"No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race," Bubba Wallace said

By Gabrielle Chung
June 09, 2020 04:24 PM
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Bubba Wallace
| Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace is pushing for change.

Just after wearing an "I Can't Breathe" shirt to a race in the wake of George Floyd's death, Wallace, 26, called for the removal of Confederate flags flying at race tracks across the country.

"No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race," Wallace, who is the only black driver in the Cup Series, told CNN on Monday. "So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them."

Though the Alabama native wasn't bothered by seeing Confederate flags at first, he said that he now understands why the symbol makes some people uncomfortable after "diving more into it" and educating himself.

Bubba Wallace at Sunday's race
| Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty

Wallace added that he knows some fans may be upset with his opinion, but he firmly believes that taking down Confederate flags from tracks will be the right step for the NASCAR community.

"There's going to be a lot of angry people that carry those flags proudly but it's time for change," he said in the interview with CNN. "We have to change that, and I encourage NASCAR to have those conversations to remove those flags."

"We should not be able to have an argument over that," he continued. "It is a thick line we cannot cross anymore."

A spokesperson for NASCAR did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

On Sunday, NASCAR president Steve Phelps vowed to better address racial injustices during a speech at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in Atlanta.

"Our country is in pain, and people are justifiably angry, demanding to be heard," Phelps said, according to ESPN. "The black community and all people of color have suffered in our country, and it has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport must do better. Our country must do better."

"The time is now to listen, to understand and to stand against racism and racial injustice," Phelps continued. "We ask our drivers ... and all our fans to join us in this mission, to take a moment of reflection, to acknowledge that we must do better as a sport, and join us as we now pause and take a moment to listen."

Phelps also participated in a call-to-action video featuring Wallace and other drivers that was played during his speech.

Wallace shared the clip on his Twitter, writing in the caption, "We will listen and learn! #BlackLivesMattters."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.