I do not know Kyle Larson. I am not a fan. I do not follow him. In fact, I seldom pay attention to NASCAR. But, headlines made me read about an incident and I feel a need to add my 2 cents.
I listened to the recording. I listened again and again. My wife, who has much better hearing, listened as well. While not totally clear, what we heard ended with an ‘a’, not the ‘r’ being reported everywhere.
For years blacks have referred to each other, and themselves as ‘nigga’. In rap songs, and in casual conversations you can hear it. They accept the usage by blacks, but, unless you are on a very friendly, accepted, basis with a black person, a non-black had better not utter that word ever. However, if you are accepted, your use of the word is also accepted.
Again, I’ll restate: I do not know Kyle Larson. I do not know his mind, nor his biases. I have no idea if he is a racist. I do not know if he is not. But, since I don’t know him, you probably do not know him either. This means that his usage and the difference between “a” and ‘r’ are very significant. Who he was speaking to is significant as well. If speaking to a non-black and using an ‘a’ and someone that he knew well, it should be a no harm, no foul situation. If speaking to a black under the same circumstances, it should also not be an issue.
To allow such talk between blacks, but condemn the word if non-blacks use it, in and of itself, is racist.
Until we know the facts behind the use of the word and the actual word itself, we really need to stand back. He’s paid a very big price for the perceived offense. It will likely cost him his entire career. That’s a big price indeed.