NASCAR raises the bar

Bubba Wallace

NASCAR raises the bar
June 24
14:07 2020

In a shocking move, NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag from their races. They still have a long way to go on their journey of inclusion, but this is a step in the right direction that was spearheaded by it’s only Black driver Bubba Wallace.

For many Black NASCAR fans, or just Black people in general, it was long overdue. I for one have enjoyed watching a race from time to time, but when I catch a glimpse of that flag, it immediately turns me off. And for context, the popular flag that is most prominently flown during NASCAR events is a Confederate battle flag, not the flag for the entire Confederacy, but it still holds the same racial undertones.

It seems like this was the perfect time for Wallace to make this push against the flag to NASCAR. With racial justice being such a hot topic around the entire country right now, NASCAR had no choice but to look at themselves in the mirror and assess what could they do to contribute to the cause.  

Wallace has received a lot of backlash from NASCAR fans about this issue, claiming he is infringing on their rights.  Many claim that the flag is a symbol of Southern heritage and not a symbol of racism. Some of Wallace’s fellow racers also have an issue with the new rule.

“Well it’s been a fun ride and dream come true, but if this is the direction NASCAR is headed, we will not participate after the 2020 season is over, I don’t believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love. I could care less about the Confederate Flag but there are ppl that do and it doesn’t make them a racist all you are doing is f#@%!?& one group to cater to another and I ain’t spend the money we are to participate in any political BS!!  So everything is for SALE!!,” NASCAR truck driver Ray Ciccarelli posted on his Facebook page after hearing the news of the ban on the Confederate flag.

What confuses me about the uproar from fans is, why so angry? The Confederacy only lasted for about five years or so and they lost the war. I’m sorry, but who still idolizes the flag of the side that lost. This country fought an entire war and the Confederacy came in second. We also fought a war against Nazi Germany, but we don’t see people fighting for the right to fly that flag at sporting events.

Is it that hard to comprehend that for many people in this country, that flag is a sign of oppression and racism? It’s not a sign of Southern heritage, because if it were, then everyone from the South would be proud to fly that flag.

This was a necessary move made by NASCAR. Over the years, the sport has tried subtle ways to try and include minorities into the sport. They have internship programs with several HBCU’s across the country that allow individuals from those schools to be included in the sport, from being on the pit crew or even the administrative side. But those measures have only done so much to include minorities. The sport needs to continue to push forward if they want to make the sport marketable to minorities.

Other sports, such as tennis and golf, had similar issues, but had the benefit of having a minority that rose to the top of the sport. Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson, the Williams’ sisters, Sloane Stevens, and now Coco Gauff have brought eyes to the sport of tennis over the last half century. For golf, Tiger Woods made it cool for more African Americans to head to the country clubs in the late 90s. The question remains, is Bubba Wallace going to be that same catalyst for NASCAR? Hopefully so, but it remains to be seen.

Since I am not as familiar with NASCAR as I am with other sports, I decided to reach out to an avid fan that would be able to give me more insight on the subject and the conversations taking place among fans.

“For the most part, everyone has been kind of positive about it and they realize it is a thing of the past,” said Ryan Sparks about what he has heard from fellow NASCAR fans about the new rule. “It is a part of American history, but that’s where it belongs, in the history books. We want to get the stands packed with all kinds of people and new fans that haven’t been fans in prior years.

“You don’t want anything offensive flying at a NASCAR race, whether they mean it as being offensive or not.  Some people do take it as being offensive, so as part of being a good human, I don’t think it should be there.”

In response to what Ciccarelli said, Sparks added, “It just shows people’s ignorance. I try to be sensitive to other people’s beliefs and thoughts, even though it may not be something I believe.”

Sparks stated he hopes this new rule will bring more minorities into the sport, because he is a proponent of bringing as many people to the sport as possible.  

“I don’t see anything but positive from this,” he continued. “I think the more we can work together and get along, it will be better for sports and our country in general.”

Going to a NASCAR race has been on my sports’ bucket list for a long time. With this new rule in place, this may be the perfect time to give the sport a chance, because now I feel NASCAR is making a sincere effort to be more inclusive. 

Way to go, NASCAR.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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