GUEST COLUMN: Minority journalist shares his thoughts on Kyle Larson’s comment

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By Darius Goodman, Guest Columnist

There are times when people get too comfortable and NASCAR driver Kyle Larson did just that in an online race Sunday night. NASCAR Twitter was buzzing early today after NASCAR was made aware of the racial slur Larson used while playing a game online. Fans, who were watching, were shocked to hear Larson use the racial slur (the N-word) and after seeing the clip of the incident, I was too.

If he were attacking someone and used the term then most definitely take his career away, shut the ride down and throw him out of the sport. But there’s more here to discuss.

First of all, Kyle Larson (who is Japanese-American), you know better! The term ‘n—-r’ is a derogatory word that has been used to describe African-Americans for generations. Be it malicious or not, saying this word is disgusting and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.

Secondly, he said it, and we know this to be true from the video that has gone viral on Twitter. But Larson is a minority in the sport of NASCAR and came through NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. Now, let me take a moment to shake my head.

The Drive for Diversity program has success stories to its credit and should not be dragged through the mud because of this incident involving Larson. He is one of the huge success stories of the program and has been held to a higher standard that can’t be denied. We all need to pause and remember that racism is still alive, especially during this pandemic we are all experiencing today. The amount of respect he had throughout the garage from media and from fans has taken a hit. Personally, I won’t be able to look at him the same way as I once did, and this is something he will have to face from fans or other people who look like me.

  • “So, if he didn’t mean it in a bad way then what’s the matter with him saying it?” There is a huge problem with it.
  • “There are so many ways that this would have gone had he used the “a” approach of the word versus the hard “r” approach of this racial slur. There is a huge difference in both ways of it being said and it all points back to one thing.”
  • They’re both bad and still have demeaning roots originating from racism a long time ago.
  • “But it’s in music and movies though.”
  • Even so, music and movies use the “a” approach and not the “r” term. Honestly, the term needs to go away completely. It is unthinkable some people are still using a derivative of the term that led to so much racism and strife for generations of people today.

It’s not ok to say it. Yet, we expect it out of the hip-hop culture because we’re conditioned to accept it.

Bottom Line:

NASCAR has come a long way from its deep southern roots but is still very much southern. I’m proud to be a fan of NASCAR and to cover the sport as a member of the media. So, at the end of the day and I’m not going to stop being a fan of the sport just because of this incident.

What’s next?

The first step taken by Chip Ganassi to suspend Kyle Larson without pay was a good one. The second; taking Larson and suspending him indefinitely was good, as well. It shows that NASCAR has grown from its own past. And he will likely learn from a sensitivity course – we all could.

We need to look at this situation as a learning experience because it’s not ok to use the term, be it the “a” or hard “r” approach.

Should Larson lose his career because of this comfortable approach? 

The journalist in me says, “No.” Yes, I’m black but let us all remember how NASCAR driver Jeremy Clements was given another chance after using the term back in 2013. Flashing back to the ESPN story that was put up back then, NASCAR was quick to act on the situation and just like now, was quick to take action once again.

Let Larson complete the sensitivity training and let the fans and sponsors determine how they feel about him after that. A relatively simple solution granted but equally as fair as how similar cases have been handled in the recent past.

The African-American in me believes that Larson should also still be given a chance to pursue his career. Though, it all depends on how the fans and sponsors feel. There is going to be a fallout from this whole situation no matter how it’s handled. He’s been suspended by Chevrolet and his sponsors have denounced him. It’s just the beginning of what will be a long road forward from this situation.

It’s a first offense situation and one that has drawn a lot of ire. Let’s just hope Larson really is sorry and will not use or say that word again.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Darius Goodman is a Georgia-based minority journalist building his career in the world of motorsports. He is the former sports editor for Southern Community Newspapers, who became a free-agent sports editor/writer following the economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. He is a radio host on WDJY 99.1 FM and an avid gamer.

22 Comments

  1. Viper13

    April 13, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    Ok, this AA journalist said the n-word is disgusting and should not be used under any circumstances. Ok, then why isn’t there an outcry at all the AA comedians, AA movies etc. that.that disgusting word is used for them at each other and laughed at in comedy show and handshakes etc in movies??? If it’s DISGUSTING AND INTOLERABLE when used by a nonAA, and ok if one AA CALLS ANOTHER AA THAT. IS THAT NOT THE VERY DEFINITION OF RACISM AND BIGOTRY????….. SO EITHER IT’S BAD NO MATTER WHO USES IT OR GET THE HELL OVER IT, FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO BE OUTRAGED ABOUT, CAUSE THIS ONE IS BEING CALLED!!!

  2. B long

    April 13, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    Does sensitivity training actually do anything or just another way out of saying the N word . Racism is still alive in society

  3. sb

    April 14, 2020 at 1:42 am

    What troubles me is the casual use of this term which says to me that is not unfamiliar in his vocabulary. Personally, I can’t ever imagine using the term, no matter what. I’m not sure he sould lose his career over it, but for someone who is part of the minority in racing I would have hoped that he would be even more award of how harmful language like this can be.

  4. Frances Tullis

    April 14, 2020 at 3:02 am

    Could the intentions behind the word have been more like a cuss or swear word …Like so many times the word Son-Of-A-Bit-h has loosely been thrown around ‘ Without really meaning the mother is a big B ! While Larson potty mouth has to be reckoned with …I have to question did he drop it in the context of a cuss word or is he a real racist ? Either way it was a dumb and not a very nice thing to do !

  5. Whitey

    April 14, 2020 at 7:49 am

    let me be clear,i’m a white dude. watching an asian guy lose his JOB over using a word i hear 100 times a day from BLACK guys is HILARIOUS! continue!!!!

  6. Richard J Cosmillo

    April 14, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Kyle, good job apologizing that was the right thing to do but if you grew up in the south, you were probably raised with a negative attitude towards non whites and it’s probably not your fault. But now, your way older and smarter and I guess you learned the hard way saying the N***r word. Not everyone jives with every culture I dig that but saying a racial slur so everyone can hear it was kind of ridiculous and now you know how messed up it was. I’m fortunate, I grew up in a town with 50/50 black/white community and I’m blessed to tell you I’m better off today learning as a young kid interracial relationships and friendships are really cool. I’m sorry you may have grown up in the South looking up to your family or friends who were racist not your fault. But now, your way older and wiser so I hope you can see the Black community in a different light. Hey man, the Black community is way cool from music, Jazz, blues, art, culture all you have to do is realize it’s different from what you’re used to. I pray you get the gist of what I’m saying. The north is really hip I’m sure you’ve been to NYC you know what’s up around here. I know the South, I love the South, I love the Allman Brother Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charles Daniels it’s in my blood but I was fortunate to be raised around different cultures and I hope you can realize it would be beneficial for you to broaden your scope a bit to understand the Black community and realize there are good and not so good people in all races. For the life of me, I can’t understand the racism in the South still exists at a high level. Heck, I lived in Florida for 6 months back in the late ’90s and experienced racism because I’m from the Noth……being called a Yankee…..WTF? I can’t understand this BS and it will never stop but truthfully, people in the South in my opinion are narrow minded and will continue to be looked on as moronic and stupid in many ways because of their attitude towards non whites especially Blacks. Turn it around Kyle it’s time to realize being racist will only diminish yourself to others it will come back and bite you in your ASS real bad one day just like it now. Peace brother I’m a huge fan of yours but not NASCAR because of the plague of racism connected with that club.

  7. mdg1019

    April 14, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Oh gee, a NASCAR driver who’s a racist. Say it ain’t so. LOL

  8. jLat

    April 14, 2020 at 9:24 am

    In my opinion Mr. Goodman wrote an excellent, well balanced commentary about an extremely sensitive and horrid issue in America today. I saw the video where Kyle Larson uses the racial slur and I was as much taken aback by the slur as I was about the other drivers commentary to him after he said it. Instead of condemning his use of the slur they said “hey Kyle everybody can hear you”, instead of “hey Kyle that was absolutely wrong” instead the first words out of their mouth were to “warn” him. Right after that they say “just don’t say anything else” ….. I am white, and sadly this is no surprise to me as I have seen this on more than one occasion in my life. I have stated my displeasure in each instance and that hasn’t always turned out well for me. Mr. Goodman your name fits you well…

    • Red W Blue

      April 14, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      The other drivers are cognizant of the ugliness of the “n” word. Imagine if the Lord Jesus was as unforgiving, where would the human race be?

  9. Chieko

    April 14, 2020 at 9:27 am

    I’m half Japanese, born in Japan. I’ve experienced racism. My mother even more. Then N-word is not in my vocabulary so it could never accidentally slip out. Kyle screwed up. Very disappointed in him since he had such a good thing going. Trying to find new sponsors will be tough. Maybe back to dirt if they will have him.

  10. tooblindtosee

    April 14, 2020 at 9:54 am

    I agree with this post. many white athletes have used/ directed this word with gusto only to be given a smack on the wrist. like the post, I’m appalled the word is being used in any form. HipHop sanctioned/ or exploited it to make money and still do to this day. I cringe every time I hear it “a” or “r”. I see suffering people, hanging, butchered, raped, mutilated all while hearing this word. This fight to say the word because I’m black is rediculous and shameful, even said with love one can still hear the humiliating, denouncing, degrading tone….

  11. Darnell Davis

    April 14, 2020 at 11:42 am

    I am not a race car fan by any stretch of the imagination BUT I think Mr. Larson should be able to redeem himself. Once the suspension & the classes are completed, let him continue in his career. This one mistake should not define him. Hell, I never heard of the kid but from reading about him, Nascar and especially the U.S. needs him to succeed.

  12. Kanye East

    April 14, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    “It is unthinkable some people are still using a derivative of the term that led to so much racism and strife for generations of people today.”

    Man are you behind on your history! It was’t a “term” that did all that.

  13. jlat

    April 14, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Richard Cosmillo above is a good example of when people speak prejudicial and they don’t even know it. Giving advice to Kyle Larson about who black people are– and all he can say is, and I quote: “The Black community is way cool for music, Jazz, blues, art, culture all you have to do is realize it’s different from what you’re used to”. Blues and jazz music? You think that’s all the music black people are known for? And advising him that black people are just “different then you’re used to? Oh so every black person is the same? WTF dude?! then you have the unmitigated gaul to say— “Kyle, good job apologizing that was the right thing to do but if you grew up in the south, you were probably raised with a negative attitude towards non whites and it’s probably not your fault” well Richard whose the fu#k fault is it– again WTF dude look in the mirror. One last word from prejudicial Richard– “Not everyone “jives with every culture” I dig that but saying a racial slur “so everyone can hear it was kind of ridiculous”. —-Oh Richard so nice, I guess your saying Rich is– it’s ok if you say it wher only the boys hear it? You friggin closet raciest…as stated in my previous post, there are so many who just don’t get it and Richard is a good example. (as stated in my previous post I’m white and the Richards of the world are more dangerous than the ones who don’t try and disguise it…..

  14. Amex

    April 14, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    “why isn’t there an outcry at all the AA comedians, AA movies etc.”
    There is an outcry. @Viper13 must not be paying attention.

  15. Christy Cottrell

    April 14, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    Bubba Wallace referring to white driver as a CRACKER…is ok….ight! I got it now..thanks for the lesson in cultural diversity.

  16. AP

    April 14, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.” President Donald J. Trump; August 5, 2019.

  17. MAGAMan

    April 14, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    I say the word at least three times a day when I rub my nips and stroke a dribble outta my chub thinking about my heroes in blue spitroasting my yungest nefew!!!! KAG!!!! Rappers n coloreds say it all the time!!!! Whats the problem!!!! Stand up for the flag!!!!!! MAGA!!!!!!!

    Kyle I hope you and your family are okay. Be safe from the Chinavirus!!!!!

  18. Central Scrutinizer

    April 14, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    All you people who worry about a WORD being used are a bunch of weak-minded fools.

    Scum exists in all races. In the white race, we have white trash. In the black race, we have niggers. Yes, some black people are scum, and some white people are scum. The people who deserve respect are the people who have EARNED it.

    Bottom line : it’s just a word. Political correctness is embraced by idiots. Some of the worst racists I know would never use the word nigger, but you’d better believe they are thinking it.

    BOTTOM LINE : how people BEHAVE is what defines their quality as human beings. Scum don’t deserve respect, regardless of the color of their skin. And if you disagree you’re a clueless idiot who has led a sheltered life. Once your daughter has been raped or murdered, you WILL understand there are niggers in this world, regardless of what the ‘thought police’ want you to believe.

  19. Wah Zoo

    April 18, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    He grew up in Elk Grove, California. So there goes your theory about growing up in the south. But nice job at painting all southerners as racists.

  20. Tony Cooper

    April 19, 2020 at 1:30 am

    The ‘N’ word is just socially unacceptable.
    However, I doubt it there is just about anybody speaking the English language hasn’t used the word in either a derogatory or an attempted humorous way.
    Comedians spit it out like that is one of only 20 words in their entire vocabulary.
    It is not the word as much as the intent.
    Chastisement is easy to do. Forgiveness is a lot easier!!!!
    He was not screaming at a black person with a baseball bat
    in his hand with harm in his intent.
    It was a passive derogatory word used for lack of a better vocabulary.
    I feel sorry for all of the wrath that has fallen on him because of this.
    I am willing to forgive…..
    He brings a lot to our sport.
    He is still a kid!!!

  21. Klon

    May 17, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    I sincerely belive the “N” word and calls for punishment. But geez America, do we take all of Sean Combs, P.Diddy etc
    Money away or get fined every time “N….a Is used in their music. Oh HELL NO. Where is the insensitivity there. I don’t want to hear I’m gonns f..k my hoe, I’m a bad ass n….r. puleeze TRUE DIVERSITY goes for all races!!

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