STILL STANDING WITH BUBBA
Updated: Sep 2, 2020
I can admit that my knowledge on NASCAR probably doesn't warrant me to speak on the sport as a whole, but I can't ignore the last couple weeks what I've seen. I was not familiar that NASCAR had a black driver participating in the cup race until Bubba Wallace painted his car black with the hashtag "Black Lives Matter" after George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis. NASCAR never was appealing to me and my friends. It seemed very regional and catered to a particular fan base. Let's just say that fan base didn't include me, a black man. So to find out that NASCAR had a black driver was shocking. I rushed to a TV to support a black man in a white dominated sport as he raced in Martinsville.
NASCAR has done a tremendous job standing by Bubba during these times. They seem to understand how tough a situation it is for him. On June 8, NASCAR banned Confederate flags from their events with the hopes to make a change in the way the sport is received. They want to be more inclusive for fans, competitors, and the industry as a whole. This didn't go over well with all of the sports fans and even drivers. Ray Ciccarelli, who has never won an event, says 2020 will be his last season racing because of the ban of the flag. He believes that the sport is getting too caught up in politics? Because they are banning a flag? Of the side who lost the war? Very odd. When some southern white folks see the Confederate flag they tend to say words like "history" or "tradition". When black folks see that flag they seen pain and suffering. You would think that if you ask someone to please not do something this makes me uncomfortable, people would make the necessary changes. In Germany, they don't fly Nazi flags because of history or tradition. You can be respectful of peoples feelings without being a snowflake.
That brings us to this week when a noose was found in Bubba Wallace's garage ahead of a race at Talladega. Bubba did not find the noose himself. A team member saw it and reported it to NASCAR officials who quickly began an investigation to see who was behind this. Imagine the shock of the person who first walked into the garage of the only black driver and finds a noose hanging. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this common in the sport? To have a noose hanging in the garage? If so, huge red flag. If not, that person did the right thing by alerting the proper officials to do an investigation. This is labeled a terrorist threat and a hate crime. Kudos to the person who saw it first. You did the right thing.
The FBI did an investigation and came to the conclusion that this noose wasn't aimed at Bubba. In fact, the NOOSE had been hanging in the garage since October 2019. In the statement release from both NASCAR and the FBI, neither denied that the object found in the garage was a noose. Thankfully, it wasn't geared toward Bubba, but IT. WAS. A. NOOSE. NASCAR trolls had a field day on Twitter and went as far as comparing Bubba to Jussie Smollett who staged a hate crime a year ago. Instead of feeling relief that no one in the sport was involved in what could've been a hate crime, they took the opportunity to shit on this man's character by insinuating that the whole thing was staged. Bubba was not the one who first saw the noose nor was he the one who demanded an investigation. Yet, he is villainized instead of being embraced by the "fans" of the sport he participates in.
I'm happy that this wasn't done by one of Bubba's teammates or competitors or someone he comes in contact with at races. To my knowledge, the FBI will continue to do an investigation on why the noose was located in that garage since October 2019. NASCAR still has a lot of work to do. At the race Monday in Martinsville, someone purchased a plane to fly over the race with a confederate flag and the words "Defund NASCAR." If NASCAR is serious about being more inclusive for all, they should be prepared to lose (idk) 15-25% of their current fanbase who are not as inclusive. Hopefully they can build up a new age of fans with their inclusivity so that maybe a young black fan feels like NASCAR races are for him.