Ah, the rush to simplify the so-called racial tags. I noticed that once again, people, in this case the media, have been quick to call a celebrity-athlete “black” almost at the same time they acknowledge that he is of mixed ethnic heritage. This time it is relation to internationally known Formula 1 racing phenom Lewis Hamilton.
The media have had to move quickly to label the young British man, as he is considered to be to F1 what Tiger Woods has been to golf, a non-white in a sport dominated by whites, who has risen to the top at a meteoric rate. Indeed what Hamilton has done is nothing short of extraordinary.
He currently leads the standings in F1, which by itself is a feat since he is so new to this top level. But he comes with credentials that are awe-inspiring. In this, his debut year Hamilton has set three Formula 1 records in quick succession. At the 2007 Bahrain Grand Prix, he became the first F1 driver to finish in the top three in his first three F1 championship races. After he finished second at the 2007 Spanish Grand Prix, he became the youngest driver ever to lead the drivers’ championship. Hamilton gained his first victory at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix in June, the fourth youngest to do so. In gaining his first Grand Prix victory in his sixth race, Hamilton became the first driver since Pablo Montayo in 2001 to win a race in his first Formula One season.
Wow. And of course when I heard several news reports on his recent victory and rise to the top of the standings, he was labelled the first black person to do so. Hamilton’s being only half black is again too complicated for most. Hopefully, he, like Tiger, will publicly call attention to this error. Being on the world stage as he is, he is in great position to call a few people to task on this all-too-common mis-labeling.