Lewis Hamilton commission to promote diversity in motorsport

Madrid Desk, Jun 21 (efe-epa).- Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton on Sunday announced the creation of a commission to promote diversity in motorsport.

The British driver, the first black F1 champion, said in a Sunday Times op-ed that he would team up with Royal Academy of Engineering to make “real, tangible and measurable change” to tackle the stigma of racism that he himself has had to deal with in the sport.

“I’ve been fighting the stigma of racism throughout my racing career — from kids throwing things at me while karting, to being taunted by fans in black face at a 2007 Grand Prix, one of my first Formula One races,” he said in the article.

The six-time world champion said the commission would be dedicated “to exploring how motorsport can be used as a vehicle to engage more young people from black backgrounds with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and, ultimately, employ them on our teams or in other engineering sectors.”

“I’m used to being one of very few people of colour on my teams and, more than that, I’m used to the idea that no one will speak up for me when I face racism, because no one personally feels or understands my experience,” he added.

“Most of the time, they don’t even see it and if they do, they let their fear of saying the wrong thing get in the way.

“Despite my success in the sport, the institutional barriers that have kept F1 highly exclusive persist. It is not enough to point to me, or to a single new black hire, as a meaningful example of progress.

“Thousands of people are employed across this industry and that group needs to be more representative of society.”

The move comes amid global anti-racist protests triggered by the killing of African American man George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

As well as serving to highlight structural racism in modern-day society, Black Lives Matter activists have also shone light on the United Kingdom’s colonial legacy, campaigning for the removal of statues of slave traders in the country.

English sport stars have voiced support for the movement on the public stage. The Premier League’s return following the coronavirus hiatus incorporated the movement by switching the players’ names on the back of their jerseys with Black Lives Matter.

Hamilton concluded: “The time for platitudes and token gestures is over.

“When I look back in 20 years, I want to see the sport that gave a shy, working-class black kid from Stevenage so much opportunity, become as diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in.”EFE-EPA

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