Lewis Hamilton Says He Had Bananas Thrown At Him In School When Talking About Racist Bullying During Childhood
"The constant jabs, the things that are either thrown at you, like bananas, or people that would use the N-word just so relaxed," Hamilton said.
by Aria Bell
January 24, 2023 at 9:50 pm
The 38-year-old appeared as a guest on Jay Shetty’s On Purpose podcast, where he discussed his life growing up in England. During the sit-down, he shared the parts of his childhood that helped shape the man he is today. One of the tribulations was his being traumatized by bullying that began when he was 6.
The seven-time Formula One world champion revealed the hardest thing he had to do to be who he is today.
“I think continuing to have the belief in myself, and not letting that veer off since I was young,” Hamilton said. “Since I’ve been told from my teachers that I would never amount to nothing. The bullying or the things that you face, the adversity you face, the discrimination. And just continuing to keep your head up, continuing to march on ahead towards your dream.”
He continued, “I think the easiest thing in life is to give up on whatever you’re focused on.”
Hamilton, who is Grenadian and white, faced a lot of adversity being one of the only few people of color in school growing up.
“School was probably the most traumatizing and most difficult part of my life. I was already being bullied at the age of 6. 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,” he told Shetty.
Hamilton admitted he was always the last one picked, or not even chosen, for activities and games, even if he was better than others.
“The constant jabs, the things that are either thrown at you, like bananas, or people that would use the N-word just so relaxed. Umm … people calling you half-caste and not knowing where you fit in. That, for me, was difficult.”
Hamilton felt the system was against him — in addition, not seeing people that looked like him in history lessons contributed to him feeling excluded as well.
“Oh wow, where were the people that looked liked me? In my school, there was only around six or seven Black kids out of 1,200 kids, and three of us were put outside the headmasters’ office all the time. The headmaster just had it out for us, and particularly me,” Hamilton shared.
He continued, “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 today, or I got bullied or beaten up at school today, or I wasn’t able to defend myself. I didn’t want my dad to think I was not strong.”
Hamilton kept his emotions and tears to himself and dealt with them quietly, but he could channel them and get out his frustrations on the race track, his quiet place. He didn’t feel seen until he was 16 when he came across a teacher that cared about him as a student. She helped the driver discover more about himself and how to better himself through education.
Although this period in life was difficult for him to endure, and he felt he was “swimming against the tide,” he said he appreciates it.
“I’m so grateful for that journey because that’s what built me to the person I am today.”
In 2008, Hamilton became the first Black race car driver to win a Formula One world championship. He’s used his platform to speak out against racism and the unfair treatment of people of color, and he said he knows firsthand the effects it can have on one’s self-esteem and drive.