Anthony Anderson noted in his monologue on Tuesday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live that he’s been on the ABC talk show—guest and now guest host—over 40 times. That the Black-ish star’s been filling in for the vacationing Jimmy Kimmel for the first two live shows since Kimmel past penchant for NBA-related blackface comedy saw a contrite Kimmel apologizing for ever thinking that shit was okay hasn’t come up, somehow. (Billy Eichner takes over for the second pair of episodes this week.)
Still, if Kimmel’s pre-planned and probably fortunate summer-long vacation (he’s back in September) shakes things up at the show in the form of Anderson giving airtime to Black celebrities and politicians like co-star Tracee Ellis Ross, a COVID-stricken D.L. Hughley (he’s doing okay), Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and Tuesday’s guest, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, then let’s call it a happy coincidence. Especially as—for the non-NASCAR enthusiasts out there—Wallace is one of only a meager handful of Black drivers in NASCAR history, who just so happened to have a noose fashioned out of the rope used to yank open his car’s garage door.
Asked by Anderson about the obvious hate crime which—try to act surprised—Donald Trump has leapt on with a series of ill-informed, inflammatory, and downright fact-mangling statements, the 24-year-old Wallace noted, “There are so much more things that are going on in the world,” adding, “To be late to the party is one thing, to be wrong on the factual information is another.” As to what Trump and so-white-they’re-transparent apologists who claim that every door-pull is just shaped like that—even though no others were and the only noose was left for the only Black driver to find—Wallace calmly corrected the record for Anderson. No, he did. not report the noose to the FBI. (A Black team member found it, not telling Wallace about the incident because he didn’t want to “get [his] mind all messed up before the race.”)
As for Trump lumping NASCAR’s genuinely stirring (not to say historically surprising) support of Wallace in with the sport’s recent (also surprising) ban on the Confederate flag at NASCAR events as something he just can’t stomach, Wallace wasn’t talking. He did, however, talk feelingly about what it was like to have his all-white competitors walk his car to the starting line before his race at the Talledega Speedway following the incident. “That moment there broke me,” said Wallace (actual first name, Darrell) over a clip of him being comforted by his Richard Petty Motorsports leader, NASCAR legend Petty. Explaining that, like in all other sports, drivers maintain a competitive distance at times, Wallace said that it was inspiring that, in a sport that “a lot of people have their doubts about,” the gesture was a moment where everyone “let themselves be a human being.” Unless you’re Donald Trump, of course, who continues to be whatever he is.