NASCAR Fans Just Can’t Let Go Of The Past

In the latest case of certain Americans not being able to relinquish the past and denounce the racism of their forefathers, NASCAR fans say that the confederate flag is an important part of their history.

At one time, the Confederate flag was as much a part of the NASCAR landscape as hot finish line girls rocking Daisy Dukes and cowboy hats.

Confederate emblems, signs, attire and celebrations were a part of NASCAR’s packaged presentation for decades. It spoke to their target audience. Confederate flags of various designs and in multiple numbers still fly over race infields and campgrounds, particularly at Southern tracks.

These symbols are considered “important” to certain people because it is a part of their culture. To supporters of confederacy, condemning these symbols is akin to admitting that their forefathers were scumbags. To many of them, a confederate flag doesn’t represent racism, just a way of life in America.

Will Cain reacts to NASCAR fans saying Confederate flag is important symbol | First Take | ESPN

Will Cain joins First Take to react to NASCAR fans saying that the Confederate flag is still an important symbol.

Still, doesnt make it right.

People of color and informed American citizens are against these confederate flags and statues and the vile history they represent. Most can see no way to find pride in something so destructive and oppressive, even if it is a part of history.

Its a part of history that should be taught and forgotten as we move towards a more unified, fair and equal existence, where one group no longer dominates every aspect of society and freely discriminates against good, capable people.

There still remains a last bastion of Americans, many in NASCAR, that want to hang onto the symbols of confederacy and present it as something honorable. The executive branches of NASCAR seem to understand what the flags represent to most Americans.

According to USA Today, NASCARs push toward diversity in recent years led chairman Brian France to call the flag an offensive symbol in 2015 and ask for but not require its removal from speedways. Some tracks offered a flag exchange, giving United States flags to fans who turned in Confederate flags.

Kevin Castle on Twitter

Bristol Motor Speedway joins fellow NASCAR tracks in asking for ban on Confederate flag at their facilities. #FM929

Theres still resistance to this request by some stubborn old schoolers who cant accept the fact that the flag doesn’t mean the same to their kids as it did for them during another time in this country. Two years after France’s request, the defiant confederacy rolls on.

Also per USA Today, this
weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in eastern Tennessee, fans were in full swing celebrating their confederate roots, despite a national outcry to put an end to these symbols and celebrations of past oppression.

In the campgrounds ringing Bristol speedway, Confederate flags continue to fly from recreational vehicles and above tents, although the number as at most NASCAR tracks is significantly lower than a decade ago.

Along one row of 55 RVs and campers in a campground adjacent to the track, a flag count included three Ohio State Buckeyes flags and two Confederate flags.

Im still flying mine, Chattanooga fan Brian Ellis told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday of his Confederate flag. It means something important to me a part of my heritage because my relatives fought under it. Nothing the president or anybody else does or doesnt do is going to change that.

Some members of white supremacist groups carried Confederate flags at the Charlottesville rally, and various forms of the flag have been used at other protests, but those actions were labeled as irrelevant by some fans at Bristol.

I understand that the flag means different things to different people, Nancy Cullers, a Clint Bowyer fan from Franklin, Tenn., told USA TODAY Sports. She wore a Confederate bandana while cleaning her RV near the track Friday.

Its crazy that some of those groups use the flag, and I dont like any of them, she said. But that doesnt mean they can take it away from those of us from the South who love it. To me, its just a Southern thing that we can rally around.

At the heart of the problem is that most Americans simply dont like to be told what to do. They dont like being told that what they celebrate and that which has generated family pride for them for decades is now considered bad. It must mean they are bad people in some way and that doesn’t sit well with anyone.

Beyond that, the cultural racism in this country that is tied to sports, politics, education and opportunity, will make the battle to erase confederate pride, which is essentially a celebration of slavery, a task that may never be accomplished.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.