NASCAR’s step forward against racism
Led by its only full-time Black driver, Bubba Wallace, the racing giant is determined to come out on the right side of history this time.
On Monday June 8, the only full-time Black driver in NASCAR’s three national series, Bubba Wallace, called for the organization to ban all Confederate flags at racetracks, and they listened.
“The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties,” read a statement released by NASCAR on Wednesday, June 10.
The Confederate flag has been a familiar sight at NASCAR events throughout its 72-year history. Former chairman Brian France attempted to ban them in 2015, but it angered many fans.
The ban was announced before the night’s race, where Bubba Wallace wore a t-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe” and decked out his Chevrolet with #BlackLivesMatter with the words “Compassion, Love, Understanding” painted on the hood.
Wallace’s efforts did not go unacknowledged. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted “#Nascar family” after the announcement.
The NAACP applauded NASCAR for “taking the necessary steps to remove symbols of hate, racism and discrimination from their events.”
Ryan Blaney, one of Wallace’s best friends, is in full support of him.
“I’m really proud of what he’s doing, the effort he’s putting in and wanting to kind of lead the change. I stand behind him. A lot of guys stand behind him. Not only the drivers, but a lot of teams as well,” he said.
The saga continued, when late Sunday, a noose was found hanging in Wallace’s garage stall. This has come at a time when Black men around the country are being found dead hanging from trees. Historically, the noose is a symbol of racist terror.
For the past month, Black people have been telling the world that their lives matter too, and racist White people feel the need to fight back against that.
NASCAR said that they are investigating the incident, and that they “will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.”
In response, NASCAR drivers, pit crew members and others walked alongside Wallace and escorted his car in an act of solidarity at the Talladega Superspeedway yesterday.
Wallace took a selfie with the crowd of supporters and tweeted it, captioning it “together.”
Stories like this really highlight how far we still need to go for racial justice and equity. The Confederate flag shouldn’t be flying anywhere in this country, and acts of blatant racism should not still be happening. But NASCAR took a huge step in the right direction, and the fans that are not ready for this change will either have to grow or watch the races from home.