As many leagues begin to walk the walk after talking the talk about social justice and racial equality, a troubling incident in NASCAR demonstrated just how much work needs to be done.
The GIST: As many leagues begin to walk the walk after talking the talk about social justice and racial equality, a troubling incident in NASCAR demonstrated just how much work needs to be done.
Oh no. What happened?: Ahead of Monday’s GEICO 500 race at the Talladega Superspeedway, a rope knotted to resemble a noose was discovered in Bubba Wallace’s driver stall. As NASCAR’s only Black driver and due to his push for equality within the sport, it was assumed to be a targeted symbol of hate.
- NASCAR’s president Steve Phelps told Wallace about the noose, with NASCAR posting on their social media before calling for an FBI investigation that ultimately found the rope was actually a pulley for the garage door and had been up since October 2019.
No harm, no foul?: No way! Wallace commended the league and the FBI for taking the threat seriously and acting fast to protect him, but has since faced an onslaught of social media backlash. Wallace reacted on CNN, saying, “I'm mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity,” and likened the past few days to “just short of pure hell.”
- While outsiders have been cruel (likely forgetting/ignoring that NASCAR brought this to Wallace’s attention first), Wallace’s NASCAR opponents have rallied around him, showing that this sport is finally taking some inspiringly positive steps on the road to change.
And what are other athletes up to?: Washington Mystic Natasha Cloud and Atlanta Dream Tiffany Hayes are opting out of the upcoming WNBA season to join Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery to focus on advocacy and social reform. Incredible.
- Las Vegas Ace Angel McCoughtry will play this season and has started a petition to allow players to wear the names of people killed by police instead of their own last names on the back of their jerseys.
- And NBA stars Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin are using their influence to fight for justice for Julius Jones, a former basketball player who played for Griffin’s father in high school. Jones is currently on death row for a 1999 murder but maintains his innocence and is backed by compelling evidence. Here’s to change.