“People of color.”
It’s a term that’s so often used when it shouldn’t. I’ve used it, and more than likely, you have, too. It’s the new way to address non-white people, like an updated version of “minority” that excludes white women.
Ya know, just the “people of color.”
However, just because something begins with good intentions, doesn’t excuse the failed execution that follows. That’s what is happening now, because “people of color” was supposed to be a term for the oppressed and overlooked. Well, that was until Kyle Larson, a man who’s half-Japanese, reminded us that there are levels to this, and as usual, black people are at the bottom.
“You can’t hear me? Hey, [N-word],” said Larson when he lost communication with his spotter on his headset during an iRacing event on Sunday night.
“Kyle, you are talking to everyone, bud,” said one driver, as another responded, “Yikes.”
Listen to that audio again. Because that’s a person that uses the N-word with a hard “er”, a lot. Trust me, it wasn’t the first time he’s said it.
“I want to say I’m sorry,” he said in a video posted to social media. “Last night, I made a mistake and said the word that should never ever be said, and there’s no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way, you know, it’s just an awful thing to say.”
“You know, I understand the damage is probably unrepairable and I own up to that, but I just want to let you all know how sorry I am and I hope everybody is staying safe during these crazy times.”
Larson isn’t sorry, he’s just sorry he got called out, which was evident in that pathetic apology.
The six-time NASCAR Cup Series winner was suspended by NASCAR indefinitely, and conveniently fired by Chip Ganassi Racing, as he was in the final year of his contract. Sponsors like McDonald’s, Credit One Bank, Fiserv, and Chevrolet also washed their hands of Larson.
“NASCAR has made diversity and inclusion a priority and will not tolerate the type of language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event,” read a NASCAR statement. “Our Member Conduct Guidelines are clear in this regard, and we will enforce these guidelines to maintain an inclusive environment for our entire industry and fan base.”
You would think that by 2020 people would have learned that racism is costly, and that diversity is good business. But yet again, here we are.
And speaking of “diversity”, Larson graduated from NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which was created to address the fact that the sport’s community is basically made up of white men. Confederate flags run wild at their events. I’ve covered the sport and race day feels like a Klan rally.
NASCAR has always had an image problem when it comes to attracting “people of color,” and it will continue to as long as “people of color” like Larson are involved with the sport. And even then, he’s proof that all “diverse candidates” don’t necessarily believe in actual diversity unless it benefits them in some way.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR continues to handle Larson and if they make any additional decisions concerning this topic. Because when one of your best and brightest young stars uses a racial slur on an online racing program that was created to attract fans, it’s either going to do one of two things.
Push “diverse” fans away, or bring the racists in even more.
And as Larson has reminded us, there will be “people of color” on both sides of that table.