Less than 24 hours after Bianca Bustamante pressed the like button, her name immediately trended among Open-wheel racing fans on Social Media X. It just not any other likes, this like given by this racer from the Philippines made many people angry because it was seen as supporting Ableism.
For those of you who don't know, Ableism (also known as ablism, disablism (British English), anapirophobia, anapirism, and disability discrimination) is discrimination and social prejudice against people with physical or mental disabilities. -Wikipedia
What has Bianca done to deserve such serious accusations as ableism?
On my calendar, on December 27, 2023, I noticed that the names Bianca, Stroll, and McLaren have started trending on social media X. Upon further investigation, it appears that this is due to the X account of Bianca Bustamante (@racerbia) liking a tweet or post on X, expressing support to her. However, within the same tweet, there is also an inappropriate insult directed at Lance Stroll, deemed as ableism.
Lance Stroll's current performance may be declining and causing disappointment among many, but that cannot be used as a reason to casually insult the Aston Martin driver; there are boundaries that should not be crossed.
A user on X with the account name "fletcher silberg" (I couldn't find their username on X, probably the account has been hidden since) posted a tweet defending Bianca Bustamante, who was labeled as overrated on a TikTok post. However, within the same post, he also made an inappropriate comparison with Lance Stroll, labeling him with "autism".
"How can you say she's overrated when you have people who buy their way into the sport like autism stroll who have talent but if they didn't have daddy's money would be replaced instantly, like don't say overrated till she gets her shot..." - Fletcher Silberg (possibly not a real name) on X
The above tweet (from fletcher silberg) has been deleted now, but before its removal, it was liked by Bianca Bustamante. Later, Bianca clarified that she did not intend to like that post and it was an accidental like.
However, before Bianca provided clarification, many racing fans on X had already expressed their disappointment with her actions. The account below, which has received numerous replies, likes, and retweets, is an example of the reactions circulating.
there's no many ways bianca could've addressed people calling her overrated and NONE of them should involve being ableist (or even involve another driver).— clara (@leclercsletters) December 27, 2023
it's also sad that, even after all the tweets about it, she still hasn't unliked it and no apology has been made. pic.twitter.com/0AwxQTlKxQ
From the disappointed tweets above, it seems that Bianca did not immediately unlike the post that sparked the discussion. Perhaps she was on the go or busy; we can't be sure. Regardless, this allowed enough time for X users to talk about it until it became trending.
Bianca Bustamante eventually provided a clarification.
In this clarification, Bianca immediately apologized and explained that she promptly unliked the post in question. She also mentioned having a brother with autism and emphasized that she would never support ableism practices as indicated by that post.
In her clarification, Bianca also apologized to Lance Stroll and anyone who was offended. She asserted that this was an unintentional mistake.
"I truly deeply apologise. I own up to my mistakes having liked an inappropriate tweet, I can't believe all the people whom I have hurt. I was scrolling and I accidentally liked the tweet, once I discovered that later on, I immediately unliked it. As someone who grew up with my only brother having Autism, I completely understand the challenges faced by anyone that is Autistic. I would never in a million years support Ableism at any level, let alone support an Ableist tweets against a fellow driver. I take the topic of Autism very seriously and very personal. To Lance Stroll and anyone that this has offended, I sincerely apologize as these types of comments is something that I do not support. I hope the racing community understands this is 100% an accident, my cincerest apologies for this big mistake." -Bianca Bustamante via. X
After providing the aforementioned clarification, Bianca also posted a video on social media X, showcasing interactions between herself and her brother, who has autism. The video included the following caption: "I rarely share so much about my personal life. But if there’s one thing that kept me going, it was my brother... And truly I’m sorry to the whole Autism community." -Bianca Bustamante via X.
Not the First Incident?
An account named Clara (@leclercsletters) commented that this isn't the first time Bianca has liked posts that criticize Lance Stroll. There are at least two tweets on X that Bianca liked, discussing and sarcastically commenting on Stroll's performance in Formula 1 races.
also this not being the first time she has liked tweets about lance? why is she targeting only him? f1 is a sport all about money, shocking— clara (@leclercsletters) December 27, 2023
it's just disappointing to see that pic.twitter.com/b66rhLGiC0
"Also, this not being the first time she has liked tweets about Lance? Why is she targeting only him? F1 is a sport all about money, shocking. It's just disappointing to see that." (@leclercsletters)
For an ordinary person, this might not be a problem, but for someone who already has a name and responsibilities as a public figure like Bianca Bustamante, this becomes a significant issue. As a well-known racer, Bianca has a social responsibility and must uphold her reputation, considering the sponsors that support her.
Currently, Bianca is an official driver for the McLaren team in the F1 Academy races, so she has a responsibility to maintain the team's good name, as they also compete in the main Formula 1 championship.
With this case, hopefully, we can all learn to be more responsible and careful with our actions, both in the real world and in the digital realm, such as social media.
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