Floyd, an unarmed African American man, died in police custody two weeks ago after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was caught on video pressing his knee into his neck for over eight minutes. Since Floyd’s death, protests have erupted nationwide and even worldwide, shining a light on purported abuses by police, as well as racism in general.
Wallace, the only African American driver who races full-time in all of NASCAR’s three divisions, is calling for the sport’s sanctioning body to ban the Confederate flag at all of its races, telling CNN’s Don Lemon that there is “no place” for it at NASCAR events.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them,” he said.
Bubba Wallace on CNN Monday night
“My next step would be getting rid of all Confederate flags” at NASCAR events pic.twitter.com/3c76cl4h1T
— Alan Cavanna (@AlanCavanna) June 9, 2020
Wallace, for his part, says that he personally has never been bothered by the flag’s presence at NASCAR races. However, he said he can’t speak for anyone else.
“People feel uncomfortable with that. People talk about that. That’s the first thing they bring up.”
The flag, officially known as the Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag but colloquially referred to as the Confederate flag, has been a flashpoint for debate for decades now. Supporters of its use say that it’s a historical artifact, a symbol of pride in the South. Critics, however, call it a racist symbol, representative of slavery and oppression of blacks in the region before, during, and after the Civil War.
NASCAR, for its part, has already banned its use in any official capacity at its events — which is to say drivers can’t have it on their vehicles or uniforms. Since 2015, the organization has been encouraging fans not to bring the flag to races. However, fans still show up with it.
Indeed, as USA Today reported in 2017, the flag is an “important symbol” to many fans.
Wallace is not the only NASCAR driver to weigh in on the presence of the flag in the sport. According to USA Today, Brad Keselowski said that it “might mean something different to different people.” But as for him, he’s not about the Confederate flag.
“I only salute one flag and that’s America’s,” he said, adding that he didn’t believe it is his place to tell people to get rid of the Confederate flag.