Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
The banning of Confederate flags from NASCAR events shouldn’t be applauded as it should have been long ago, says Carron J. Phillips.
The banning of Confederate flags from NASCAR events shouldn’t be applauded as it should have been long ago, says Carron J. Phillips.
Photo: Getty

NASCAR thinks Black people are stupid.

It’s the only logical conclusion one can come to after the last few weeks, as they and the FBI expect us to believe that their noose problem has nothing to do with Bubba Wallace, the lone full-time Black driver in the sport.

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Because according to them, a pull rope “fashioned like a noose” isn’t enough to be considered a hate crime, even when it’s been around since as early as October. So you’re telling me that NASCAR has a culture so grotesque that the object that was used to kill and intimidate thousands of Black people for decades was ignored until a member of Wallace’s crew noticed it?

Wow.

The National Lynching Memorial sits less than 100 miles from Talladega, and this still happened.

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NASCAR wants us to believe that they’ve exhausted all their options. I’m not buying it, and neither should you.

“On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” read a joint statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr.

“The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.

“The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation.”

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Somebody’s lying.

How do I know?

Because this isn’t the only noose incident the sport is dealing with. On Monday, it was reported that Sonoma Raceway officials are investigating “a piece of twine tied in what appeared to be a noose,” which was found on Saturday. Sonoma hosts NASCAR and IndyCar Series events and was closed over the weekend when the noose was found.

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Is it me, or does that read as if it may have been done by someone that works there? Kind of like the situation at Talladega with Wallace, huh?

“People want to call it a garage-pull, and put out old videos and photos of knots, as their evidence,” Wallace said Tuesday night on CNN. “But from the evidence that we have, that I have, it’s a straight-up noose.

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“Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So it wasn’t directed at me, but somebody tied a noose, that’s what I’m saying.”

NASCAR has always been, and will always be, an unwelcoming sport for Black people. It’s in the DNA of the sport, and when the company had its greatest opportunity to evolve, it failed. Over the past few weeks, NASCAR had to deal with the two most evil instruments that have been used against Black Americans: the Confederate flag and the noose.

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When the flag was banned, many celebrated. I was left wondering why NASCAR was receiving praise for doing something that should have been done a long time ago. NASCAR was founded in 1948. It doesn’t take 72 years to right a wrong, especially when that flag is still being used to promote hate in 2020.

“We must build upon our heritage, not tear it down. And we must cherish the principles of America’s founding as we strive to deliver safe, beautiful, elegant justice and liberty for all,” said President Trump about Confederate statues being removed.

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Do you know how racist you have to be to consider Confederate monuments, and the flag, as your heritage, when you’re from Queens, New York?

But before there was ever a Confederacy, there was the noose, and according to the NAACP, 3,446 of the 4,743 people that were lynched in this country from 1882 to 1968 were Black.

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Yes, Black people were still getting lynched in 1968. Let’s not pretend it was “so long ago.” Richard Petty was third that year in the national standings.

When NASCAR banned the Confederate flag it didn’t do anything to stop race day from feeling like a Klan rally, in the same way, this noose investigation isn’t going to stop employees and fans from fighting to keep their sport racist and white.

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This will always be a moment in history in which we can look back and say NASCAR tried. But I’m a person that has never given out brownie points for good intentions. I’m all about good execution. Sometimes your best just isn’t good enough, and that’s the case with NASCAR.

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Because when you’re trying to attract more Black fans and diversify your sport, you have to go over and above, especially since it’s been revealed that this is a sport where Confederate flags and nooses seem to be par for the course.

“Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we’ve made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all,” Wallace wrote on Wednesday.

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At 26 years old, Wallace has a youthful positive outlook on race that many at his age tend to have.

Not me.

I refuse to hold my breath in hopes that a sport that’s always allowed racism to have the best seat in the stands will now do the work that’s necessary to eradicate it.

Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.

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