(I probably shouldn’t be writing this, but I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. So here we are. It seems that every time I post something, I end up making someone upset. So now, I just go along for the ride after I hit ‘publish’.
But that’s why I have a blog…)
I get it. 2020 has been a crazy year.
I know that everyone has been dealing with being stuck inside, the shutdown of their country and the related pandemic in different ways.
However, “being yelled at by ignorant white people about how ‘racism is a myth on Facebook’ ” was not on my bingo card. I’m going to call a spade, a spade. It’s hasn’t been fun.
Since the COVID pandemic started, we’ve all been aware of the conversation around the world related to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, and the challenges of systemic racism in America. I’d like to call what’s been happening lately, a cocktail of awareness, anger, frustration and ignorance.
(Mostly ignorance. )
As time has gone on, I’ve started to speak out more about what my own personal black experience has been, hoping to spread some awareness and initiate conversation.
Most of the time, I’d try to keep it within the realm of motorsport, so that the people that I spend most of my time talking with, would have some common ground to start.
I thought if I talked about my experiences more, with people that I thought were my peers, we could start developing more of an empathic understanding of what’s going on in the world.
(It’s worked, somewhat, but it’s also been entirely horrible.)
I’ve had some really good conversations with some really good people. At the same time, I’ve also encountered more ignorant resistance (than I’ve ever thought possible), from people who are a combination of the following:
- Believe that systemic bias/systemic racism doesn’t exist
- Are just straight racist, whether they know it or not
- Don’t know what it’s like to be black
(I really shouldn’t have been that surprised, but I guess I’m more disappointed than anything.)
For a while, I was fine (No, I wasn’t’) with the level of ignorance that I would encounter. It would happen here and again, and I’d just laugh it off with my actual friends that ‘so and so’ is racist and stupid.
Every once in a while, my Facebook wall will spawn a horrible Trump thread, where I’ll make a general comment about his policy, and then I’ll get called stupid by people who I barely talk to.
(It’s funny in a morbid way.)
But after a while, the the level of ignorance I’d encounter started to ramp up again to a worrying and stressful level. People would be messaging me with DM’s saying that the reason that was promoting ‘so and so’ black person or ‘such and such’ black cause, was because I hated white people.
(Which is just stupid. Unbelievably stupid. I have a right to be able to state my opinions about something that I care about, especially when my opinions about being a black person doesn’t take anything away from anyone else. )
What made me really sad, is that these people started to make me feel like they were trying to drive a wedge between me and motorsport. Sometimes, when talking with my wife about it, we’d wonder if really going to some race events would actually be safe to be around certain people.
(When your chosen hobby is flying around the track at unsafe velocities, you don’t want to hang out with people that you’re unsure if they’d care if you crash, just because they disagree with you.)
Then that made me mad. Really, really mad.
This is my life. – (Apparently, I did a blog post about this back in 2011…)
I’ve spent the last 13 or so years, trying to find ways into motorsport as amature hobbyist. I enjoy racing. I like doing some club level coaching. I’ve had a great time helping people get better and enjoy our sport more.
I’m not trying to be a professional driver, and learn a living racing. I’m going to earn my money doing something else. I just want to learn to be the best driver that I can, and enjoy developing my technique.
My motivation has always been to get into the coolest machinery that I can afford, race people and have fun.
To me, my world in racing has been a space that I’ve created myself. My parents supported me emotionally, but every dollar that I’ve spent toward racing, I’ve earned myself.
Racing should be my safe space, where I get away from the bullshit of the working world, and challenge myself because I want to.
(Not challenge myself, because I have to deal with ‘surprising levels of racism’.)
I’m not going to let people like that drive me away from my space, from my world.
So what have I been doing?
I really just needed a break from a group of people that I’ve been calling ‘Stupid Facebook’.
I haven’t really been able to go racing, because of the pandemic, and therefore I haven’t been able to blow off any steam with my usual coping mechanism of driving around a racetrack.
At first, I tried to deal with it by throwing myself into my work, which seemed to help for a little while. I wasn’t racing, but I also wasn’t dealing with racists. But after a while, it just made me feel like I was hiding.
(I’m not wired to deal with people like that, and not stand up for myself.)
I’ve started sim-racing more. It is fun, and it has been a really interesting way to connect with different people outside of my local community. Also, it’s racing, so it’s a step in the right direction.
Staying off Facebook, kinda…
I started to spend more time on Twitter, which surprisingly for me is much less hostile. I’ve been helping to create a motorsport book club, which I’ve found to be amazing therapeutic, and I’ve been podcasting more.
Volunteering my time with the right people.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned this year, it’s the importance of ensuring that people appreciate your time, especially when you’re volunteering.
This year, I’ve actually found myself stepping away from several volunteer projects that I’ve been apart of, because the people that I thought I was helping either were taking advantage, or didn’t show the appreciation for the hard work that I was putting in.
It’s been really good for my mental health to take time for myself, and really focus on working with groups that I feel like that I’m providing some impact.
Next season, I’m going to focusing on myself more as a driver, and only volunteering on key projects that I think will provide significant value, rather than just hoping people see what I bring.
Enter: Driven by Diversity.
A few months ago, I got connected with Driven by Diversity, a diversity and inclusion organization designed to encourage more diversity within motorsport, and reduce unintentional systemic biases in our sport.
I got an opportunity to be on their podcast series, where I talked about some of the work that I’ve done with the Kartpulse forums, my thoughts about diversity challenges in motorsports. It was a nice opportunity to elaborate deeper into my thoughts from a podcast that I did on ‘On the Rhoad’.
I also helped them with a collaboration with another partner of mine, Studio Rhoad, developing a variation of our (Not) Famous Racing Driver shirt, with a (Not) Female Racing Driver shirt, promoting more gender equality in motorsport – If you want to buy one to support the collaboration, here is a link to the (Not) Famous Racing Driver online store.
I’ve been volunteering some of my consulting brain-power to help them where I can. Their organization has a strong message, and being involved in some small way, make me feel like I’m doing something positive to fight ‘Stupid Facebook.’
Getting back on track
I’ve also been working on my 2021 sponsorship program. I need to get back on a racetrack. I need to get things back on track.
I’ve been focusing on some of my time working with the Racing Mentor program, mentoring others to develop their own sponsorship approaches. It’s been really helpful to get myself back in the game, but also contribute in others success.
I’ve got this plan to go on a micro content karting campaign next year, but I need to raise the budget to be able to practice more often and make all of the races. The last few years have been steady adulting, getting married and etc., so its about figuring all of that out now.
I want to go for a regional title challenge next year, where I can make all of the races and do all of the testing that I need to to prepare.