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In Its Efforts to Make Itself a More Inclusive Sport, NASCAR Has Failed Already

Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 McDonald’s Chevrolet, stands during the national anthem prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 07, 2020 in Hampton, Georgia.
Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 McDonald’s Chevrolet, stands during the national anthem prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 07, 2020 in Hampton, Georgia.
Photo: Chris Graythen (Getty Images)

Black folks are tired.

When we say this among ourselves, the implication is understood. But since we now live in a world rife with brand spanking new “allies,” that phrase likely requires an explanation.

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Racism is exhausting, which, in turn, means white people are inherently exhausting too. Every single day of our lives, we’re either exposed to racism, recovering from it, or suffering from the paranoia and anxiety of waiting for it to inevitably resurface.

It’s an endless, destructive cycle that eats away at our souls and deprives us of both sleep and sanity. And despite the fact that we’re collectively, irreparably harmed, we cackle at Karens to anesthetize our pain because after 400 years of enduring this shit for nearly every second of every single day, white people have yet to just leave us the fuck alone… ever.

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It’s fucking exhausting.

Yet, compounding that fatigue is our relentless pursuit of racial equality, a finish line we have yet to cross despite our best efforts. Why? Because in order to finally achieve it, that would require white people to relinquish their sovereign birthright: racism. So not only is being Black exhausting, but it also requires us to spend an inordinate amount of our lives fighting to resolve inequities we didn’t even create—which brings us to Bubba Wallace.

On Tuesday, Bubba learned that he was not the victim of a hate crime. An FBI investigation revealed that a noose that had been discovered in his garage stall last weekend had actually been there since as early as last October.

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Under normal circumstances, this would bring relief. But due to Bubba challenging NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its events, and NASCAR finally opting to oblige, he’s gone from being one of the most successful Black drivers in the history of the sport to one of the most hated men in Trump’s America.

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More importantly, aside from death threats, omnipresent racism and whatever else Bubba’s been forced to endure, he’s now been placed in the unique position to defend his character against Redneck Twitter and our newly-minted purported “allies” over his perceived deceit. They’ve even gone as far as to compare him to Jussie Smollet, whose career was last seen swirling around a toilet bowl after being accused of orchestrating his own hate crime hoax.

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Slight problem: Jussie notified the authorities himself to report his own “hate crime”—sorry, I never believed it either—while Bubba didn’t. It was members of the Richard Petty Motorsports team who discovered the noose and alerted NASCAR, who then contacted Bubba to inform him of their discovery and ensuing investigation into the matter. Bubba corroborated this story during an interview with Don Lemon on CNN Tonight.

“I was about to go out to dinner with a couple of competitors and I get a call from [NASCAR] president Steve Phelps. I immediately think, ‘What did I do? What have I done?’” he said. “The conversation I had with Steve Phelps was probably one of the hardest things he had ever done. Tears rolling down his face.”

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Bubba also mentioned how discouraging it is to have to defend his character against accusations of making the whole thing up, even though he wasn’t the one who discovered the noose in the first place—he was only shown pictures of it after NASCAR’s investigation was underway.

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“I’m pissed,” he told Lemon. “I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity.”

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In case it wasn’t abundantly clear, Bubba Wallace is tired.

Racism is already exhausting—as is being the only Black face in your entire sport among Confederate flags, Trump supporters and other wildly offensive bullshit—and now he’ll be forced to rectify a problem he didn’t even create. Typical Black people shit, right? Thanks, in part, to NASCAR.

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In announcing that the Confederate flag would no longer be allowed at its events, NASCAR stated that it was in an effort to facilitate “a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.” But if cultivating this environment will contribute to our fatigue and create yet another problem that Black people will have to resolve on our own, what’s our incentive to accept your invitation to partake in your sport?

By failing Bubba, you’ve failed us all. We’re tired.

This is your mess.

So if we’re truly living in a new era, then I expect NASCAR and our purported “allies” to clean this shit up themselves.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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DISCUSSION

I want to know which teams had that garage in the past. Were there different teams in different years, different series? How long was it there, noticed or unnoticed (e.g. hidden above a rafter)?

Since Wallace wasn’t directly targeted, why was it placed there? In-team, or harassment (so-called “pranks” or hazing) by another?