Admitting that there is “a part of my background and culture that feels attacked and hurt, and the other part feels confused and angry,” Bubba Wallace addressed Kyle Larson’s use of a racial slur.
Chip Ganassi Racing fired Larson on Tuesday, less than two days after video surfaced of him uttering a racial slur during an iRacing event Sunday night. Larson apologized Monday for using the slur, saying “I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said and there’s no excuse for that.”
Wallace, the only African-American running full-time in any of NASCAR’s top three national series, addressed his feelings Thursday in comments he posted on social media and his discussion with Larson this week.
“Let’s start off with the word,” Wallace wrote of what Larson said. “It’s NOT just a word. There is a ton of negative meaning behind the word. Doesn’t matter if a person uses it in an offensive way or not. 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. NASCAR has been doing what it can to get away from the ‘racist and redneck sport’ labels. Diversity and inclusion is a main priority for the sport across every team, every car, every crew member and employee. 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. As the person that arguably has the biggest voice on this topic in our sport, it’s tough for me to speak to because I 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. We as humans can always do better.”
As for what Larson said and the interaction Wallace had with Larson this week, Wallace wrote:
“What Larson said was wrong, whether in private or public. There is no grey area. I saw the incident the night it happened and within 5 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.
“We discussed why he chose to use that language and I shared my thoughts. I told him, it was too easy for him to use the word and 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.
“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.”
Wallace also addressed people who suggested if he would have used the slur nothing would have happened to him, stating ‘let me throw the rule book at ya first,’ noting how a NASCAR member shall not make or cause a public statement or communication that criticizes, ridicules or otherwise disparages another person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age or handicap condition.”
Wallace stated: “I AM A NASCAR MEMBER. A damn proud one too. I would expect and should be held to the same standard as any other members of the sport.”
In closing, Wallace wrote:
“I think everyone can learn something from what has happened these past few weeks. I am looking forward to getting the season back underway and continue our momentum!”