F1's Lewis Hamilton speaks on 'traumatizing' racism in UK schools
Speaking as a guest in the On Purpose podcast on Monday, Hamilton says bananas were chucked at him and that he was constantly called the N-word.
Born and raised in Stevenage, UK, the seven-time Formula One world champ Lewis Hamilton recalls the racial abuse he endured during his time in school.
Speaking as a guest in the On Purpose podcast on Monday, Hamilton said bananas were chucked at him and he was constantly called the N-word. He described how “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."
"The constant jabs," he added, "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."
Currently preparing for his 17th season in the F1 races, the racecar driver recalled that from the "six or seven black kids out of 1,200 kids", three including him were always at the headmasters' office, as he believed that the headmaster was against him, "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.”
Taking initiative in a competitive field
As the F1's only black driver, Hamilton founded Mission 44 for under-represented groups and Ignite, a joint enterprise with his Mercedes team, intended to encourage diversity and inclusion in the field of motor racing. The driver has also experienced racism in the field after former F1 driver and three-time world champion Nelson Piquet used a racist term to describe him in July last year.
When asked during the podcast about future plans after F1, Hamilton expressed: “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.”
For now, Hamilton is due for his final year in the £40m-a-season deal with Mercedes and the first round of the F1 season will take place in Bahrain on March 5. He is expected to sign a new multi-year contract, but details have not yet been revealed.