Noose Discovered in Chevrolet Driver Bubba Wallace’s Stall

The threat of racist violence cast a pall over this weekend’s NASCAR race in Alabama, as driver Bubba Wallace discovered a noose in his garage.

Wallace, driver of the #43 Chevrolet for Richard Petty Motorsport team, is the only Black driver in NASCAR’s top series and successfully pushed to have the Confederate flag banned at races recently.

Wallace posted about the noose on Twitter writing:

“The despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and ow persistent we must be in the fight against racism.”

Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, called the noose “one of the most feared symbols in American racial history” in 2017, after a noose was left at the museum shortly after its opening.

Writing an Op-Ed in the New York Times, Bunch wrote:

“A noose is a symbol of the racial violence and terror that African-Americans have confronted throughout American history and of the intensity of resistance we’ve faced to any measure of racial equality. During slavery, one of the main purposes of lynching was to deter the enslaved from escaping to freedom. But lynching did not end with slavery; it was also a response to the end of slavery. It continued from the 1880s until after the end of World War I, with more than 100 people lynched each year. So prevalent was this atrocity that between 1920 and 1938, the N.A.A.C.P. displayed a banner at its national headquarters that read simply, “A man was lynched yesterday.”

A counter-narrative has cropped up, accusing Wallace of planting the noose himself, but fans of the Confederate battle flag, an irredeemably racist symbol whose purpose was to promote racial terror, proved that they were willing to go great lengths to make their displeasure at the banning of the flag known.

The Associated Press reports that some people were seen driving past the gates of the superspeedway flying the flag. More elaborate still, a plane flew over the track pulling the flag along with the words “Defund NASCAR.”

The slogan is a reference to the popular “Defund the Police” slogan that protestors across the country and, indeed, around the world, have taken to using to exhibit their frustration at the disproportionate amount of public funding that is being funneled into police forces.

The slogan is closely related to the Black Lives Matter movement, under whose banner Wallace raced two weeks ago.

Alabama is the first race where the Confederate flag ban has really had to be put into action. Last week’s race at Talladega only had members of the military against which the Confederacy fought. This weekend’s race—which was postponed due to rain—was supposed to play host to as many as 5,000 fans. NASCAR has not said how many flags it had to confiscate over the course of the event if any.

The sport did condemn the noose, though.

“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” NASCAR said in a statement. “As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”

The series has vowed to open an investigation to find the person or people who left the noose and “eliminate them from the sport.” NASCAR has also said it will work with local authorities to determine whether or not a crime has been committed.

Wallace, meanwhile, says the noose will not prevent him from continuing to race or push for racial equality.

“As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you,’” he wrote. “ This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”

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