NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, who is black, said fellow driver Kyle Larson deserves a second chance after he was fired and lost his sponsors after he used a racial slur early this week online.
In a lengthy and emotional statement posted on Twitter, Wallace said he was not angry and had spoken with Larson since the incident.
He also said he felt the driver is sincere in apologizing for using the N-word while streaming a racing game on Sunday.
“What Larson said was wrong, whether in private or public. There is no grey area,” Wallace posted Thursday on Twitter.
“I saw the incident the night it happened and within 5 minutes Kyle texted me. He called me the next morning as well. Finally I called him back with a FaceTime to talk ‘face to face,’ and we had a good conversation, his apology was sincere. His emotions and pride were shattered,” Wallace wrote.
“We discussed why he chose to use that language and I shared my thoughts. I told him, it was too easy for him to use the word and that he has to do better and get it out of his vocabulary. There is no place for that word in this world,” he wrote.
“I am not mad at him, and I believe that he, along with most people deserve second chances, and deserve space to improve. I do wish him and his family nothing but the best. And I am more than willing to work with him to address diversity and inclusion in our sport,” Wallace continued.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) April 16, 2020
Wallace also wrote that he felt the word “brings many terrible memories for people and families and brings them back to a time that WE as a community and human race have tried our hardest to get away from.”
“The sport has made combatting this stereotype one of their top priorities,” Wallace wrote. “NASCAR has been doing what it can to get away from the ‘racist and redneck sport’ labels.”
“Diversity and inclusion is a main priority for the sport across every team, every car, every crew member and employee. With that said, It hurts to see the African American community immediately throw NASCAR under the bus with the ‘I’m not shocked, it’s NASCAR.’
“NASCAR has been, and will be way better than how we’ve been represented in the last couple of weeks. As the person that arguably has the biggest voice on this topic in our sport, it’s tough for me to speak to because I didn’t imagine us being here. Can we all do a better job with inclusion? Absolutely, it’s a worldwide problem, not just in our sport. We as humans can always do better,” he added.
“We are ambassadors for our partners, our race teams, crews, families and the sanctioning body. Every single person is affected. One question I get often is ‘what’s the worst part of being an athlete’ I always reply with how we’re put on a pedestal,” Wallace wrote.
Larson was racing virtually Sunday on the popular video game streaming platform Twitch when he appeared to be under the impression he had lost the audio connection to his teammates.
“You can’t hear me?” he said, followed by the N-word.
Another iRacing player quickly told the driver, “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud.”
Another player on the video was heard saying, “No way did that just happen.”
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman posted a video of the incident on Twitter and wrote, “Racism still prospering in society. This is way more common than any of y’all know!”
Racism still prospering in society. This is way more common than any of y’all know! https://t.co/bBTg16bv3A
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) April 14, 2020
Stroman also challenged Larson to an MMA fight in another post.
He should never be allowed to race again in @NASCAR. Said that derogatory word so nonchalantly. Your apology doesn’t matter. Post-career…I’ll fight this man in a @ufc event for charity. He needs his ass beat. Would love to hear him say that word in the octagon! https://t.co/lZ4Hg1fxsw
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) April 14, 2020
Larson issued an apology for using the racial slur on Twitter.
“I just want to say I’m sorry. 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,” Larson said in a video apologizing for using the word.
“I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community and especially the African-American community. I understand the damage is probably unrepairable. And I own up to that,” Larson continued.
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) April 13, 2020
Larson was fired shortly after by Chip Ganassi Racing and was also dropped by his sponsors.
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