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According to The Guardian, Lewis Hamilton has said “the time has come for action” after a video emerged with three-time world champion Nelson Piquet using racist language when speaking about the British driver. Piquet used the term in an interview that was conducted last year but which was released publicly on Monday night.
Formula One and Hamilton’s Mercedes team had already condemned Piquet on Tuesday morning. Hamilton reacted via Twitter, stating: “It’s more than language. These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport. I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life. There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action.”
Lewis Hamilton isn’t new to it – he’s true to it.
Lewis has advocated for Blackness in a space where it is often unseen. Gone are the days when Black athletes were just happy to be there, get their “come-uping’s,” take unwarranted racism and respond with a stoic smile. Gone are the days that racists like Fuzzy Zoeller can associate Tiger Woods with fried chicken and collard greens without swift backlash and penalty. Today’s Black athlete will not only clap back, but do so with the backing of powerful entities strong enough to move the mountains our ancestors once gazed up at wondering how they would ever get over.
The video of the interview was picked up by Brazilian media including CNN, which reported his words as he referred to the incident. It included an epithet that can be translated as the N-word.
Piquet was speaking last November to Motorsport Talk’s Ricardo Oliveira in Portuguese about Hamilton’s clash with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix in 2021, which ended with the Dutch driver going off the track and suffering a major impact with the barriers.
F1, which has a clear anti-racist platform under the We Race As One banner, swiftly condemned Piquet. It issued a statement reading: “Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society. Lewis is an incredible ambassador for our sport and deserves respect. His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”
Like Bubba Wallace, Lewis is publicly supported while secretly targeted.
Mercedes, who support Lewis’s outspoken efforts to promote anti-racism and diversity, also immediately expressed support for their champion driver.
“We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind. Lewis has spearheaded our sport’s efforts to combat racism, and he is a true champion of diversity on and off track,” their statement read. “Together, we share a vision for a diverse and inclusive motorsport, and this incident underlines the fundamental importance of continuing to strive for a brighter future.”
F1’s governing body the FIA also criticised Piquet’s comments. “The FIA strongly condemns any racist or discriminatory language and behaviour, which have no place in sport or wider society,” its statement read. “We express our solidarity with @LewisHamilton and fully support his commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in motor sport.
Two years after the murder of George Floyd, racism is still alive and well.
Even after our world underwent a racial reckoning in 2020, star athletes and Black Americans alike are routinely targeted and discriminated against for simply being who they are. Lewis, a 7-time World Champion, excels in his line of work and for some, they can’t stand to see one of us doing better than they. However, for others, it doesn’t matter if we race professionally or not, simply being Black is the crime of which there is no restitution hefty enough, prison sentence long enough, or bullet fast enough to satiate their nonsensical hatred.
Lewis Hamilton will likely go on to continue building on the career he’s already proven to be legendary, however, the predictable racism which has been a right of passage for Black athletes is being called out like never before. The only hope left is for it to make a difference.
For a full timeline of events leading up to this, check out the Daily Mail.