NASCAR driver Kyle Weatherman and his team tried to make a statement on Sunday when they debuted a “Blue Lives Matter”-themed car at a race in Homestead, Fla.
The car’s design consisted of a “Back The Blue” hashtag on the rear of the vehicle and on the sides. The car also sported a “Blue Lives Matter” flag on the hood.
Weatherman and his crew would not finish the race on Sunday, due to fire, according to NASCAR’s official results page.
His team, Mike Harmon Racing, decided to drive the car in Homestead only a few days after NASCAR’s only full-time black driver, Bubba Wallace, drove a ”Black Lives Matter”-themed car at a race in Virginia last Wednesday. The decision also comes after NASCAR announced it would prohibit all confederate flags at their races — a measure Wallace asked the sport to implement.
The Blue Lives Matter organization is a national collective of police and their supporters, created in response to the Black Lives Matter organization, whose main initiative is to eradicate white supremacy and bring both justice and equality to black communities.
Blue Lives Matter has been criticized by many advocates of social justice as an insensitive attempt to take away from the people who are in pain because of wrongful police actions.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been reignited since the death of George Floyd, serving as a rallying point for many in this country who are tired of seeing systemic racial oppression and police brutality.
“A lot going on in the world right now and I wanted to express that most first responders are good people.” Weatherman said in a tweet. “My uncle is a firefighter and he would do anything to help save lives.”
In response to a fan on Twitter, Weatherman expounded on his position and said he has love for everyone.
”I support the black men and women of this country and support all first responders also,” said Weatherman.
While it is possible to support equality for black people and law enforcement, supporting Blue Lives Matter and standing with black people doesn’t work. Blue Lives Matter was made as an antithesis to Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter was not made to antagonize any other group, it was a cause created to bring equality and justice to a marginalized group.
Supporting police and law enforcement is not a crime, but doing it as a counter to the Black Lives Matter movement is troublesome to say the least.
Mike Harmon, the owner of his namesake racing team, told CNN in a statement that he wants to send a message that the deaths of police officers in the line of duty weren’t in vain.
“As far as this week’s paint theme, there’s thousands upon thousands of police officers in this country that serve us very well and they do not deserve to be disrespected and not be appreciated,” Harmon said. “We at MHR want to send the message [that the deaths of police officers killed in the line of duty] wasn’t in vain and that they’re not forgotten and very much appreciated.”
According to Harmon, his team has produced cars in the past with paint jobs supporting the military, law enforcement, and first responders.
Whether or not the actions by Weatherman and his crew this past weekend were ill-intentioned, they will certainly be controversial. The car driven by Weatherman is representative of a long-lasting divide not only in NASCAR but in society.