In a lengthy post shared on social media, Darrell Wallace Jr. said he is not mad at Kyle Larson for the racial slur he used last weekend.
Larson used the N-word over his in-game communication Sunday night while on iRacing, which was picked up on a Twitch livestream heard by drivers and viewers, resulting in an exodus of sponsors and his release from his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing. Wallace, who is the only full-time African American in any of NASCAR’s three national divisions, spoke with Larson earlier this week.
“As much as I didn’t want to be involved, I was from the very beginning,” said Wallace. “There is a part of my background and culture that feels attacked and hurt, and the other part feels confused and angry. Let’s start off with the word. It’s not just a word. There is a ton of negative meaning behind the word. [It] 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 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 combating this stereotype one of their top priorities. NASCAR has been doing what it can to get away from the ‘racist and redneck sport’ labels. Diversity and inclusion (are) a main priority for the sport across every team, every car, every crew member, and employee.
“What Larson said was wrong, whether in private or public. There is no grey area. I saw the incident the night it happened, and within five 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. 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. 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 admitted he has agreed with some comments and been baffled with others he’s read on social media. As an athlete, Wallace wrote, an individual becomes a representative of something bigger than themselves, and he feels most may not understand that.
“We are ambassadors for our partners, our race teams, crews, families and the sanctioning body,” said Wallace. “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. Everything we do, eat and say is under a microscope. But a ‘normal’ person can mostly do whatever they want. Some call it unfair? Sure, but that’s’ what we sign up for from day one.”
Wallace conceded that he hasn’t always been the best ambassador himself, and he shot down the notion that had he said the word it would have been fine.
“I am a NASCAR member,” emphasized Wallace. “A damn proud one, too. I would expect and should be held to the same standard as any other members of the sport. I think everyone can learn something from what has happened these past few weeks. I am looking forward to getting the season back underway and continue our momentum.”
You can read Wallace’s full post below: