The country has been gripped for nearly two weeks by civil unrest and protests after the murder of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minn. All four officers involved in his death have since been fired and charged.
Bubba Wallace, the only African-American driver who competed full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, has expressed frustration that more of his fellow drivers don’t speak out.
Johnson, who owns a NASCAR record-tying seven Cup series titles, said he was moved to speak out but said it’s been a learning experience for himself as well.
“I was definitely pulled to making statements and wanted to share my point of view. I feel like in my position and who I am as an individual, I want to have a voice and I want to stand up for injustices. So, I’ve been trying to find my voice,” Johnson said Friday.
“I think part of that journey is to educate myself. I’ve been very deep in that and trying to learn and educate – on the phone with friends of mine, like Bubba Wallace, other friends of color and race that I’ve known through the years just checking in.
“To learn and understand just how far and wide my friends have dealt with issues is helping me find my voice and have clarity in the situation and all the noise that’s out there.”
It hurts to see our country being torn apart by racism & hate. I can’t pretend to understand what black men & women have experienced but I can speak out & condemn racial inequality. I hope love for all mankind can prevail & make changes to build a better future for our children pic.twitter.com/ciLHHAhlDn— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) June 1, 2020
Johnson admits getting involved in the public discourse is challenging, both because of the topic involved and because the reluctance of some fans to see politics spill over into sports.
“It’s a sensitive topic, but I think you’ve got to follow your heart and post what you believe in. It’s hard to live your life worrying about other people. You have to let your passions in your life shine through and the things that you believe in,” he said.
“You need to follow that. And for me, ultimately, I’ve felt the need to have a voice in this and I’m still trying to find that voice. So, I’m being pulled this way more than I have in other times and there’s just something inside of me that makes me feel like I need to do it.”