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OPINION | Nascar's Kyle Larson needs to take a hard look at himself

2020-04-15 10:30

Sean Parker

kyle larson

Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 McDonalds Chevrolet, during qualifying for the Nascar Cup Series FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 7, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Nascar driver Kyle Larson's apology for using a racial slur during a virtual race on Sunday made me question the authenticity of it.

Is the 27-year-old genuinely remorseful for calling his spotter a derogatory term or is he trying to save face as the fallout with sponsors, Nascar and the fans intensifies?

The American Japanese driver was streaming his participation via Twitch when he seemingly lost communication and called out to his spotter, "You can’t hear me?" before following up his question with the N-word, the Guardian reported

He was sacked by the Chip Ganassi Racing team on Tuesday as sponsors canceled contracts with the star driver.

The answer lies in the video Larson posted on social media where he starts by saying he "feels sorry" for his family, friends, partners, the Nascar community and most importantly the African American community.

I'd argue that the African American community should be apologised to first as they are the group who take the most offence to the slur. 

It should be front and centre, because to me the apology looks as if Larson is groveling to the sport and sponsors. 

Larson's actions don't only affect the spotter who he directed the word at, but also young black drivers who aim to drive in American stock car racing. The irony is that Larson is a graduate of the sport's Drive for Diversity programme. 

By Larson using the derogatory word it plays into a power dynamic which is explored by Dr. Mihaela Popa-Wyatt & Jeremy L. Wyatt who explains: "A slurring act is a speech-act that alters the discourse roles of the target and speaker. By assigning discourse roles the speaker unjustly changes the power balance in the dialogue. This has a variety of effects on the target and audience".

Larson needs to realise the levels of harm these slurs cause and what it highlights about the speaker's 'power dominance' in this arena.

A stark reminder is former racing driver Willy T.Ribbs, he was known as the Jackie Robinson of motor racing who shattered the colour-barrier in an all-white sport.


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