An Open Letter To My Fellow NASCAR Fans
On the heels of Bubba Wallace, the sport's only black driver, finding a noose in his stall at Talladega we have some things to talk about.
We all know NASCAR is a predominantly "white" sport. Between the drivers themselves and the fans, there is not as much diversity in comparison to other sports.
We also are all aware, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, of the sport's reputation as a kind of "YEE YEE", "redneck" kind of sport. Some people, like those who are upset about NASCAR's decision to ban the confederate flag, don't want to acknowledge the racist undertones that run deep in the sport.
This is not to say that despite it's reputation in the "court of public opinion" that NASCAR is actually racist and believes these things and they have been working extra hard, this year alone, to change that.
For me, I realized they were standing up more against racist behaviors when they were quick to act on the Kyle Larson situation where he said the "N-word" on an iRacing livestream.
They made it clear they are aware of the reputation and were trying to change that then and by further work with Bubba Wallace, they really are making an effort.
Call it "virtue signalling" or call it whatever you want but please realize you are not in those meetings, you are not in the room having these conversations and you honestly have no leg to stand on criticizing people trying to make a change.
Even if they are all doing this just to be "politically correct" they are still doing it which is more than I, personally, have seen from others in the sports world.
I am a NASCAR fan, even more so since I started dating my racecar-loving boyfriend and lately I am an even bigger fan of Bubba Wallace.
He reached out to Kyle Larson and they had a conversation about what that word means, he spear-headed (to many people's chagrin) the banning of the "rebel flag" at races and he has been very outspoken about the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.
To see someone blazing a trail and using his status as the only black NASCAR cup driver to make change be welcomed to Talladega with such a blatant symbol of hate is heartbreaking as a fan.
Here is Wallace's statement on the matter:
What hurts even more is seeing people just below this statement saying it is fake or accusing Wallace of "setting it up" due to the attention he's been getting lately.
If it does, in fact, come out that way then by all means, that is not right. But what is really not right at this moment is the NASCAR fan community not just coming together and acknowledging racism is wrong, it exists, and things like finding a noose in your pit stall should not happen.
Just because it did not happen to you, just because you don't have "picture proof", and just because the driver is black during a time where people are fighting for black lives to matter just as much as others, does not mean it is okay to just "brush off."
NASCAR believes Bubba and has made their stance on this issue very clear in this statement yesterday:
It's hard to admit that a community you love so much needs to change or maybe has not been doing as much as they could. I get that. What I am saying now is that we really need to acknowledge that and be compassionate towards drivers who are and are trying to make change.
I love NASCAR and always have, admittedly I did start to love it a little less publicly once I understood the reputation it had but now I am here to say I love NASCAR and I love the changes they are making.
Now, according to MLive Sunday's race at Talladega was postponed due to weather, meaning it will be taking place today (Monday June 22nd) at 3 p.m. I urge you to go into watching this with an open mind and an open heart and just love the sport and all the work they do.
The sport is changing in great ways, I'd like to think I'm not alone in that opinion, but if I am then so be it. NASCAR, now more than ever, will forever have a fan in me.