Lewis Hamilton, seven-time Formula One world champion, recently appeared in the On Purpose podcast where he discussed the racist abuse he suffered in school.
Lewis Hamilton recently discussed the racist abuse he faced while in school in a recent appearance on the On Purpose podcast, released this week.
Hamilton, a seven-time Formula One world champion, detailed how he was repeatedly called the N-word and had bananas thrown at him at school growing up. Hamilton was born in Stevenage, England where he also attended school.
“The constant jabs, the things that are either thrown at you, like bananas, or people that would use the N-word just so relaxed. People calling you half-caste and not knowing where you fit in. That was difficult,” Hamilton explained.
“School was the most traumatizing and most difficult part of my life. I was already being bullied at the age of six. At that particular school I was one of three kids of color and just bigger, stronger, bullying kids were throwing me around a lot of the time.”
“I felt the system was up against me and I was swimming against the tide. There were a lot of things I suppressed. I didn’t feel I could go home and tell my parents that these kids kept calling me the N-word or I got bullied or beaten up at school today, I didn’t want my dad to think I was not strong,” Hamilton expressed.
Now, Hamilton is using his platform as a professional F1 driver to speak out against racism and issues of prejudice. He’s established an organization known as Mission 44, which works to better the lives of minority groups who are underrepresented and underprivileged.
As the only black F1 driver in the league, Mission 44 also works to improve diversity and inclusion in motor racing along with the help of Mercedes, the team in which Hamilton races for.
“In my [secondary] school there were six or seven black kids out of 1,200 kids and three of us were put outside the headmasters’ office all the time. The headmaster just had it out for us – and particularly me.”
Although Hamilton is entering the final year of his 40 million Euro-a-season deal with Mercedes, it’s expected that the professional racer will sign a new multi-year contract to continue racing.
When looking towards the future, Hamilton told the podcast: “It is going to be really, really hard when I stop racing. I have been doing it for 30 years. When you stop, what is going to match that?
Nothing is going to match being in a stadium, being at a race, being at the pinnacle of the sport and being at the front of the grid or coming through the grid and that emotion that I get with that. When I do stop there will be a big hole so I am trying to focus and find things that can replace that and be just as rewarding,” Hamilton stated.
For now, Hamilton will keep racing and shedding light on racial inequalities and prejudices that exist in the sports realm, and beyond.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.