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Whitlock: NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace stars in corporate media’s new movie, ‘Half-Black to the Future’

Op-ed
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

If they ever make a movie about NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, it should be called "Greased Lying." It would be the perfect follow-up to the 1977 biopic "Greased Lightning," which dramatized the life and times of Wendell Scott, the first allegedly black race car driver to win a NASCAR event.

According to corporate media, Bubba Wallace made history yesterday when NASCAR officials canceled the final 71 laps of a race at Talladega Superspeedway because of rain. Wallace, while sitting in his pit hoping the race would be called, became the second ambiguously black man to win at the highest level of stock-car racing.

This momentous occasion was documented by the Associated Press, the New York Times, and ESPN as if it were the equivalent of Jackie Robinson's first at-bat for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Let me quote from the Associated Press story:

"With a crowd gathered behind his pit stand chanting its support — one man told his 6-year-old son, clad in a Wallace shirt and jumping up and down along the fence, that he was witnessing history."

No. What we're all witnessing is a distortion of history. Corporate media wants us to believe Bubba Wallace is Wendell Scott and 2021 is 1963. Let me try another movie analogy. Bubba Wallace is Marty McFly starring in "Half-Black to the Future." The media believes Bubba's stock car transports him to the 1950s and 1960s, where his half-black status would make him controversial and polarizing.

It doesn't. And even if it did, Bubba would be shocked at what he found in that long-ago era of racing.

Wendell Scott was a publicity stunt. Born and raised in Danville, Virginia, Scott got his shot as a race car driver because the Danville speedway had trouble drawing crowds. A smart promoter, recognizing the popularity boost integration gave Major League Baseball, decided he needed a black driver to increase attendance and drive media attention. Scott was an infamous bootleg whiskey driver in the area and was light-skinned enough not to spark a full-on KKK rally.

Comedian Richard Pryor played the role of Scott in the movie "Greased Lightning." Comedian John C. Reilly would've been a better choice. Reilly looks like one of Scott's seven children.

Whatever. Scott started his driving career on the Dixie Circuit, a regional rival to NASCAR. Scott became the Dixie Circuit's top attraction. His white competitors initially tried to kill him on the track, ruthlessly bumping his car. But over time, his competitors came to respect him, his skill, and his courage. Southern newspapers fell in love with Scott and the racial narrative. They began writing favorable articles.

Eventually, as most capitalist organizations do, NASCAR decided to cash in on the Wendell Scott phenomenon. Bill France's organization reluctantly granted Scott a license in the mid-1950s.

In 1963, Scott won a race in Jacksonville, Florida. Track officials ruled that a white driver, Buck Baker, won the race. Two hours later, track officials determined they made a clerical error and that Scott won the race by two laps. NASCAR waited two years before officially awarding Scott the victory.

Wendell Scott faced real bigotry, discrimination, and hardship. Corporate media wants you to believe nothing has changed and that Bubba Wallace is reliving Scott's life in 2021. It's just not true. Scott raced as a gimmick on a shoestring budget. Bubba Wallace has been previously backed by the king of racing, Richard Petty, the man Wendell Scott passed to win the 1963 race. Wallace is now backed by Michael Jordan and McDonald's, arguably the two biggest brands in America.

Modern corporate media refuses to tell America's story of racial progress. Worse, it is distorting the past and trying to make it worse. Look at this excerpt from the Associated Press story on Bubba Wallace.

"Wallace is the first black driver to win at the top level of the elite stock car series since Wendell Scott in 1963, a race in which he wasn't declared the victor until long after Buck Baker had already been awarded the trophy. NASCAR at last presented Scott's family with his trophy from that race two months ago."

This is greased lying. It's an intentional misrepresentation of fact. Someone unfamiliar with Scott's history could easily conclude after reading that passage that NASCAR waited 57 years to recognize Scott's victory. NASCAR waited two hours. The organization waited two years before updating its official records.

As for the trophy presentation to Scott's family? That was just another modern-day publicity stunt done to capitalize on all of the meaningless George Floyd-inspired racial publicity stunts sanctioned by corporate America.

Pretending America is trapped in a racist "Groundhog Day" is the mainstream media's number-one grift.

Scott faced seething hostility on the race track and had a victory stolen from him. When it comes to Wallace, today's media believes that knot on a garage-door rope that Wallace never saw is the equivalent of what Scott experienced.

From the Associated Press yesterday:

"In June 2020 at Talladega, NASCAR discovered a noose in the garage stall assigned to Wallace. The finding came just a week after NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its events at Wallace's urging."

But wait for it, the AP's next sentence renders the previous paragraph pointless.

"The FBI investigated and found that the noose was tied at the end of the garage door pull and had been there for months, meaning Wallace was not a victim of a hate crime."

The New York Times canonized Wallace yesterday by arguing his wearing of T-shirts and promotion of slogans in support of George Floyd, Eric Garner, and Black Lives Matter raised Wallace from "relative obscurity to national prominence."

The Times wrote that Wallace told the paper a year ago that he'd given little to no thought about his blackness until the Black Lives Matter movement became hyper-popular over social media.

"That changed in 2020 after (Wallace) watched the video of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot while jogging in a mostly white neighborhood in Georgia. Wallace said he was stirred to think more deeply about the racial dynamics of his country and his sport — and, finally, to speak out."

It's greased lying. Bubba Wallace, no different from the New York Times, the Associated Press, and ESPN, saw an opportunity to profit and benefit from the death of black men killed by white men. It's a hustle.

It's not much different from the hustle Wendell Scott agreed to sixty years ago when he joined the Dixie Circuit as its main ambiguously black attraction.
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