Monday, June 23, 2008

Acting White: Me, NASCAR and 60,000 Good Ole Boys & Girls


Yesterday, my teenage daughter, son, and I were treated to our first NASCAR auto race, at Infineon Raceway. NASCAR is the acronym for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and is very popular with working-class Whites, especially in the southern states. So I guess this makes us black rednecks, or at least the r-word is what comes to people’s mouths when I say how I spent my Sunday.

Our host, surrogate Uncle Marc, is a good friend and lawyer who happens to be a Hummer-driving Asian-American, and an auto-racing, hunting, photography buff, and a closet do-gooder(my term). A bundle of uniqueness. His carbon footprint is definite, but his H2 knows an off-road butt-whupping or two; he only kills what he will eat; he digitizes the rest. All of this I can respect.

One friend commented wryly that I was really ‘acting white’. I took this to mean that my weekend crowd was suspect, but I reserve to differ. My son loves cars and racing, so until otherwise proven, these ARE his people. I fell out of my chair when my daughter, unprovoked, asked Uncle Marc if he could teach her how to ‘shoot’. This stuff is contagious! I guess I'm just the guy who teaches her Algebra, and lays awake at night.

My children may ultimately reject these new interests, but it will be of their own choosing, not mine. NASCAR may or may not make my son feel welcomed, but regardless, I will be there, with the aid of friends like Uncle Marc, to present him with a another door to explore. Regarding guns, my daughter will be eighteen next year, old enough fire a gun in war, like it or not she needs to know their safety, if but for avoidance. A helluva' weekend.

Elvis, a southern icon often accused of acting black, has left the building.

James C. Collier

P.S. Great Geico Nascar Commercial!

READ MORE ACTING WHITE...

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9 comments:

The Angry Independent said...

It's good that you are exposing your kids to a wider range of experiences. They will probably thank you later.

Unfortunately, to a lot of Blacks from the traditional "Black Community" this is seen as Acting White. But the stigma of participating in these events is slowly fading. Willy Ribbs and other Black racecar drivers are slowly tearing barriers down.

I don't know for sure how White NASCAR fans feel, but I imagine that with all of the other major sports becoming so homogenized, they see NASCAR as the last activity that is "theirs" in terms of what they identify with. But in time I hope that the race nonsense becomes less of a barrier.

I am sure that you got some strange looks from people at the event.

I'm also getting interested in activities/hobbies that are considered socially "off limits" to me because of my skin pigmentation.

Dennis Mangan said...

Jim: Next thing you know, your daughter will want a pickup truck and to learn how to use Copenhagen. ;-)

James C. Collier said...

Dennis: Funny you should mention this. I already said no spittin' and absolutely no tattoos.

Ochyming said...

There is nothing like HAVING a wide HORIZON to dream from!
Then NOTHING can STOP you!

I find it strange that there is a way of being 'BLACK' and that it sinks to superficial things.

Compare the interest of people like Sun Ra, Miles Davis with what drive Afro-American kids today, and those people back then where not "FREE"!

Brown Man said...

So long as you have a black fence around you, nothing else can get in. Open the gate. Better yet, tear the whole damn fence down.

White people's stereotypes are just as make believe as ours - there is nothing wrong with opera, or the rodeo, or skeet shooting.

As Southwest Airlines says "we are now free to move about the country".

Tam said...

All I can say is when I went to the Talladega 500 I had a blast! Although yeah I got the "ive always wanted a taste of brown suga" comments, we utterly enjoyed ourselves. People would ask me if it was my first race and who was I cheering for. I was even given the advice I needed to root for a good ol redneck, which was defined as someone who was down to earth and treated their fans nicely...

aicha said...

i've been thinking a lot about this since the formula one race here in barcelona two months ago, when some spanish fans showed up in blackface and afro wigs claiming to be relatives of black british rival lewis hamilton. soccer, which has been diverse in europe for so much longer, and has had more than its share of racism, now looks to be turning aggressively anti-racist thanks to thierry henry and friends. exposing your kids to the likes of NASCAR isn't only good for your kids, it's good for NASCAR.
que sigues adelante . . .

CeeCee said...

Did I say that I love this blog? Ah, yes, I did. So now I'll say that my son loves NASCAR too (thanks for letting me know what the acronym was) but since we're above the Mason/Dixon line, we don't know when he'll be able to see a race live.

eddygrrl said...

I took in my first motocross event a few months ago in Seattle and I absolutely had a blast. I have always poked fun at the motocross/supercross crowd as being the Linkin Park/rednecks version of NASCAR, but I love motorcycles so when Boyfriend got tickets I decided it was time to break down my own walls.
Intially I was a bit worried about who would be there (would I be the only black girl in the stands?) but when I looked around the me in the seats I certainly wasn't the only ONE and black people weren't the only "minority" in the crowd. What was really cool was how many familes were there - mom, dad, kids, couples, of a variety of races. Five minutes into the first races I wasn't remotely worried about race anymore.

Also, Boyfriend informed me smugly when we took our seats that one of the top motocross racers in the country is black.
-- Look up, James "Bubba" Stewart: He was the only rider to win all three AMA Lites titles (East, West and two National Championships)--
Just to show, never too old to relize your own barriers and break them down. Now I'm shopping for a dirt bike ;-)