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The Bubba Wallace FBI case changes nothing

Bubba Wallace
Bubba Wallace kneels as team owner, NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, and NASCAR drivers stand in solidarity with Wallace prior to the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Credit: 367006Chris Graythen | Getty Images via NASCAR Media

Just because the FBI found there was no crime committed with Bubba Wallace, racism still exists around the sport

So, the FBI found that there was no hate crime directed at Bubba Wallace. Good job, FBI. Now can you find time to go after those who spread vicious racist venom at Wallace on social media?

The bigots are out in force with all sorts of conspiracy theories that run counter to what a government agency found, some even going as far as saying Wallace planted it last year. They are dancing in the streets, maybe literally in some places, because they believe white people have somehow been absolved of everything they have ever done because of one case cleared off the books.

I have seen a lot of “much ado about nothing.” Today. The media is, of course, to blame for blowing this out of proportion. We are always jumping to conclusions, they say. Listen up, folks; responsible journalists do not make things up. They report what is in front of them, with the facts at hand. They will willingly retract if something was misleading or wrong.

Most importantly, respectable journalists and outlets publish whatever the outcome is to investigations as they did today, no hyperbole, just the facts, ma’am. They do not start rumors and run away from it when proven wrong. There are too many of those outlets that flood the internet.

A PLAGUE OF IRRESPONSIBLE REPORTING

Newspapers of a bygone era, some called them rags, used to blare factless headlines to sell papers, but when forced into an apology or retraction, you’d have to look deep into the pages to find it. They fulfilled their legal obligation. Today, it’s all about clickbait and an apology? Really? Retraction? Most cannot spell or know what the word means.

So what did we learn from the FBI findings? The noose at Talladega Superspeedway was a garage door pull rope “fashioned” like a noose. Finding something like that in the garage of NASCAR’s only black driver raises the “what the hell” alarms. It blew up for one reason and one reason only: Wallace has been out front of NASCAR’s decision to ban the confederate flag and running a Black Lives Matter car in Florida.

That No. 43 car is owned by Richard Petty who gave his blessing to use that paint scheme. He even added a large peace sign to the rear panels showing hands of all colors inside it. Petty has been around racing for a long time. He has seen the good, bad, and ugly of his sport including the exclusion of anyone that looked different.

Even if his point of view was different from what it is now, it’s irrelevant. He signed him, not because of his color, but for his talent. Now he is stepping up again in support of his driver. When The King speaks, NASCAR and the racing world listens.

Richard Petty Motorsports released the following just after 8:00 p.m. Tuesday.

RPM Release

Via Richard Petty Motorsports

YOU WERE NOT LET OFF THE HOOK

The FBI did not grant absolution to the Bubba Wallace haters. They do so, not because he is a lousy driver, but because he is black in a sport where he is the lone face of color inside a car. You have to remember that NASCAR gained popularity as a southern sport with speedways full of rednecks and confederate flags. The “N” word was a big part of their vocabulary, and even today, in the face of change, they hold on to that sliver of grass for fear they would fall off the face of the earth.

Growing up in New York City, my only exposure to NASCAR was what I saw on TV. But there was something that always bothered me when I watched, seeing Old Glory fly next to the stars and bars of the confederacy. What? To me, that was an oxymoron, emphasis on moron. How could anyone in America have a loyalty to a group of people who were happy to start a civil war so they can keep owning slaves, but loyal to the country who freed them?

Which brings me back to the noose, and the immediate reaction right after it hit the internet. Regardless of whether it was intentional or leftover from 2019, everyone in NASCAR stood together. Bubba was the central figure in a display of unity, but it was an entire sport that came into the 21st Century, rejecting everything that it once stood for, including those who don’t want to let go of it.

You can bet that no one regrets taking part in Monday’s support of Wallace even after the FBI report on Tuesday. NASCAR has slammed the door shut on those who will stain it while flinging them wide open for a new world of inclusion. This unintended incident should not be and “I told you so” moment in time. It should be a lesson on how to move forward for a better America.

Change isn’t coming anymore. It’s already here. But there is still a long road ahead.

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