The president wants Bubba Wallace to apologize for being upset about a racist symbol of terrorism. Wallace does not need to apologize.
Warning: Potentially disturbing subject matter follows.
I have decided to try to adapt some of my longer Facebook posts to my blog. So here we go.
Trump is apparently tweeting today about how Bubba Wallace needs to apologize to NASCAR and everyone else for being an African-American driver who was upset about and reported a noose found in his assigned maintenance bay.
Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
For those who are not aware, the matter was investigated. Photos established that the noose (and photos make clear it was a noose), used apparently as the pulldown for the garage door, had been there for a few years, i.e., before the bay was assigned to Wallace. Thus, it is deemed not to be a hate-crime or anything particularly directed at him.
For those who think that means this is a “nothing” incident, your white privilege is showing. Bubba Wallace couldn’t ignore that noose because that is a clear message, particularly in the South, to all African-Americans. If you are Black, and you see one hanging in what’s supposed to be your personal space, you know you have been sent a message. About lynching, if I have to be explicit. He had every right to report it. Just as he has every right to be upset about it, even if it wasn’t directed specifically at him. Because it still was directed at people with darker skin in general.
Bubba Wallace has not one thing to apologize for. Nothing.
What the incident means is that someone, probably a NASCAR mechanic, a few years ago was amused by the thought of knotting a noose to use as a garage door pull. Not a normal loop to make it more convenient to pull the door open and shut, but an actual noose. In the South.
It’s not funny. It’s not amusing. No any more than me making jokes about Weinstein as a womanizer is terribly amusing. Not any more amusing that burning a cross or wearing a white hood. Not amusing at all.
A noose is a sign of lynching Black people in the South. It’s a warning. If it’s amusing it’s to white people who think it’s funny to have that kind of power to arbitrarily end a person of color’s life and know authorities will do nothing about it.
The history of lynching in this country is brutal, horrific, terrifying, and ugly. And plenty of white people were proud of it. They sold postcards, for f#&k’s sake. And it’s never left us. It’s never truly stopped.
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the protests that followed, several Black men have been found hanging in public places. And conveniently, authorities have so far determined all of these deaths are suicides. Even though committing suicide by hanging oneself from a tree in a public space is both incredibly difficult and also an unlikely approach for someone truly suicidal. So those findings are strange. As in strange fruit, if you get my meaning. And if you don’t, here’s some lyrics:
Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop
And in case you don’t understand it yet, what we are seeing happening to African-Americans today, what Black Lives Matter is protesting, what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, and yes, George Floyd and others, amounts to modern day lynching. Dress it up in different methods, put it under color of authority, but it still amounts to taking a Black life on a whim, to show power, and to put African-Americans “in their place”, all while expecting authorities to do nothing.
So you should be concerned that someone thought tying a noose and leaving it at that bay was so amusing. You should be concerned that it apparently remained there for years, and no one took it down. You should be concerned that such horrific symbolism could be thrown around so casually.
And yes, maybe it was originally tied without ever once envisioning that clear symbolism. It is possible. But that chances are remote, and it still speaks to incredible insensitivity and concerning lack of awareness. Maybe I didn’t know raising my middle finger to you was an offensive gesture. Maybe. But given my age, you have to ask why I never learned that it was offensive and why no one ever corrected me about it before. Same with this noose.
Even if on the unlikely chance it was originally crafted in innocence, the fact remains that numerous people saw it in the intervening years and did nothing to remove it. And some of them had to know the symbolism it would be associated with. Again, particularly in the South, in a sport dominated by people from the South, and usually taking place in the South. Someone should have done something. Someone should have removed it. But they didn’t. For years they left up a racist symbol and, apparently, thought nothing of it.
Further, as one friend pointed out, considering that the noose was already there, and apparently was a known thing, someone in NASCAR could very well have knowingly assigned the bay to Wallace, NASCAR’s only African-American driver. I certainly suspect that to be the cause. And again, if not the case, it speaks of an incredible negligence on NASCAR’s part.
Bubba Wallace has nothing to apologize for.
America, get your head on straight.