In related news, the sky continues to be blue
Okay, folks, I’m going to let you in a dark, disturbing secret that may forever change how you perceive me: I like NASCAR. You read that correctly. The weekly event in which a gaggle of privileged white rednecks drive in a circle for three hours? I find it legitimately entertaining.
Yes, I know, I’m a hopeless Philistine. Feel free to insult my intellect any way you see fit. I deserve it. The thing is, when people make fun of me for liking NASCAR because it’s boring, it’s kinda funny. After all, stock car racing is no more boring than golf, baseball, soccer, or tennis, and at least you get the fun of knowing someone could end up brutally disfigured.
No, what really bothers me is when people associate NASCAR with ignorance and racism. Why? Because I have no argument for that. After all, this is the sport that once took away a win from a black driver, and to this day has only one non-white person racing at its highest level on a full-time schedule. That would be Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who probably gets mistaken for a manual laborer on a regular basis.
The perception that NASCAR fans are ignorant bigots was not helped this past Sunday, when Michelle Obama was met with a chorus of boos during the Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Admittedly, those fans might have had other reasons for booing her (much like how some Tea Partiers just hate poor people and not black people), but when a white, conservative, Southern fanbase, not exactly known for being tolerant, boos the most preeminent black woman in America (okay, second-most — just in case Oprah wants to have me killed), they are going to raise a few eyebrows.
You know who definitely thinks they were motivated by racism? Why, Rush Limbaugh of course. Yes, the man behind such legendary hits as “Michael J. Fox Is Totally Faking”, and “Chinese People Sure Do Talk Funny, huh” is back. Limbaugh proclaimed that the crowd responded to her so negatively because they didn’t like her “uppityism.” No really. I know that sounds like the name of an Erykah Badu album, but that’s the actual word he used. I was going to play devil’s advocate with this story — perhaps by pointing out that the fans wouldn’t have been any kinder to Hillary Clinton — but if a racist thinks they were being racist, then who am I to argue?
So yeah, there’s a good chance that NASCAR fans aren’t any more keen on black people than they were in the ’60s, which really shouldn’t surprise anyone. A similar thing happened in golf recently, when Tiger Woods’s former caddy Steve Williams admitted he celebrated a victory over Woods excessively because he wanted to “shove it up that black arse” (more of a Ludacris album) was equally non-surprising. Auto racing and golf both continue to have an air of bigotry surrounding them, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. If one good thing comes from either of these events, it’s that for once people will talk about golf and NASCAR without mentioning how boring they are. That has to count as good publicity, right?