CHANGING LANES: What if NASCAR was Black? – News & Views – EBONY

CHANGING LANES: What if NASCAR was Black?

By David Leonard

Can you imagine if NASCAR was Black?

In 2010, scholar Tim Wise and rapper-activist Jasiri X called upon their readers and listeners to imagine “If the Tea Party was Black”—how might their perception, reach and behavior be received if the race of the people involved changed?

Two years later, I think we should play this game again, but with NASCAR. Like the Tea Party, NASCAR is overwhelmingly White (there have been 5 Black drivers in its 64 year history), male, and tied to a particular set of reactionary politics. Can you imagine if NASCAR was Black?

Can you imagine the reaction to fans in “Black Power” shirts lining racetracks, as red, black and green flags and Black Panther Party imagery blanked NASCAR events? Whereas the Confederate flag—a symbol of secession and White supremacy—are commonplace at NASCAR events, symbols of Black pride would surely bring about major criticism and attacks.

What if it was an African-American driver who purposely crashed into another driver’s car, sending him airborne as Carl Edwards did to Brad Keselowski in 2010? Can you imagine if Barry Bonds, Metta World Peace, or Terrell Owens was a race car driver and how the public might respond at the sight of intentional crashes, trash talking, fist fights, and helmet throwing? Would it be “boys will be boys” or “that’s just NASCAR”? Or would the talk to turn to criminality, thugs, and “gangstas?” One has to wonder if hip-hop would take the blame, even though nobody blames country music for this type of behavior from White NASCAR drivers.

Take a recent incident involving Kyle Busch and Ron Hornaday during a Camping World Truck Series race. After bumping each other, Busch proceeded to rear-end Hornaday’s truck into the wall, ostensibly wrecking his car. While Busch received a 1-race suspension and a 50,000 fine, can you imagine the outrage, moral posturing and punishments had the driver not been White?

Although a recent study highlighted the connection between NASCAR viewing and “aggressive driving,” with no such study on the impact of watching hard fouls, one has to wonder what people are actually scared about. If an elbow from Metta World Peace and a hard foul from Udonis Haslem prompts national outrage that focus on how the foul could have killed someone or that if someone did on the street would have been in jail, a Black NASCAR driver would lead to similar statements about “cars being weapons” and “out-of-control” drivers who are obviously crazy and therefore unsafe and off the track.

If the U.S. military gave $136 Million to a Black NASCAR driver as it did to Dale Earnhardt Jr., would people see it as advertisement or maybe a handout, welfare, or affirmative action?

Can you imagine if NASCAR fans that were overwhelmingly (if not entirely) Black booed the First Lady of the United States, what might the reaction be? Whereas White fans can boo Michelle Obama and Jill Biden during an appearance at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which it is hard to imagine Laura Bush and Lynne Cheney receiving similar treatment at a Black NASCAR event; certainly such disrespect would elicit national outrage and condemnation. Can you imagine the reaction from Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, who actually thought the incident to be justifiable given the Obamas’ “uppity-ism?”

That sort of disrespect wouldn’t fly if NASCAR were Black, nor would a group of drivers refusing to meet with the president. Just this year, several White NASCAR drivers passed on an invitation to the White House, citing scheduling conflicts. We don’t have to guess what might happen given the experiences of Craig Hodges, who in 1992 while visiting the Bush White House not only wore a dashiki, but also “handed the President a letter that asked him to do more to end injustice toward the African-American community.” He was soundly denounced in the media and shortly thereafter he was out of the league.

Continue reading @ CHANGING LANES: What if NASCAR was Black? – News & Views – EBONY.

NewBlackMan: Bigger Than Rush: The Violence of Language and Language of Violence

Bigger Than Rush: The Violence of Language and Language of Violence

 

 

 

Bigger Than Rush: The Violence of Language and Language of Violence

 

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

 

 

Rush Limbaugh has once again demonstrated the entrenched misogyny of American culture.  Calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute,” among other things, is telling of both his own ideological foundation as well as society’s.  Unfortunately, the conversation and public outrage has often drifted away from the broader issues of violence, sexism, and misogyny, away from the broader attack on girls and women, instead focusing on “politics,” on removing Rush from the airwaves, on sponsors, and myriad other issues.  Increasingly, as Rush’s defenders cite double standards, whether in the form of societal acceptance of sexism within hip-hop or from liberal commentators, the debate is moving away from the issues of violence.  In focusing on only Rush (he is reprehensible), the politics, and in debating claims about hypocrisy, we are failing to see Rush and his comments as a symptom thereby obscuring the consequences of this language and its place within the broader war against young girls and women. 

 

 

Rush Limbaugh once again illustrated the reasons we need to “occupy” the airwaves.  As I wrote last month about Fox News and the soiling of already violent public discourse, the ubiquity of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia within the public square represents a major threat:

 

 

Racism, homophobia, immigrant bashing, misogyny and a general tone of violent rhetoric is almost commonplace at Fox.  Their motto of “Fair and Balance” seems apt at this point where they are fairly balance with comments of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia.  The saturation has produced an almost normalizing effect whereupon progressives and society at large don’t even notice at this point, simply dismissing as Fox being Fox.  Yet, the consequence, the pollution of the public discourse, the assault on the epistemology of truth, and an overall souring of the public airwaves with daily morsels of disgusting, vile, and reprehensible rhetoric, illustrates that “Fox being Fox” poses a serious threat to Democracy, not too mention justice and equality. 

 

 

Limbaugh’s recent comments are yet another example of “Rush being Rush” and the level of violence that “occupies” America’s airwaves.   The demonization of women, the criminalization of blacks and Latinos, and the overall climate of racial/gender pathologizing are as commonplace as the scapegoating of hip-hop within today’s media.  This is evident in the language of everyday life.   Violent rhetoric has consequences evident in ubiquity of sexual violence, racial profiling, and job and housing discrimination.  They matter not only because the words themselves are violent, but also because they provide a window into a larger structural reality; words matter because they hurt and because the sources of meaning, the history embedded in our language, and our sense of imagination all emanate from this place. 

 

In a recent Daily Beast column, Kirsten Powers, citing examples of misogyny from the likes of Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, among others (not surprisingly as a Fox contributor she doesn’t cite any examples from her employer despite the following examples), argues that, “It’s time for some equal-opportunity accountability. Without it, the fight against media misogyny will continue to be perceived as a proxy war for the Democratic Party, not a fight for fair treatment of women in the public square.”

 

While not buying the narrative that seeks to directly or indirectly excuse Rush’s comments by noting the sexism of the “left” as evidence of both a double standard and a selective denunciation of sexism from the right (see here for example and here and here and here and here and here), any effort to transform public discourse must account for all forms of violence and the ways that racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia pollute and define media culture.  Rush’s comments are not an isolated incident (for him or talk radio) given his consistent demonization of Michelle Obama (#1, #2).  Yet, Rush’s comments must also be understood in relationship to the disgusting comments from Michael Moore (among others), who responded to Limbaugh with the following tweets:

 

 

I guess Romney knew that Rush, who made the mistake of saying what most Republicans think (women as sluts), had cost him the Nov. election.

 

 

Or after losing 6 sponsors yesterday Rush decided he loved $ more than he loved calling women prostitutes. Musta been a tough call, eh Rush?

 

 

Some sponsors don’t care how much Limbaugh apologizes: mmflint.me/Awf562 (I know – what were they doing there in the 1st place?)

 

 

RT @pattonoswalt Ayn Rand would be very pleased with how the free market bitch-slapped Limbaugh today.

 

 

Dear Rush: Please don’t stop! You say what the R candidates don’t. Voters must hear every day til Nov what Republicans truly think of women.

 

 

Don’t give up, Rush! It’ s a WAR ON WOMEN & you’re the Supreme Leader. Keep reminding voters how hate & violence drives the Republican agenda

 

 

Rush – As soon as u started losing the big $$ from your hate speech, you caved & obeyed the men who pay u. Who’s the prostitute now, bitch?

 

 

And BTW Rush, your vile & vicious attacks on me over the years – I wear them as a badge of honor. You are sad & sick & I’ve always pitied u.

 

 

The use of “bitch,” “bitch-slapped” and prostitute here, just as the sexualization of women from the likes of Bill Maher, is not a cover for the likes of Limbaugh.  Sure, the ideological underpinnings and the larger visions of society are different, but that doesn’t sanction the language nor does it limit the consequences.  Limbaugh’s comment read inside of a larger context points to the necessity of not simply removing Rush Limbaugh from the airwaves but transforming a society that needs and props up the Rushes in our mix. 

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan: Bigger Than Rush: The Violence of Language and Language of Violence.