Yesterday, I wrote about a noose found in the garage stall Bubba Wallace’s team occupied for the Geico 500 at Talladega.
I should have waited to comment on the situation until the investigation was finished.
The FBI finished its investigation today when it concluded Wallace had not been the victim of a hate crime and the rope had been in the garage “since as early as last fall.”
NASCAR: Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) June 23, 2020
See statement below.
I don’t even know what to say. pic.twitter.com/cgfhVI1qCj
After I read this statement, I had another question.
How did this story get so big before anybody in NASCAR brought up the possibility the rope mistaken for a noose might have been in the garage for months, maybe as a handle to the shut garage door?
Maybe the answer is it blew up because people like me don’t wait for the the facts before they make assumptions.
I am usually cautious to a fault with things like this. I got scooped because of caution when I was a journalist.
I decided to comment yesterday after I read information from credible people at the track, but I didn’t check the information enough.
I assumed some things in yesterday’s post which, it appears, turned out to be wrong.
I assumed the rope was put there because someone wanted to “fan the flames of racism and hate.”
Actually, the rope appears to have been put there because someone wanted to close the garage door.
I wrote the actions of the person who hung the rope were, “racist, unconscionable and unacceptable.”
Well, hanging a rope to pull a garage door down is obviously none of those things.
Yesterday’s post also had this gem:
“If I could go back in time, I’d suggest whoever thought it’d be a good idea to hang a noose in Wallace’s garage find something better to do with his or her life.
If I could talk to him or her now, with the FBI on the case, I’d suggest whoever it is turn themselves in and face the music.”
Yesterday, I should should have waited to write.
Since I didn’t, it’s me who should face the music today and eat my words.
If the noose in Wallace’s garage is a handle to pull the door down, and there was no hate crime, this is the best possible outcome.
My thought process yesterday was based in the fact a decision to hang a noose in a NASCAR garage is stupid at any time, and it is.
I hoped the whole thing was a misunderstanding.
It appears it was, and I am glad.
I am glad for my state, and I am glad someone did not plan to hang a noose in Wallace’s garage.
I’m also glad we got to see a display of unity like the one NASCAR’s drivers showed Wallace and the nation yesterday.
Still, I wrote what I wrote in quick reaction. I am sorry for parts of it.
I’m sorry for the parts I quoted earlier and for part of the last sentence, which said, “Yesterday’s racist act backfired…”
I was too quick to assume racism where it appears there was none, and I’d like to apologize.
Racism is always wrong, but it was also wrong for me to assume it was there and throw caution to the wind.
I do stand by the message I had in mind. We do need to learn from the past, and even with the progress we’ve made the present does prove there is still work to be done.
I have work to do, too.
When I comment on important issues and stories in the future, I’ll be more careful to make sure my words are rooted in facts instead of assumption.