NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bubba Wallace, one of NASCAR’s most successful African-American drivers, has condemned Kyle Larson for using a racial slur during an esports event, saying his fellow American needs to get such words “out of his vocabulary”.
Larson was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and dropped by sponsors after he used the racial slur during a livestreamed broadcast of an iRacing esports event on Sunday.
“There is a part of my background and culture that feels attacked and hurt, and the other part feels confused and angry,” Wallace, who placed second at the Daytona 500 in 2018, wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
“Let’s start off with the word,” Wallace said referring to the term used by Larson.
“It’s NOT just a word. There is 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 them back to a time that WE as a community and human race have tried our hardest to get away from.”
Earlier this week Larson said there was “no excuse” for his actions in a video posted on Twitter.
Larson also contacted Wallace to apologize.
“What Larson said was wrong, whether in private or public. There is no grey area,” said Wallace.
“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.”
Larson’s use of the slur sparked outcry across social media but Wallace said he was “not mad at him”.
“I believe that he, along with most people deserve second chances,” added Wallace.
“I am more than willing to work with him to address diversity and inclusion in our sport.”
Wallace was confident Larson and NASCAR would learn from this episode.
“NASCAR has been, and will be way better than how we’ve been represented in the last couple of weeks,” said the 26-year-old.
“As the person that arguably has the biggest voice on this topic in our sport, it’s tough for me to speak to because I didn’t imagine us being here.
“Can we all do a better job with inclusion? Absolutely, it’s a worldwide problem, not just in our sport. We as humans can always do better.”