Monday, October 28, 2013

NASCAR'S Drive For Diversity Picks A WInner

Years ago I saw a movie based on the life of Wendell Scott, the Jackie Robinson of American race car driving.  The movie, Greased Lightening, featured the late great comedian Richard Pryor as the mechanic/ former moonshine runner who'd fight racism to compete in the early NASCAR racing circuit.  I remember Pryor bringing a comic seriousness to the role, something that only Pryor could pull off.  

This weekend, almost 50 years from the day that Wendell overcame racism and prejudice to win his first major race, a black driver by the name of Darrell Wallace Jr. became the second NASCAR driver of color to win at the national level.

Ironically, it was due in part to Wendell Scott Jr. and the Drive for Diversity program, that Wallace would even be in the position to compete.  Hat's off to NASCAR for not only acknowledging a great professional driver in Wendell Scott the senior, but also for promoting diversity and making the dreams of many a child of color reachable through diversity programs and change in the culture of NASCAR.  The fact that its taken 50 years to get to this point is proof that the wheels of change move slowly, but with time they do move.  

Diversity in sports should be a lesson for diversity in all facets of life.  I don't understand how in 2013 some find it acceptable to play, watch or invest in sports that feature men of color yet those same persons couldn't bear living near, working under or socializing with a man or woman who's skin is of a darker pigmentation.  Our society is still working towards living the Martin Luther King dream of judging one by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. 

With the promotion of the NFL's "Why I Love Football" contest, the one that'll send some lucky sports fan to the Super Bowl, I wondered what if the question was posed to the professional football players of color. I'm sure a few would be forced to answer in truth that its been the one place in our society that their skills are accepted and applauded by all in spite of their color.  

Its taken time for the NFL to reach this point of color blindness, and as with all sports there's still room for improvement in diversity.  But again, its sure reassuring to know that the wheel of time turns attitudes and beliefs around, no matter how slowly. 

Let not the younger generation try turning back the hands of time.  It takes way too long and is much too painful overcoming the ignorance of prejudice and racism. Most importantly, prejudice and racism hinders childhood dreams of hope and can set off a ticking time bomb of hatred and despair. We owe it to our children to pass on the gift of diversity, as well as, warn about the devastation brought about by hatred. 

With courageous actions and unified strength, maybe we can diffuse some of today's explosive prejudicial beliefs that still linger from a society once segregated based on ideas of racial superiority and inferiority.

Drafting The Circuits: The Day I Met Wendell Scott

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