Bubba Wallace Speaks Out After Fellow NASCAR Driver Says 'N****r' During Livestream
NASCAR suspended Kyle Larson indefinitely on Monday.
April 17, 2020 at 4:54 pm
The lone Black driver in NASCAR's national series is speaking out about a racist incident that took place this week. Bubba Wallace took to Twitter on Thursday, expressing his thoughts about fellow driver Kyle Larson saying "n****r* during a livestream.
“As much as I didn’t want to be involved, I was from the very beginning,” Wallace wrote. “There is a part of my background that feels attacked and hurt, and the other part feels confused and angry.”
NASCAR suspended Larson indefinitely on Monday, saying he used "a racial slur on a live stream during an iRacing event Sunday night," according to a press release.
According to USA TODAY, Larson became frustrated when he lost communication with his spotter during the livestream. That's when he said "You can't hear me? Hey, n****r."
“Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud," one person on the livestream replied.
Another person said, "Oh damn, he didn't just say that."
Did Kyle Larson just use the N word?— Darian Gilliam (@BlackFlagMatter) April 13, 2020
Please tell me it’s fake...
In his Twitter statement, Wallace said "there's no grey area."
"What Larson said was wrong, whether in private or public." the driver said. "I saw the incident the night it happened and within minutes Kyle texted me. He called me the next morning as well. Finally I called him back with a FaceTime to talk 'face to face,' and we had a good conversation, his apology was sincere. His emotions and pride were shattered."
Wallace said "it was too easy for him to use the word and that he has to do better and get it out of his vocabulary."
"There is no place for that word in this world. I am not mad at him, and I believe that he, along with most people deserve second chances, and deserve space to improve," he said. "I do wish him and his family nothing but the best. And I am more than willing to work with him to address diversity and inclusion in our sport."
Larson gave a public apology the next day, saying “I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said."
"There’s no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way. It’s just an awful thing to say," he said. "I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community and especially the African American community. I understand the damage is probably unrepairable, and I own up to that.”
According to ESPN, Chip Ganassi Racing fired Larson from the team after the incident.
"The word brings many terrible memories for people and families and brings them back to a time that WE as a community and human race have tried our hardest to get away from. The sport has made combatting this stereotype one of their top priorities," Wallace wrote. "NASCAR has been doing what it can to get away from the 'racist and redneck sport' labels."
Still, Wallace said too many people have bought into the stereotype of NASCAR.
"Diversity and inclusion is a main priority for the sport across every team, every car, every crew member and employee," he said. "With that said, It hurts to see the African American community immediately throw NASCAR under the bus with the 'I'm not shocked, it's NASCAR.' NASCAR has been, and will be way better than how we've been represented in the last couple of weeks."
The 26-year-old said he is "arguably the biggest voice on this topic in our sport," but it's tough to speak on the incident because he didn't "imagine us being here."
"Can we all do a better job with inclusion? Absolutely, it's a worldwide problem, not just in our sport," he said. "We as humans can always do better."
The driver said athletes are "representative of something bigger than ourselves."
"This is something most people may not understand," Wallace wrote. "We are ambassadors for our partners, our race teams, crews, families and the sanctioning body. Every single person is affected. One question I get often is 'what's the worst part of being an athlete' I always reply with how we're put on a pedestal."
Wallace made history in 2018 after becoming the first Black driver with a podium finish in the Daytona 500, USA Today reported.
“I just try so hard to be successful at everything I do, my family pushes me each and every day, and they might not even know it, but I just want to make them proud," he said after the historic moment.