Lewis Hamilton Thinks You Should Care Why Athletes Are Kneeling

Photo credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick began to silently not stand for the American national anthem in 2016, in protest of police brutality and oppression of people of color. The debate has since spread, widely, with Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton weighing in earlier this week.

While other drivers’ public-relations representatives have told them to stay out of the kneeling controversy, Hamilton, who’s from the U.K. and races in a series that only visits the U.S. once a year (although that could change), hasn’t kept quiet on many of the divisive racial debates in America over the past couple of years—despite not living in the country or participating in an “American” sport.


The most recent example came earlier this week, when Hamilton posted a couple of Instagram photos with the hashtag “#takeaknee,” to a lot of debate on either side in the comments:

And he posted another, which was a share from another account that listed out names of victims of color:


The posts came at a time when prominent figures in predominantly white American motorsports have pushed a different rhetoric about the protests, with top-level NASCAR team owners Richard Petty and Richard Childress saying they’d fire employees who didn’t stand for the national anthem before a race. Trump showed support for NASCAR afterward, while driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted his support for peaceful protests.

Getting into these U.S.-centric, often racial, debates isn’t new for Hamilton. He’s talked about the election of Donald Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement, telling TIME he followed the election cycle closely and watched all three debates. Here’s what he told TIME after the U.S. election in December of 2016:

He’s not a fan of Donald Trump, though Hamilton hopes Trump proves his critics wrong and becomes a capable president. “It’s such a huge contrast,” says Hamilton, “when you’re a politician like Barack Obama, who’s a really good family guy, he never groped a woman, or said anything derogatory about women. He’s someone I can personally look up to. If I had a kid, I could be comfortable that my kid is going to look at that guy and benefit. I can’t say that would be the case with Trump.”


Hamilton also posted on Instagram about the Black Lives Matter movement in July of 2016, with the hashtags “#blacklivesmatter” and “#alllivesmatter.” The latter has been seen by some as a way to take focus away from the Black Lives Matter movement. Here’s what Hamilton told TIME:

“Some white people were angry,” says Hamilton. “Some black people were angry. Of course, the issue is there are these cops that happen to be killing black people. But it’s all lives matter. To the millions that follow me, I’m trying to be careful. I don’t want to segregate myself away from other ethnicities.


Hamilton told TIME back in December that he “feel[s] equal” to everyone, of all ethnicities, and that’s “the kind of positive message” he wants to share. Good on him for getting involved, knowing there’d be backlash.

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Alanis King

Alanis King is a staff writer at Jalopnik.