Rajah Caruth’s historic NASCAR win is a feel-good story we should all celebrate

Rajah Caruth’s historic NASCAR win is a feel-good story we should all celebrate

It’s simple. Since America loves an underdog, America should be applauding Rajah Caruth.

Over the weekend, the 21-year-old made history by winning the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “What a massive win for the little bro! What a monumental win for our sport! Proud is an understatement! LFG!!!!!!!,” Bubba Wallace posted to social media.

“Incredible. Good job,” added Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Caruth now stands with Hall of Famer Wendell Scott and Wallace as the only Black drivers to win a NASCAR national series race. “It’s surreal,” he said in his post-race interview. “Glad to get the win for team Chevy, can’t thank my family enough. So many people helped me to get to this point. I can’t believe it.”

“I stayed cool. We lost track position in little portions of the race and we stayed in the game. My guys got me a great stop and we just executed. There’s more to come for sure.”

Caruth is in his senior year at Winston-Salem State, a Historically Black College and University, and the alma mater of ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. He’s also a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, adding more impact to his win in an anti-DEI America. “NASCAR Diversity & Inclusion strives to create an inclusive environment in all facets of the NASCAR industry recognizing the value of diversity, which allows us to go faster and farther in our workplaces, at the race track and in the stands,” reads the program’s motto.

Given the sport, Caruth’s win showed what can happen when “others” are given a chance. This is NASCAR, a place where diversity is greatly needed. In 2020, Kyle Larson, who’s half-Japanese, was suspended for using the N-word during a virtual racing event. “You can’t hear me? Hey, [N-word],” said Larson when he lost communication with his spotter on his headset during the event. Larson is also a graduate of the diversity program. And then came Noose-gate and the banning of the Confederate Flag.

And given the moment, Caruth’s win was a breath of fresh air. Recently, Emmitt Smith blasted his alma mater on social media as the University of Florida fired its entire DEI department last week — 13 employees.

“I’m utterly disgusted by UF’s decision and the precedent it sets,” he wrote. “Without the DEI department, the job falls on the Office of the Provost, who already has their hands full, to raise money for the university and continue to advance the academic studies and athletic programs.

“We cannot continue to believe and trust that a team of leaders all made up of the same background will make the right decision when it comes to equality and diversity. History has already proven that is not the case.”

The decision from Florida came not too long after Birmingham (Ala.) Mayor Randall Woodfin made news by tweeting that he would, “Have no problem organizing Black parents and athletes to attend other institutions outside of the state where diversity and inclusion are prioritized.”

In a time in which the anti-DEI movement is growing, and in a moment in which politics and sports are bleeding over the lines into each other, a historic win in NASCAR just took place showing why diversity is so important and needed. There’s a reason only three Black drivers have ever won in NASCAR, and it’s not because Black people don’t have the talent or desire to participate in the sport. It’s because we were historically kept out and made to feel unwanted.

Caruth is proof of what diversity, equity and inclusion actually look like. An underdog athlete shocking the world in a country that historically loves when that happens.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.