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As the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement rises, the embedded racism that exists in our country is coming to light. The things that have been known as the norm are being challenged every day. As people exist in their respective professions, they are bringing awareness to their individual experiences with racism. Earlier this month, NASCAR’s Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. called for the removal of the Confederate flag. The series that followed after that, have resulted in an emotional rollercoaster for fellow drivers and fans.
After the outrage of the murder of George Floyd, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., the organization’s only full-time African American driver, decided it was time to take a stance. According to sportsnaut.com, he arrived at the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway wearing a shirt that read, “I can’t breathe.” The quote represents the last words of some of the Black men, including Floyd, who have been killed by police brutality. To echo his statement, Wallace drove a black painted car with “BLACK LIVES MATTER” written on the side.
While the statement showed solidarity, Wallace knew more had to be done. Following the race, he called for the removal of the Confederate flag at races.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with Confederate flags,” he said in an interview with Don Lemon. Wallace went on to emphasize how important it is to start having these tough conversations. Two days after his statement, NASCAR released an official statement revealing they would take down the flag.
“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. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties,” NASCAR said in a statement on the official website.
Days after the decision, a noose was reportedly found in Wallace’s garage stall. After being notified by NASCAR president Steve Phelps, Wallace was hurt by the hateful action. Considering the weight of the situation, the organization didn’t hesitate to open an investigation.
In wake of the news, fellow competitors assured Wallace that he was not alone in his fight. During Monday’s GEICO 500 race, participating drivers and their crews pushed Wallace’s car to the front of the Talladega Speedway. Bubba was visibly emotional as his #43 car was moved to the front of the line. The beautiful image was shared across media platforms and spread light during a dark time in America.
Following the notable act, the FBI released an update on the incident that sparked the gesture. According to their official statement, they concluded that Wallace was never a victim of a hate crime and the rope found in his garage had been there since the fall of 2019. Since hearing the news, Wallace posted another statement responding to the outcome.
“First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was,” Wallace said. “I want to thank my team, NASCAR and the FBI for acting swiftly and treating this as a racial threat. I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been.”
While he is happy about the timeliness of the investigation, Wallace’s original beliefs still stand. In an interview with CBS, Wallace emphasized that regardless of when it was placed, the rope found in his garage was not like the rest.
“Yes, it was a garage pull for our stall at Talladega, but that was in the solid shape of a noose,” Wallace said. “And when my guys seen that, when my crew member had seen that, who happened to be African American, he did his research first, and I was very proud of that. David Cropps, a guy I’ll stand by in any trenches, any day, walked up and down the garages to make sure he wasn’t overreacting. And when he seen that the other garage pulls were basically just a solid piece of rope, no knots in them, and we had a knot that was in the shape of a noose.”
Bubba Wallace isn’t the only one who will continue to look into this mysterious incident. NASCAR announced that they will continue their investigation until they come to a solid conclusion. Although some might find it necessary for obvious reasons, NASCAR’s decision to dig deeper is important. The unfortunate truth about the FBI’s conclusion is that people will use it as a tool to tear down the movement. There are people who believe that the Black community overreacts, looks for problems, or deserve the treatment they receive. To write off the case as a simple rope, aids the argument that keeps us back as a country instead of forcing people to have the courage to understand the truth. NASCAR’s choice removes the privilege from those who stand on that side of the argument.
The organization has seen a lot of changes within the past week. While it is not perfect or clean cut, it is an example of the steps necessary to dismantle our current system. In order to create a world filled with equality and justice, racism must be dug up from every corner in this country. Racism does not stop with politics, and neither should the fight to end it.
AfterBuzz TV will continue to cover the latest events around the country and justice for George Floyd. Make sure to share this article with a friend to keep the names of Floyd and other innocent Black people alive.
Toree Weaver is an AfterBuzz TV host with a passion for glamour and kingdoms. When she isn’t modeling or dancing, she can be found binge watching shows from Gossip Girl to Game of Thrones.
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