Earlier this week, President Donald Trump demanded an apology from Bubba Wallace for supposedly perpetrating what he falsely labeled a hate-crime “hoax” after what looked a lot like a noose was found in the Black NASCAR driver’s garage stall.
Wallace responded on social media with a message of positivity and love, but he had a bit more to say when he appeared as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tuesday night.
Comedian and black-ish star Anthony Anderson, who was filling in as guest host for Kimmel, said, “As a kid growing up, not once did you ever think that you would gain the attention of the president of the United States of America, in a positive or negative way. What are your thoughts on how he’s come after you in the media, in the press and on social media because of what’s transpired so far?”
When he first saw Trump’s tweets, Wallace said he thought, “Man, there’s so many more things that are going on in the world that I feel like he should be worried about.”
“To be late to the party is one thing and to be wrong on the factual information is another,” he added. “But all in all, he did get one thing right: the great officials that continue to stand behind me, NASCAR drivers and officials that continue to stand behind me through it all. He got that part right.”
Wallace went on to clarify some misconceptions about the noose incident, including the fact that he was not even the one who found it in his garage. It was the president of NASCAR who brought it to his attention. “The first person I thought of when it was brought to my attention, that there was a noose found in my garage, was a crew member who happens to be African-American, on my team,” he said, explaining that it was that crew member who found the noose.
“Not once did I report it,” Wallace said. “I didn’t even see the picture of the noose, or the garage pull until Tuesday after the race, after I’m already home, after my second phone call with the FBI. So I did not report it. I just was told about it and next thing you know, one thing led to another.”
In his tweet, Trump seemed to suggest that Wallace’s teammates and fellow drivers rallied around him under false pretenses, but both Anderson and Wallace recognized that it was a “powerful” moment whether the noose was deliberately left in his stall or not.
“Obviously, you can see the emotion,” he said. “I tried to walk out before that moment. I had just a ton of positive energy. And then that moment there broke me and just totally put me in my feels. And it just showed the power and the unity, the love, compassion, understanding that we all have for one another.”
“In that moment there, everybody let their guard down or let themselves be a human being and show their human being side,” he continued. “I thought that was pretty powerful to show the world that our sport can come together, the sport of NASCAR, where a lot of people have their doubts about, that we show this type of unity and love and understanding. And that everybody can do the same thing, so I thought that was so strong and so impactful.”