Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2020

Hamilton is discovering his potential to achieve another kind of greatness

2020 F1 season

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Had the 2020 F1 season started on time, Lewis Hamilton might already have equalled Michael Schumacher’s record 91 career grand prix victories.

Today we learned new details of how F1’s delayed championship will finally begin next month, paving the way for Hamilton to make a bid for another world championship.

However that unfolds, and however long he chooses to remain in F1 beyond the expiration of his current contract in less than six months’ time, Hamilton’s place among the sport’s greats is already beyond dispute.

Hamilton underlined his position as the leading voice among drivers three months ago when his was the lone voice speaking out against F1’s attempt to hold the Australian Grand Prix as the pandemic unfolded. More often, he increasingly uses his status within the sport and popularity outside it to call attention to the subjects closest to his heart.

The most powerful tool at his disposal is his vast social media presence, including 16.3 million followers on Instagram and 5.7 million on Twitter.

Hamilton takes a more considered approach to social media now than earlier in his career. At the end of 2017, shortly after apologising for sharing a video of himself criticising his young nephew for wearing a dress, Hamilton deleted years’ worth of posts from the platforms.

He learned from that experience and now treads more carefully. “I always try and make sure that I try and send positivity in the messages,” he said last month. “I don’t want to squander the platform that I have.

“I want to show pictures of me and my friends, for example, doing normal stuff. But then there’s just… it’s such a powerful tool I don’t want to use it for unimportant stuff.”

On Sunday evening Hamilton took to his favourite social media platform to tackle an extremely important subject. Appalled by the latest death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer in the USA, the six-times world champion challenged his F1 peers to speak out on against racism.

“I see those of you who are staying silent, some of you the biggest of stars yet you stay silent in the midst of injustice,” he wrote. The provocation worked. Within 24 hours, many of F1’s more active drivers on social media had spoken up.

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Charles Leclerc’s words reflected those of several other drivers. “I felt out of place and uncomfortable sharing my thoughts on social media about the whole situation,” he admitted. “I was completely wrong.”

“It is our responsibilities to speak out against injustice,” he added. “Don’t remain silent.”

While none of the drivers may have referred to Hamilton directly, his urgent words clearly emboldened many them of them to do speak out. This demonstrates the influence Hamilton now wields within Formula 1.

Hamilton’s followers have seen many messages from him on the subjects of the environment and animal rights. While these might be cynically described as soft targets (no one gets criticised for wanting to save the whales) Hamilton’s increasingly outspoken stance on racial justice is anything but.

He has also challenged the lack of diversity in his own sport. It has not escaped his notice that, 13 years since he arrived as F1’s first black competitor, there is little sign of the second following him any time soon.

For decades, black competitors have enjoyed success in other sports: Football, baseball, athletics. Formula 1, as Hamilton observed on Sunday, remains “white dominated” – a description which proved too inconveniently true for some to accept. Nonetheless, it is not just the shortage of black competitors Hamilton is referring to when he talks about diversity.

Many of sport’s greatest champions carefully avoided speaking out on political matters. At the other extreme are those such as Muhammed Ali who made it part of their identity.

Hamilton, who admits he is entering “potentially my last period of time in my sport”, is at the peak of his powers as a racing driver. But he’s just beginning to tap the power he has to be a force for good outside of F1.

There is the kind of greatness that is born on the track, and there is another kind of greatness Hamilton is just beginning to discover.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 71 comments on “Hamilton is discovering his potential to achieve another kind of greatness”

    1. I agree with everything concerning him and his status in the article. BTW, there’s one small error in there: It’s less than seven months actually when his current contract-stint comes to an end as it’s until December 31. For example, Seb is officially part of Ferrari until the end of this year, and the same with Sainz and Riccardo at Mclaren and Renault respectively. January 1 is when driver contract-stints commence and last until the very end of the final year in question.

      1. Not always – many contracts have a last race (or test) clause unless there are specific exceptions for championships etc. Once a departing driver has fulfilled his on-track obligations both parties usually wish to split.

        1. @dieterrencken OK, thanks for this clarification. This is what has been my understanding of them in general.

          1. In which case please don’t call it a ‘small error’ if that was your understanding in the first place.

    2. Jose Lopes da Silva
      2nd June 2020, 13:35

      I’m getting my popcorns.

    3. I applaud Hamilton for speaking up and letting his followers and the world know where he sees wrongdoing and injustice.
      Maybe I do not agree with it all and have been critical more than once of how he has done it, at least he has an opinion and is vocal about it.

    4. Waiting for the inevitable “Racism is bad, but…” comments.

      1. @altitude2k is that a thinly-veiled attempt at chiding those who feel the need to introduce nuance to a highly complex issue? I cannot put words in your mouth but I would assume you would agree that can only be a healthy thing given the polarising black and white narratives of the current era.

    5. Prime Minister is next.

    6. LH has singled out his silent fellow F1 drivers to try to get them to be silent no more, and it worked to some degree, and that’s great. But for me what would be truly impactful is if he would confront/denounce his silent Trump-loving friend Kanye West who has said nothing about the George Floyd murder, the riots (which he has glorified in his music), nor his man Trump gassing peaceful protestors to clear the way for a photo op in front of a church.

      1. At least you’re consistent Robbie

        1. @Dean R
          hahahahahah that was the first thing that crossed my mind. Dude is consistent with his rhetoric.
          What a time to be alive

          1. Well it’s not rhetoric. LH has an in with KW and if he could influence him to reverse his support of Trump that would be huge in terms of influencing people to get out to vote and to getting rid of that monster for good come Election Day. The US and the world could use all the help it can get.

            1. @robbie I don’t know KW, but I feel like he, like Trump, doesn’t really listen to advice or suggestions from others. And if/when they do, it was their idea all along…

            2. Why should Kanye West feel the need to reverse his backing of Trump? Perhaps ask why it is that he and many other prominent blacks support Trump in the first place? Do you know the answers to these questions?

            3. @justrhysism True

              James M KW should reverse his backing of Trump for obvious reasons. If you can’t see them you’re no doubt a big part of the problem. Perhaps enlighten me as to who these ‘many other prominent blacks’ are that support the bigoted monster, and go ahead and then try to convince me that their reasons are sound.

              Never Electric Obviously my point was that LH’s voice could be put to better use trying to influence someone with a strong following in the US, as well as the rest of the world, and whose reversal of opinion on Trump would go a long way towards ousting him on Election Day. LH influencing some F1 drivers to speak out is only going to go so far and really will not affect things in the US.

            4. @robbie Your reply is so loaded with patronising arrogance you almost make my point without me needing to bother. Firstly, and you’ll know that this is the truth: you’ve never bothered to check whether there are any other black Americans who support Trump. You clearly believe that KW is his lone misguided and mentally ill token, a narrative spun ad nauseum by the mainstream, but the picture is more nuanced than that. As you’ve asked and as we’re in the domain of celebrity/stars there are plenty such as, Dennis Rodman, Mike Tyson, Azealia Banks, Jim Brown… more important to me are the major black figures in business who are actively working with Trump to bring about positive fiscal change for the black community in the US through pension reforms, people such as Robert L. Johnson. But perhaps you’ve never heard of these people. There are also a whole host of black conservative economists, not Trumpers per se, but brilliant minds who have worked tirelessly to shed light on the actual issues facing black Americans) that I doubt you have heard of but I would be happy to provide names.

              You never attempted to answer any of the question I put to you which is telling, and I have no problem with, that but I’m curious as to how you can rheterorically request to be ‘enlightened’ when it seems you’ve already decided to to reject any answers that may be provided. I myself am no supporter of Trump, I support no party, but admire anyone who has the courage and is independently-minded enough to go his own way against the screeching masses. In the case of Kanye, the soft bigotry of low expectations (i.e how can a black man be able to have an independent mind) espoused by liberal media and in remarks such as your own, is a hidden danger that black intellectuals – there’s one in particular that springs to mind – warned about for decades ago. But sure, I’m part of the problem.

            5. James M I googled for the comments made by the people you have cited and have found little there to support your argument. Some of them supported Trump when he was first campaigning as they thought he would be good for jobs. Tyson for example has more recently accused Trump of sleeping with one of his ex wife’s. The female rapper you cite has been on again and off again Trump and seems more interested in a twitter tiff with Kim Kardashian. Dennis Rodman likes Trump as a person but not as a leader of the country. Jim Brown has been accused of supporting Trump only to try to get his own agenda through. I had difficulty finding recent quotes from these people particularly since George Floyd was murdered.

              Bottom line for me is that black people who of course have freedom for individual thought, and who will still support Trump after the last 4 years and particularly after these last few weeks, are part of the problem. And as I say above several of those you claim are supporters were supporters initially. How about now? What possible good could come of still supporting and re-electing a proven bigoted monster? Especially when Black Lives Matter.

      2. NeverElectric
        4th June 2020, 4:33

        What F1 team does Kanye West drive for?

    7. I hope for his sake and the sake of F1 fans he will not pay the price Ali or Kapernick did.

      But as I said before, there are personal risks, starting with the danger of being banned from traveling to the US. I’m sure there are other ways to punish him too, but hopefully nothing will come of it.

      1. Punishment for what?
        Speaking out on atrocities like the killing of Floyd?

        1. RP has said this in every article about the subject. Me thinks it’s his wish rather his observation.

        2. I tend to post comments that cover something that hasn’t been mentioned or discussed, in my previous post was at the end of the initial article.

          I think Kapernick should be applauded, but that doesn’t matter.

          What matters is what the Trump administration can do and what they can’t. And they have a lot of authority over Visa’s, sympathetic courts, and the ability to run the clock out on Hamilton’s race in Austin. They have a history of trying to keep people out of the country too.

          They are also willing to use the courts to persecute their enemies. Hamilton probably has enough interests in the US that they could make some things difficult for him.

          And I worry about Hamilton because he seems like the kind of target that Trump would relish attacking.

          1. Kapernick was held out by the good ol boys club of billionaire team owners. I doubt such subtle collusion could be applied to F1 team ownership even if they were inclined that way. And Liberty’s marketplace exposure is more like Nike than Fox.

          2. If Hamilton is forbidden to travel to the US GP that would be the best thing to happen to him and to his cause.
            That would make the US take down the mask of a free and democratic regime and make all the world to see that they are the kind of nation that revokes VISAs for Social network posts.

    8. Maybe this is true for america but in the netherlands he received a ehole lot of negative remarks on his stance. Not about the discussion itself but about the way he presented this

      1. To be expected. Max is the pretender to his crown so there is a lot of negativity in NL about Lewis.

        1. I think there are a lot of Lewis Fans in the Netherlands too… So not sure you wanted to say here.

      2. Not about the discussion itself but about the way he presented this

        One of Freud’s best articles is ‘On negation.’ As he explains, very often just removing the ‘not’ explains everything.

    9. 104000 people dead in the US from Covid of all colours while we all know the highest ranks of American government ignored and belittled the risks in the period leading up to it. Millions of guns in circulation making being a police officer much higher risk than in Europe causing methods applied by the police force to be much more no-nonsense than in Europe. Children shot in schools. Poverty and a broken healthcare-system. None of the above causes society to burn. The F1 show takes place in the US without a hint of a care.
      Then, tragically and unacceptably, in a country of 350 million people a dumb cop kills an innocent person and suddenly everyone with any kind of social media account -must-, or face the moral justice police, use it to publicly post messages of support. Can drivers of fast cars please just stay drivers of fast cars? The opinions of these drivers is entirely irrelevant and Hamilton asking the others to post is pure political correctness and populism. Lets see him put weight behind the words by suggesting the next race at COTA might not be personally acceptable to him unless the injustice dissapears. Thanks,

      1. Thank you. I’ll admire Hamilton when he actually takes a risk to condemn evil. E.g. if he calls out the Chinese dictatorship’s suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, and the concentration camps in which they “re-educate” a million muslims. Or if he calls out the Arab oil states for their treatment of women and dissidents. THAT would be admirable, as he would actually put something on the line, and it might actually make a difference. Instead he denounces what is safest to denounce, and what is already denounced universally. Which is fine, it’s up to him to decide what he wants to protest, but that he then PC-shames other drivers if they don’t to the same – that is not fine, that is loathsome.

        1. Hehehehe suck it up son.

        2. That’s whataboutism @krommenaas, and it brings to mind the question as to why you deliberately want to find people to be bad or guilty of something (maybe an attempt to believe they are the same… as you?).

          It’s silly and it only helps to make any discourse silly.

        3. When for example he called out the Indian government on the poverty he witness on behalf of UNICEF whilst in India where were you? I suspect lining up with the others condemning him for being disrespectful to the host country. When he did the same in Brazil where were you that time? Missed that weekend did you? Maybe you couldn’t be bothered watching the various seminars on race that he attends as speaker in the US. Or the seminars around the world that he is invited to speak at on education; or rather the lack of it. Or maybe when he condemns slavery and human trafficking on behalf of Education Africa.
          Or maybe I got it wrong and you don’t actually see those issues as evil?

        4. disagree – “but that he then PC-shames other drivers if they don’t to the same – that is not fine, that is loathsome.” He has the right to ask others to support him, we all do this in life.
          It is up to the others to use their brains to determine if they agree with him or not, if they believe his aim is straight or biased ETC, and then make a decision for themselves, if they are weak and just follow to be PC that’s their problem.

          PC is by it’s nature often a lie. Saying what is politically correct in order to be politically correct simply can’t always be the truth. I would rather hear your heart even if I don’t like it, at least I know its the truth.

      2. So I’ll be expecting you to switch off your viewing device and comment on social media when these races are taking place?

        1. I’m getting a bit tired of all these ‘when he becomes a saint and calls out all the evil in the world, THEN I’ll be impressed’-type comments. And the ‘stick to driving fast’ sentiments being expressed, too. The guy, like all of you, is entitled to express his opinions. Who the hell are any of you to demand he should do such things? Do any of you search the Interweb for all the worlds’ injustice and then alert the world, and have you always done so? Remember that this is the world of F1 that previously took the money from whichever dodgy regime would pay… But the world is changing. Sport cannot remain apolitical however much people demand it, and indeed, sports stars are realising they have a powerful voice. Don’t forget that Lewis is the only black F1 driver ever, and much as you might believe otherwise, racism is deeply embedded in every area of life, including sport. Imagine how much courage it takes to speak out the thing that has supported you, but also bullied you, your whole life. This is something new, and I’m sure there will be more, from many more people in all walks of life as they also find the courage to speak. If the best you’ve got is ‘why didn’t he do this sooner?’ then I am saddened by the stark limits of you awareness and imagination.

          By the way, the ‘Still I Rise’ tattoo across his shoulders… you know where that comes from, right, and what it refers to? Or did you think it was just some gangsta bling? He’s been speaking out for a while before he was brave enough to say it out loud. I salute him, and remember, this is only the beginning.

    10. Lewis should reflect upon his upbringing with a father who took multiple jobs to ensure his son, despite his parents divorcing, fulfilled his childhood potential and became the champion he is today. Not so many are that blessed, especially in the African American community that suffers today, see

      https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/107-children-in-single-parent-families-by#detailed/1/any/false/37,871,870,573,869,36,868,867,133,38/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/432,431

      Make of this what you will, but the lack of a father figure in childrens lives (large majority live with their mothers) must have consequences. This cycle of fathers leaving the family home must somehow be broken, I wonder of Lewis with his links to childrens charities has a career after F1 doing just this?

      1. @frasier
        Funny how you mention fathers being absent in the lives of their kids but completely ignore the killings of black men by the police being part of the reason. Please continue…

        1. @lums. If you’re pretending that the only problem is police brutality towards black men, which I’ve already acknowledged in the previous item on Lewis’s posts, then you’re blinkered, you’re doing what you accuse me of. The situation is way more nuanced than you seem to think.

          This is 3 years out of date, but I doubt the stats have changed much re who gets into trouble with the law, since someone has gone to the trouble of sorting the numbers it would be a waste for me to repeat the exercise.

          https://rosebyanyothernameblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/when-arrests-go-bad/

      2. Wow I know people hate Lewis, but wow. I wonder if you should reflect on how many F1 drivers have seats due to the fact that daddy owns an F1 team or is paying for their seat?

        I wonder if your point applies to other drivers? The answer is yes, yes it does.

        1. Hate Lewis? Where do you gat that idea? Ever since GP2 Silverstone 2006 three abreast overtake, I’ve been as committed a fan as anyone. Lewis is commenting, I’m commenting on his comments, that’s the way it works. It’s literally nothing to do with big money, it’s a strong father-son relationship that counts.

          1. @frasier How does me being in my sons’s life prevent him from being racially profiled by a police officer?
            Please tell me. I have no idea how the two are related, and how one impacts the other.

      3. William Jones
        3rd June 2020, 19:36

        Correlation is not causation, I condemn you to the 4th circle of scientific hell, for p value fishing:

        Those who tried every statistical test in the book until they got a p value less than .05 find themselves here, in an enormous lake of murky water. Sinners sit on boats and must fish for their food. Fortunately, they have a huge selection of different fishing rods and nets (brand names include Bayes, Student, Spearman, and many more). Unfortunately, only one in 20 fish are edible, so the sinners in this circle are constantly hungry.

    11. Yup turned the whole world vegan last year when his movie promised us all thicker erections too!

    12. For decades, black competitors have enjoyed success in other sports: Football, baseball, athletics. Formula 1, as Hamilton observed on Sunday, remains “white dominated” – a description which proved too inconveniently true for some to accept.

      Hamilton pointing out the obvious isn’t gonna change that. If he wanted to be a champion of minorities in motorsport, he’d fund minority drivers. Money is the only thing that matters in motorsport. It is a rich man’s sport, anyone trying to deny that is delusional. Anyone who’s gone far in motorsport has done so either because they were rich or had someone rich behind them (let’s not forget Hamilton himself had official or unofficial support by McLaren since he was a young child). So unless he spends money to help black drivers or female drivers, he’s all talk as far as I am concerned.

      1. Or perhaps motorsport can do more? You know, the ones creating this divide?

      2. I don’t think motorsport is doing anything against black people entering. You just don’t see many black racing drivers, it’s not as if they are held back before anything. We don’t see many Chinese or Bulgarian drivers either, it’s not because racing teams are racist.

        You can see it in other sports as well. A lot has to do with the country people come from. There aren’t a lot of American of African F1-drivers, because the culture to be a driver or to be a European driver isn’t as big in those country’s.

      3. @klon But that’s just perpetuating the problem. Pouring money into the infinite money pit isn’t going to make it easier for grassroots talent; if anything it makes it harder for anyone not able to pour money into the pit (which is most people).

        If he wants to make a difference, he should find a way to reduce the costs of grassroots entry level.

    13. I always found it difficult to relate to Lewis. There was an air of false modesty or something that bugged me. I put it down to him having not lived a normal childhood, super stardom does odd things.

      He’s developed into an impressive character in my opinion. I hope it continues.

      If you’re upset by his statements more than what he’s speaking ABOUT, surely you can see that that’s a problem.

      1. @gongtong yeah I agree. I didn’t like early years Hamilton. Despite his modest upbringing, I think his years of flaunting wealth irked me to the point where I couldn’t see his talent.

        But my opinion, like yours, has turned and I think he’s very impressive. I don’t like watching him win all the damn time, but I’m actually now barracking for him to surpass Schumacher as GOAT.

    14. If he has only ever inspired one person in his life; that’s good enough for me. Obviously not enough for his detractors though.

      https://www.instagram.com/p/B-xBjSKgTd1/

    15. Personally I couldn’t care less about what the guy says or leaves unsaid. But I’m tired sick of hearing about it.

      1. I think its terrible that you are made to listen and to read about Hamilton against your will.

        1. People should do something about it, like rioting in the streets

          1. If only there was some way to not read a news article on a website?

    16. We all know this site carries a torch for Hamilton, but saying there’s greatness for him as a black sympathizing with black lives matter -campaign and attacking those who don’t is going way overboard..

      1. @balue it wasn’t an attack by Hamilton; but he probably should’ve reached out privately first and allowed drivers the opportunity to speak out before calling them out. Either way, the article is about Hamilton using his platform for good.

    17. Sure, we can credit Hamilton for being the first F1 personality to speak out on this issue. But can you imagine if it was Leclerc who spoke out first? We would have all had a good laugh.

    18. Jose Lopes da Silva
      2nd June 2020, 22:40

      Interesting. I was expecting a lot more comments here, in line with what these subjects do to people over the last few years.

      Interesting and a little frightening.

    19. If Hamilton truly believes in equality he would not only speak out when it is a “White” on “Black” (NB! I don’t believe in White/Black, so a bit difficult for me to elaborate). He would speak out about all human suffering at the hands of other humans, regardless of who the perpetrator and victims are.
      That said, he also has the right to speak out about whatever he chooses, but please don’t pretend to be unbiased when you clearly are biased (I wonder how your mother feels about this bias Lewis).
      He also does not have the right to expect others to share his views or perspective of things, they have their own brains, intelligence, interpretation and situation.
      If Lewis or anyone else believes that these sorts of post and conversations will eventually put an end to any form of discrimination they are naive/stupid. But maybe it can ensure that human rights and law equally represents and defends all people, unfortunately there will always be people out there that will discriminate on grounds of Race, Gender, Religion, Sexual preference ETC, due to their own insecurities.
      Personally, I would ask the likes of Lewis and others with media presence and influence to continue speaking out about these things but to change the conversation form things like #BlackLivesCount (This inherently implies that other lives don’t count) to something like #AllLiveCount (This is all encompassing – includes all skin tones, all Religions, all Sexual preferences and genders ETC) so cannot be interpreted in favor of or discriminating against anyone and may just alleviate some insecurities.
      My personal view is that any form of discrimination shows weakness,stupidity, lack of confidence and insecurity.

      1. William Jones
        3rd June 2020, 19:41

        By your own rules, unless you call out every human being on the planet who condemns one bad thing without condemning every bad thing, then you are also clearly biased and we are all allowed to passively aggressively hint that your parents are not proud of you.

        1. @Willaim Jones
          Read into this what you wish. but please read it all – as I wrote above “That said, he also has the right to speak out about whatever he chooses,”
          I genuinely wonder what his parents, One “White” one “Black” feel about his bias and he is biased as he openly self identifies as black (FYI, that is biased regardless of if you want it to be or not. My favorite colour is blue therefore i am biased toward blue, just trying to explain this in terms everyone can understand). His parents may both agree and be very proud, still seems strange the he would choose to favour one side of his heritage over the other, I do wonder why…
          My point is obviously more clearly understood by Melanos below. Unfortunately I cannot write/comment in a manner that lands for all perspectives, interpretations or understanding.
          The point is that highlighting specific incidents as racist just because there happens to be people of varied race involved is not fighting racism, it is in fact promoting it.
          The fact that there were varied races involved does not in itself make the incident racist.
          Criminal? Almost certainly Yes, (based on the media evidence).
          Racist? We don’t know, yet.

          If the incident happened because of racial differences then it is racist. But we don’t know why the incident happened, so why stir racial tension unnecessarily, there must be an agenda, all to quick to jump on the one sided racist band wagon.

          Ref – Melanos “Its only point is demonizing white folks”, correct, That’s racism against whites right there. My point being that racism is happening in all directions and a racist movement (or commentary) is in itself racist if it only ever identifies with one perspective, the sooner we wake up to this the sooner we can start to address it holistically. If people can’t see both sides, then they are racist one way or the other.

          Again, I must point out that I only refer to “Race/Black/White” in order to discuss this issue.
          I do not see any of as as different races. We are one species, we can all breed and produce viable offspring – therefore we are one (FYI, that’s a Scientific/Biological fact).
          I do see people with differences (Like brown eyes or blue eyes, blond hair and brown hair, lighter and darker skin tones, cultural differences ETC) and all of these things are what makes us interesting and I respect, actually enjoy and celebrate these differences, goodness, it would be boring if we were all identical, variety is the spice of life.
          Off coarse we all have personal preferences and that is ok/normal, as long as they do not lead to mistreatment, discrimination, or disregard for human rights.
          Let’s start talking equality properly without bias “#AllLivesCount”, this is a band wagon that all could get onto.

          1. William Jones
            9th June 2020, 20:32

            Apologies for such a late reply, and apologies – I took you musing what his parents think as a passive aggressive attack, when it appears it was not.

            I think I can maybe offer a perspective on this for you, given that I have a Caucasian mother and a black father. Obviously I don’t speak for all people of mixed race, and I can’t guarantee that Hamilton’s parents would think like mine.

            I’m not Caucasian. I’m not. No matter which way you define it, I’m not. Nor am I white. I sometimes _look_ like a white man who has been in the tanning salon, mostly during winter. But I’m not. That isn’t because I’ve chosen to identify with my black side, but because I have dark skin, and that dark skin comes from an African man.

            If I had been born with much less colour in my skin, I would have identified as a white person. I did identify as a white person until that identity was bullied out of me at school. It was school bullying that pushed me to even notice skin colour, because when you can’t see yourself but a sea of white people, you don’t notice that you stand out. Everyone else noticed, and kids are kids.

            What did my parents think of my “choice”? Well firstly, they definitely understood that I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I hadn’t chosen to think of myself as a black person, but biology and brain chemistry being what they are meant that sooner or later, I would not identify any other way. Think of it as being gay, you can’t choose who you find attractive. Certainly environment and upbringing can play a part in how you display that attribute, but base lizard brain who you find attractive happens before the bit that can make decisions gets involved. So it is with my identifying as black.

            My father wasn’t particularly proud of his heritage – that’s not to say he was ashamed or thought of it as anything negative, he was just.. I want to say normal… bland. He loved sailing and supported my love of racing carts. He loved going out for long walks and dogs and bike rides and all things that are completely culturally neutral. I can’t think of one thing that he enjoyed that was culturally black. He didn’t listen to music, he was in his countries navy before I was born.

            My mum on the other hand is quite proud of her heritage, and tried to get me involved in many aspects of it. From these pagan parade things to music, she doused me in it all. She didn’t particularly care that I didn’t take to any of it, she was just proud to share things that she enjoyed I think.

            Race came up in a big way after we moved to England. When I was a young teenager, the racist abuse was really bad. Tied up to a tree and urinated on by grown men and left overnight in the snow bad. We moved to England, partially because my dad loved dogs, and the British are well known for being a dog loving nation. But in truth it was mostly to get me into a less racist culture, and England was the one. I know it’s going to be hard for some people to hear this if they haven’t really lived outside of England, and loath as I am to agree with Boris de Pfeffel, England has problems, but even back then, it wasn’t racist in general. Yes there were and are plenty of racists, yes there are a splattering of racist behaviour, but on the whole, you guys are about as good as it gets in the world, along with a few other European countries. Point was though, I needed a lot of counselling to help me, and I remember distinctly that we talked a lot, with my counsellor about my identity. Not just in terms of race, in fact, race wasn’t at all mentioned, but of course it flavoured everything. My parents completely understood that I wanted to forge my own way, and completely understood that I didn’t feel “white” or welcome in “white culture”. Later on, I could go to a hip hop club and just not stand out, and that was comforting, I could not be the person everyone glanced at. Weirdly, I had the same in a rock and metal club, but what we used to call townie clubs… women used to grab at me, and I’m afraid I don’t meet that particular stereotype, being smaller than average! People were less comfortable when I was around and I didn’t like it – so the push away from white culture towards black continued. Again, my parents had no problem with this – even though I had left home by then, it just wasn’t a thing with us. That period of my life was the “most black” I’ve ever been immersed and I used to tell my mum about rapping, but she was just interested in the things I liked. My time was a bit before the whole gangster thing blew up, I think she would have been less supportive then, and perhaps a little uncomfortable with what I was immersed in, but only because no-one likes to see their children listening to music and watching films which glorify violence to that extreme.

            It’s a weirdly difficult question to answer, just because my choices were such non issues. I hope I’ve managed to do it some justice.

      2. The point with #blacklivesmatter or #blacklivescount is not just that white (etc.) lives do not matter and do not count. Which is plain to see. Every other day a white (or latino, yellow… ) is brutalized and/or killed by the police and nobody blinks an eye, it’s not even news. So, only black lives matter. But do they all?
        No, they don’t. Black people are killing black people all the time and again it’s not news, nobody goes #blacklivesmatter on that. So, only black lives matter, but then only if the killer is white.
        So, #blacklivesmatter is not about saving black lives, if it was then the killers’s skin albedo would be irrelevant. Its only point is demonizing white folks. QED.

        1. Does tacking on QED mean you can refer to your own argument as your proof?

    20. Nicely written, @keithcollantine. Good on ya.

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