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The stock car racer emphasized it’s ‘NOT just a word.’
Written by Madison J. Gray
Bubba Wallace, the lone African-American driver in NASCAR racing has responded in length to his fellow driver, Kyle Larson after he was ousted from the sport after using the N-word.
NASCAR suspended Larson on Monday and his team, Chip Ganassi Racing, fired him after he used the slur while in a Livestream of an iRacing contest on Sunday night.
Larson, who is part of Japanese descent, hurled the offensive remark during a virtual race on Easter Sunday, thinking he was only speaking to other drivers. “You can’t hear me? Hey, n*****,” he said before the other drivers informed him he could be heard by the thousands of fans who tuned in to the event.
Wallace said that he spoke to Larson and was compelled to speak publicly about what happened.
“Let’s start off with the word,” said Wallace, 26 in a message posted to Twitter on Thursday. “It’s NOT just a word. There’s a ton of negative meaning behind the word. Doesn’t matter if a person uses it in an offensive way or not. The word brings many terrible memories for people and families and brings us back to a time that WE as a community and human race have tried our hardest to get away from.”
Wallace noted how the sport of auto racing has tried to combat the sport and fans “racist and redneck” stereotype and said that it hurt to see people in the African-American community respond by saying, “I’m not shocked, it’s NASCAR” when the sport has tried to open itself to diversity and inclusion.
But he also said that he spoke to Larson in a Facebook chat and that after their conversation the embattled driver was contrite and “his apology was sincere.”
“I am not mad at him,” he said. “And I believe he, along with most people, deserve second chances and deserve space to improve.”
Larson posted an apology video, but still lost sponsors including McDonald’s and One Bank. “I used a word that should never, ever be said,” he stated in the video. “I just want everybody to know how sorry I am.”