NASCAR star Bubba Wallace opens up on racial injustice
Bubba Wallace joined Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mike Davis on the Dale Jr. Download this week to discuss racial injustice and discrimination in the United States.
This follows ten days of civil unrest and protests nationwide after the murder of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. All four officers involved in his death have since been fired and charged.
Wallace, the only African-American driver in the Cup Series, has taken to social media in recent days to offer his thoughts on racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Wednesday, he told Dale Jr. that his phone has been blowing up "non-stop" the past few days from those within the industry regarding those very issues. He's also learning to embrace the role of a leading voice on such things, a role he was previously reluctant to take.
"One thing you can’t learn being a part of a sport is the pressure that comes with it off the race track. It's how you carry yourself in matters like this," he explained.
"Through all the chaos that has gone on in the world, all of the African Americans, all of the unarmed black men and women being killed, I’ve been silent,” Wallace continued. “I’ve read all of them and I’ve been silent. I just felt like it wasn’t my place and that was a huge mistake.”
Wallace's perspective changed when video surfaced showing the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was gunned down while jogging in February in the state of Georgia.
"My heart was broken and my stomach was ripped out of my body when I saw that video. I am getting emotional now thinking about that video, just seeing how an unarmed black man was jogging down the street being hunted by two armed civilians and shot and killed in broad daylight, and the other guy videoing sounding like he loaded his gun and was ready to do the same thing.
"I’m just like what kind of world do we live in where we hunt people and take their life away because we assume that this is a black guy terrorizing our neighborhood so we're going to go kill him? What in the hell man? I don’t see how people can wake up and think like that.
"That's where it all started and kind of shifted my mindset on how vocal I need to be."
Wallace talked with his girlfriend Amanda the next morning after watching the video.
"We sat there and talked about it I'm still mind blown over it. Obviously we grieved through that and got through that, and then you see the George Floyd incident and you’re just like God, when is it going change man, when is it going to stop? I don't know what's going to change or how it's going to change but I've accepted the new role, the role I should have had before of being outspoken about it and being vocal.”
Wallace then admitted in an emotional moment, "I just don't know what to do. I feel helpless. I've been discriminated against and I've shared those stories ... It's just a sad place we live in that I won't get accepted because of my skin color, that's it. I just don’t get it.
"It’s been tough, I’ve been pissed. I raced with a lot of anger Sunday just because of everything that’s going on in the world."
Earlier this year, NACAR star Kyle Larson was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing and suspended from NASCAR for using a racial slur during an iRacing event.
"That one hit home because it was inside of our sport and that one didn't directly target me, but indirectly pulled me in and I'm right there," Wallace said Wednesday.
"I am involved and I didn’t even do anything. That moment set our sport back a lot. He knows that, the sport knows that and the fans know that."
Wallace also shared instances in which he experienced racial profiling and discrimination, even recounting the story of when his cousin, who was unarmed, was killed by police officers in 2003.
"They had just left somewhere, a football game or something. They all went to a gas station here in Knoxville, Tennessee. Playing loud music, it was a whole crowd, a hang-out spot, but the store clerk, who happened to be white, felt threatened that there were more African Americans and that something bad was going to happen. So she called the cops and the police officer had ordered my cousin, Sean, to put his hands up, and he did. And then that officer walked away, and he went to grab his phone to call his mom because he was scared. And then he was shot and killed by the other police officer."
He later added: "I didn't understand it. We lost a family member. But now seeing everything come full circle, I totally get it now."
A judge cleared the officer involved in the shooting and a civil suit filed by the family lost in court.
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