Updated: Mar 18, 2021
This day and age we see it everywhere. We see it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and most of all, we see it in the National media. Cancel Culture is alive and well, and a lot of it's victims deserve to be forgotten. A lot of its victims deserve to be ridiculed and have their names blasted in a negative light for all eyes to see. However, some don't.
We have heard it since the day that we could comprehend speech and lessons. Things like "everybody makes mistakes", or "we aren't perfect, we are human". Making a mistake, and sometimes saying things that you don't mean, is part of being alive and we can't change that. Forgiveness is also part of being a Human. They go hand in hand, and I think a lot of people have forgotten that.
Kyle Larson: Yep, he did that.
By now, if you are reading this, you probably know the story. Kyle Larson was running a race online, and dropped a racial slur. Yep, he did that. Ask him and he will tell you. He said the forbidden word that you are absolutely not permitted to say EVER, no matter what color your skin may be. A word that has a lot of negative history in America, and the word that is very hurtful to many people. I'm not going to get into the semantics of "it's okay if it ends in an 'A'", or "don't you dare say that with a 'hard-R'". To me, its never acceptable, and I wish no one on Earth would say it, but that's just my opinion.
Yes he did that. Yes he was wrong. Now I could dive deep into the details and whether he was saying it with hate (which he wasn't), or if he was speaking to a black man or woman when he said it (which he wasn't). However, I'm not here to give my opinion on those sorts of issues, not this early in the blog.
Yes he did that. He said the forbidden word to some of his buddies while racing online. Kyle Larson pushed a button to key up his microphone, and willingly said a word that is so hurtful to many of our Human brothers and sisters. Someone was streaming him while he said it, and within hours, the video clip was blasted all over the internet, and you guessed it. Larson was on the frontlines of cancel culture, but on the wrong side of it all.
Now, many big name celebrities have said stupid things, crawled into a hole, and have never been seen again. Some have fought and clawed to plead their case of innocence or ignorance. Some have flat out committed suicide, or drank/drugged themselves into oblivion. Kyle Larson didn't do that.
Back to His Roots
Kyle Larson is a young, California kid, who grew up idolizing Jeff Gordan, Kasey Kahne and other NASCAR drivers. He also grew up idolizing the drivers of the World of Oultaws 410 Sprint Car Series. To make a long story short, his parents bought him a go-kart, and he started winning. Larson worked his way up to sprint cars quickly and was getting a shit load of attention on the West Coast. He was winning a lot of races and he was only 16 years old.
As someone who is located on the East Coast, I didn't follow a lot of Larson's career until he started to break into the lower series of NASCAR. One of my earliest memories of Kyle was when they decided to build that stupid little short track on the apron at Daytona to run K&N cars, late-models, and modifieds. Larson won a couple races that year at Daytona's Speedweeks and really put himself on the map.
I say all of that to say this, in a racing world where "Daddy's money" and marketing prowess are pretty much the only way that you can get into the top series, Kyle Larson did it the opposite way.
Yes he did that. Kyle Larson worked his way up through the ranks on pure talent, and a lot of it. If you've seen Larson in front of a camera, he isn't always the most politically correct interview. He doesn't always pretend to be happy when things don't go his way. He doesn't always get on his knees and kiss everyone's ass that got him to where he is today. He doesn't do all of that because his talent and hard work got him to where he is, and Daddy's money ran out a long time ago.
Doing What He Loves
After Larson's internet screw up, his NASCAR sponsors dropped him and he lost his ride at Chip Ganassi Racing. He lost a good ride, and he knew it. Larson went radio silent for a couple months (it was at the height of the pandemic) and collected his thoughts. The California raised, dirt track kid decided that instead of running and hiding, he was going to have fun again. He was going to go to place where he knew he was welcomed no matter what, the dirt track.
Yep he did that. Larson went on to rack up over 80 wins on dirt in 2020, during a global pandemic. He went on some crazy streak of top six finishes that had never been done before, on any racing surface. He knew that above all else, that racing was supposed to be fun, and he had lost that aspect on asphalt with Chip Ganassi.
Now don't get it twisted, Larson wasn't just racing and having fun again in hopes to someday be back on the top of the racing spectrum. He was putting in hard work to learn and educate himself on African American culture and to understand why what he said was so wrong and why it hurt so many people. My favorite thing about this, was that we didn't hear a lot about it from Larson. He kept his head down and concentrated on what was important.
Many people that are wrapped up in cancel culture will say that Larson was only doing these things to make himself look good. They will state that he had to do all of this for publicity and to right the ship of his suddenly unknown career path. I am sure that his career had something to do with all of the hard work he put in. I'm sure that he had publicists and PR guys telling him that he had to get out there and make himself look like he had changed. However, I am willing to bet that he did a lot of learning and growing up while on the path to being a better person. What else can you ask for?
Fast forward really quick to Kyle Larson's first cup win since he met his demise last year. Yep, he did that. He won a race in his fourth start with a new car, a new team, and a new crew chief. Many will never understand how hard that is to do, but he did that.
After his win, many drivers such as Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and even NASCAR's lone full-time African American race car driver Bubba Wallace congratulated him and had nice things to say about Larson. That goes to show you that even they believe that he made a mistake, and that its okay to forgive someone for screwing up.
Before you cancel me for writing a blog that supports Kyle Larson and the steps he has made to climb back to the top of the racing ranks, let me at least give my honest opinion on how I feel about the situation from start to finish. I'm sure that some of you will still want to cancel me.
Kyle Larson fucked up. There's no way around that, he knows it, and so do we. However, I am not a judge, and I have made my fair share of mistakes. Shit, I have made plenty of mistakes that have hurt people that were far closer to me than most of the hurt individuals were to Larson. However, I am not on a National stage, and I understand the difference.
I would also like to admit that I wasn't always someone who was always "racially educated". I am from a small Pennsylvania town that had very few ethnicities other than the whitest of the whites. With that being said, I have never been prejudice or racist toward anyone, and I don't believe that Larson has been either, but I still have a lot to learn, we all do.
With that being said, I was brought up to respect people, and to be accountable for my own actions. As I stated before, I have done things that have hurt people, but I have also done all that I could to right the ship and make it up to them. Accountability is something that I believe Kyle Larson has shown since he made the mistake. He has never blamed anyone but himself, and he has never made an excuse. He owned up to issues and worked hard to fix them.
Kyle Larson was wrong. He made a huge mistake, and he said something that was really bad. Not only was what he said a huge mistake, he said it in a way that would make someone think that he uses that word freely and often, and that is a huge problem. However, its a problem that can be fixed, as long as the person is willing to be accountable and remorseful for the mistake that was made. I would be willing to bet that not a single person reading this knows Kyle Larson personally.
Yep he did that, but lets move on from it. I was mad at Larson when he made this mistake. He is a race car driver that I really enjoy watching, and I don't know if I want to watch NASCAR without Kyle Larson. I was pissed because for my entire life, I have been called a redneck, and told that NASCAR fans are all a bunch of racist whites, and I knew this wouldn't help. However, I think he did a lot for this fanbase. In his own mistake, he has brought to light a lot of issues that NASCAR has had and they are now trying to fix them. I can't be the only NASCAR fan that gets sick of being lumped in with "racist rednecks" just because I love the sport.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I appreciate the support more than you will ever know, and I plan on pumping out as many blogs as I can in my free time. All of my blogs are my opinions. Sometimes we will disagree, but the beauty of being Human Beings is that we are all different. We all have different upbringings, feelings, and views of right and wrong. That's okay. As long as we all respect each other, it will all be alright.
Be on the lookout for more blogs including my picks for Atlanta in the next couple of days. We are also still working out the details of our eventual podcast and will keep you all posted on how it's going as soon as we know.
Thank you!!! God Bless.