Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc fights back after critics slammed him for not kneeling in support of Black Lives Matter during the national anthem.
Leclerc is one of the six Formula One drivers who refused to bow to the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling during the national anthem this year. Still, while remaining standing firmly, this Formula One driver has worn an “end racism” t-shirt, according to the ESPN report.
Before the opening season of the Austrian Grand Prix, Leclerc made a statement that he supports “ending racism.”
“I believe that what matters are facts and behaviors in our daily life rather than formal gestures that could be seen as controversial in some countries,” he said.
Leclerc feels frustrated by Black Lives Matter fanatics calling him a racist just because of not kneeling for the BLM despite his absolute proclamations against racism.
Recently, Charles Leclerc sharply tweeted:
“It is very sad to see how some people manipulate my words to make headlines, making me sound like a racist,” he said. “I am not racist, and I absolutely hate racism. Racism is disgusting.”
“Stop putting me in the same group as these disgusting people that are discriminating others because of their skin color, religion, or gender. I’m not part of them, and I never will. I’ve always been respectful to everyone, and that should be the standard in today’s world.”
“And to whoever is using my image to promote their wrong ideas, please stop. I’m not into politics, and I don’t want to be involved in that.”
At a news conference ahead of the Silverstone, the driver added that he posted the tweets, “Because I just don’t want to be judged anymore.”
“As I’ve said many times, I’m active on social media, and I don’t accept to be called the way I’ve been called in the last few weeks, negatively obviously, just because of not kneeling. I wanted to make a straightforward tweet just to express my feelings, and that’s it,” he explained.
Lewis Hamilton, who has been using his sizable platform to speak out against racial and social injustice, knelt on the front line wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, while the rest of the drivers had “End Racism” written on theirs.
Verstappen, another Formula One driver who supported Leclerc and echoed Leclerc’s comments, writing: “I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism. But I believe everyone has the right to express themselves at a time and in a way that suits them. I will not take the knee today but respect and support the personal choices every driver makes.”
There are a total of six drivers who chose not to kneel. The other four drivers were Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi, and Kimi Raikkonen.
The different stances were particularly stark coming less than two weeks after Formula One launched its “We Race as One” initiative, which is aimed to tackle racism and inequality.
Just a few days after the initiative was launched, former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone was widely criticized and condemned for his comment on racism. “In lots of cases, Black people are more racist than what White people are,” the 89-year-old told CNN, leading Formula One to release a statement and disassociate themselves from his comments.
So, it seems like “Take The Knee’ has become an untold norm in the sports world. Isn’t it?
The ritual started from US Democrats as the mark of silence in Congress. Democrats knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds, to reflect, and empathize the amount of time police officer Derek Chauvin held George Floyd down and pressed a knee into his neck.