Born on the rural roads of the Carolinas as a way for bootleggers to measure their back roads driving skills and prowess, stock car racing is as ingrained in the Southern rural culture as grits and red eye gravy.
As the decades have passed and NASCAR has become a billion dollar industry with fans in areas of the country known for things other than the 'Stars and Bars' and pickup trucks, the spinsters and marketers of the organization have tried hard to change the image.
We've been led to believe that watching men drive in a circle for 5 hours on a Sunday is 'mainstream'. We've been told that the thrill of the race isn't just the speed (which is debatable, if you have been to Martinsville or Bristol, anyway), but the strategy. We've been told that these men who sit in a car turning left for 5 hours are 'athletes' and that it takes measurable stamina and strength to perform as they do.
We've been told that it is an American sport, through and through. The NASCAR crowd is middle America. It is hot dogs, Mom and apple pie.
Well, now it seems that this may not be the case. It seems that the sport that originated in the South and is now revered by some as a means to uphold and propagate 'Southern' traditions, may be a hot bed for.........intolerance.
The 32-year-old Grant, who is black, worked as a technical inspector responsible for certifying cars in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series from January 2005 until her termination. In the lawsuit, she alleged she was referred to as "Nappy Headed Mo" and "Queen Sheba" by co-workers, was often told she worked on "colored people time" and was frightened by one official who routinely made references to the Ku Klux Klan.
For the uninitiated, 'colored people time' (or cpt) is meant as a disparaging reference to insinuate that Ms. Grant didn't work full days and was not punctual.
Despite this culture of intolerance, prejudice and out right antagonism, Ms Grant liked her job.
"I loved it. It was a great, exciting, adrenaline-filled job where I worked with fast cars and the best drivers in the world," Grant told The Associated Press. "But there was an ongoing daily pattern [of harassment]. It was the nature of the people I worked with, the people who ran it, it trickled down from the top.
Some of the allegations are astounding, if not unexpected.
Grant was forced to work outside more often than the white male officials because her supervisors believed she couldn't sunburn because she was black.
While riding in the backseat of her car pool at Talladega Superspeedway, co-workers told her to duck as they passed race fans. "I don't want to start a riot when these fans see a black woman in my car," she claims one official said.
When packing up a dark garage at Texas Motor Speedway an official told Grant: "Keep smiling and pop your eyes out 'cause we can't see you."
"Does your workout include an urban obstacle course with a flat-screen TV on your back?" she claimed Balash asked her during the week of July 28, 2007, while working in Indianapolis.
Now, all this would be funny in a Dave Chapelle sketch.
But, when it happens while you are at work, there is nothing funny about it.
Certainly, we recognize that Ms. Grant has been wronged. And, more certainly, punishment must come to the offenders.
But, common sense and righteousness must prevail.
We would proffer that Ms. Grant should never have taken the job in the first place. Clearly, a Negro woman working in what is essentially a large scale KKK meeting is not a good idea.
When one accepts employment, one also accepts the certain obvious dangers involved. If she had been hired by a circus to walk a tight rope, and fell and broke her legs, would anyone be the least bit surprised?
That is essentially what happened here. Ms. Grant picked up a stick and poked a bear.
We are talking about NASCAR! What sane Negro would accept employment with them and not expect to be maligned, mistreated, harassed, shamed, whipped, shackled and eventually lynched?
While we do support Ms. Grant's request for over $200M, we must admonish her for her lapse in reason, judgment and understanding of human nature.
And, while we know that her treatment should have been expected; we also know it was not right.
Therefore, NOIS announces that for the rest of this season, we will not be making anymore NASCAR posts.
Additionally, we will be organizing a Nation-wide Negro boycott of all NASCAR events. It will be called the Great Oh Eight NASCAR Black-out.
Together, we can hit them in their wallet and make it hurt.