of the letters.
“Ultimately, it isn’t necessarily my responsibility to speak out on the places that I don’t know everything about, but I think we together always have to work to push for change and improvements.
“I think the saddest thing for me was that there is a young man on death row and it’s not clear…when his son writes me a letter, that really hits home. All lives matter.
“I think there’s definitely work to be done in the background. I definitely won’t let it go unnoticed. When I get some time now, I will definitely try and speak to those (people) and see how I can positively impact that weekend as a sport, moving forwards.”
Hamilton has also urged F1 to be more considerate of human rights. The sport’s decision to race in countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar has been called into question by many activists. The human rights record of these countries is sketchy at best, and it is a big concern indeed.
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