Both NASCAR and President Barack Obama have something in common. Both are misunderstood because of groundless, long held stereotypes.
There is no question that President Obama has been viewed by some as a polarizing force, though not by his own deeds. Often times, President Obama is being judged by a perception of him--manifested by systemic racism and bigotry--as the first African-American to serve in the nation's highest office. He has undergone scrutiny from members of the black and white communities, progressive and conservative political bases, as well as by members of his own party.
NASCAR has suffered some of the same kinds of stereotypical misconceptions. There are some who believe NASCAR isn't even a sport. While admittedly racing around a track does not involve a ball or stick like baseball or football its players are athletes just the same. NASCAR can stack up with any nine-innings on a diamond or four quarters on the gridiron. It takes physical endurance to drive 500 white-knuckle miles on a short track, for instance. It is not an easy feat to change four tires, fill a car with gas, and make chassis adjustments in under 13 seconds, which is a typical pit stop. Yet, NASCAR critics claim the sport is nothing more than a bunch of rednecks making left turns. They have obviously never watched a race!
It is ironic that NASCAR and President Obama should be victims of stereotypes, albeit on opposite sides.
The crowd that supports Obama likely consists of the same folks who know nothing about NASCAR, its drivers, crews, teams, or the rich history rooted in American ingenuity.
Likewise, supporters of NASCAR, many of whom hail from the southern states, include tea party patriots who despise this president for no better reason than their own misguided sense of self-prescribed morality. An intelligent black man is just not in their level of understanding or tolerance.
I happen to fall on the side that supports both my president and my favorite sport. I love NASCAR. I voted for President Obama and plan to vote for him again.
For me, it was a pleasure to see President Obama greet Tony Stewart and the other eleven of NASCAR's best drivers, on the south lawn of the White House Tuesday. While supporters of each may think these two have as little in common as the two sides of the aisle in Congress, that is not necessarily the case. They don't have to be the odd couple. In fact, perhaps we have witnessed history here.
It was nice of the President to reach out to NASCAR just as it was when the First Lady attended last year's race at Homestead.
I challenge supporters of both President Barack Obama and NASCAR to reach beyond your own limitations. Consider that President Obama and Tony Stewart are symbolic of a country that is in dire need of coming together again; to reunite the United States of America.