NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace is the only African American driver in the Cup Series and is very familiar with discrimination. He is being more vocal about systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis and is sharing stories from his past. This includes a previously-untold story about his cousin being shot.
Wallace explained the situation during a recent appearance on The Dale Jr. Download. He spoke about facing discrimination in his own life based on his appearance, as well as learning about his cousin's death. Wallace said that he was 8 years old at the time of the incident. He didn't understand it at the time due to being young, but it has come "full circle" now.
"He was 18, and they had gone to a gas station here in Knoxville, Tennessee," Wallace said. "[They were] playing loud music, a whole crowd — it was a hangout spot. After football games, we would go to McDonald's right here down the street and all hangout. I had the system in my car, so I was blasting music. But [I] never thought about that I was bothering somebody.
"Well the store clerk, who happened to be white, felt threatened that there was more African Americans and that something bad was going to happen, so she called the cops," Wallace continued. "The police officer had ordered my cousin Sean [sp] to put his hands up, and he did. Then that officer walked away, and he went to grab his phone to call his mom because he was scared and was shot and killed from the other police officer."
Wallace continued to explain that the entire situation happened because several African Americans were having a good time and were minding their own business, but someone was afraid of them. The NASCAR driver said that he didn't understand at the time why the clerk was afraid. Now that he is older, he has a clearer grasp of the situation.
The NASCAR driver has dealt with discrimination in his own life during certain interactions with law enforcement. This includes getting pulled over in his car and having the police officers ask, "can you afford this car? It's a nice car." Wallace said that he could have fired back and explained how much money he makes, but he remained silent. He knew that the interaction could have had a fatal result, especially considering that the police officers had their guns out of their holsters.