Bubba Wallace has been in the news and trending on social media over the past few weeks-- but it’s not about his NASCAR career.
Unfortunately, the only Black driver in the sport’s Cup Series has had to react to a noose being found in his Talladega Superspeedway garage and demands from the president he apologize for being part of a “hoax” (which wasn’t a hoax) he had nothing to do with.
It’s this type of racism that Wallace has had to deal with all of his life, and during an interview with PEOPLE, he explained how haters have only fueled him to become better.
As a teenager, Wallace says he spent all of his free time competing at racetracks across the south and being a Black person in a predominately white sport with a very white fanbase hasn’t always been easy.
"Whenever I was younger, I never would understand it, but my parents would always just be like, 'You know what, don't mind that BS that's going on over there. Let's come back next week and beat their tails,'” he says. "And that's what we did. We'd come back and eventually shut them up. So, it's been like that ever since."
Wallace continued: "And now that I do understand it, I look at it and laugh and just think of where we're at in this world. Obviously it still goes on every day, but for people to use that as something to offend me, or affect me, or knock me off my block, that ain't going to happen. It only motivates me to do better."
Wallace – whose father is Darrell Wallace Sr., a white man, and his mother, Desiree Wallace, who is Black – says his parents always pushed him to speak out against wrongdoing he’s experienced.
"Yeah, for us, my dad was an eye for an eye guy," he explained. "He was all about being fair. ... But for me, it was always just doing the right thing."
And Wallace took the high road when Trump attacked him on Twitter. In a tweet made on July 6, he wrote "The next generation and little ones following my foot steps," Wallace wrote, "All the haters are doing is elevating your voice and platform to much greater heights... always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE! ... Even when it's HATE from the POTUS [president of the United States]."
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