Bubba Wallace, the lone full-time African-American driver in NASCAR, recently voiced his support for the Black Lives Matter movement and called for the banning of Confederate flags at NASCAR events.
In the midst of recent protests and civil unrest across the entire nation, Wallace has been a vocal presence in a sport that has been labeled as the opposite of progressive.
Wallace was brought to tears reading a text from his mother after she heard the news of George Floyd’s murder.
“I pray as the mom of a black son that I never have to hear you cry out ‘I can’t breathe,'” her text wrote.
NASCAR, a sport that has been joked as being “for rednecks,” as one that is only for white people, and conservative and/or ignorant white people at that, would be no one’s first thought for a league taking the proper stand on a social justice issue.
Hell, even James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks, a team comprised of mostly African-American players, has refused to release a statement acknowledging George Floyd’s death or the #BLM movement.
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But with Wallace and other white NASCAR drivers’ voices calling for change, NASCAR made it official that confederate flags would no longer be welcome at its events.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 10, 2020
Wallace did not just stop there. For last night’s race, Wallace adopted a special paint scheme on his car, with #BLACKLIVESMATTER painting the side and “Compassion, Love, Understanding” etched on the back.
Popular NFL and NBA athletes took notice.
Along with the brave and courageous freedom fighters protesting every single day, it is inspiring to see popular entertainers and athletes taking a stand. Risking their money, their livelihoods, their natural upward trajectories for what they know is right.
Bubba Wallace, the singular full-time Black man in the sport, forced NASCAR’s hand, and props for the Mountain Dew league for doing what was right.
Bigots everywhere have, and will continue to voice their displeasure over the decision, but their screams will be masked by the righteous voices. Their discomfort will be lost in the wind until they look deep within themselves and understand that this movement is bigger than them.
Bubba Wallace’s name will be remembered, for what he does off the track just as much as for what he does on it. He forced NASCAR’s hand, and righteously, the organization did the smart thing.
I know I’m going to tune into the next race I can. With eyes on the TV screen, peeled wide open for that black car with 43 etched on the side.
Overnight ratings for last night’s NASCAR Cup race from Martinsville on FS1 are up +104% over the comparable race last season.
— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) June 11, 2020