The FBI has ruled NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, who found a noose in his garage at the Talledega Superspeedway, was not the target of a hate crime.

The 15-member team of special agents found the rope had been in the stall since October; therefore, the rope, which was fashioned into a noose, was not a racist object but a handle for the garage door. Wallace is the only black driver in NASCAR.

“The FBI learned that garage No. 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. ... Although the noose is now known to have been in garage No. 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage No. 4 last week,” a statement from FBI Special Agent Jonnie Sharp said.

We hope the investigation got to the truth and the noose was not a message to Wallace, who has been in the spotlight recently for successfully requesting the Confederate flag be banned from NASCAR. From the show of support he received from fellow drivers over the weekend, NASCAR was happy to oblige: fellow drivers showed their support of Wallace by surrounding his car to walk with him on the track.

On social media, some comments have shrugged off the discovery of the noose as “another hoax.”

In fact, it was not a hoax. A hoax is something that is a lie. This was not a lie. Wallace discovered a noose in his garage. While the FBI investigation found the noose was something other than an intentional threat, this was not a hoax. It was a misunderstanding.

Even at that, it was a terrible experience for Wallace. We should all recognize in these sensitive times — and especially dangerous times for black people — some speech and actions can be offensive, even if they weren’t meant that way. Instead of belittling such an experience by calling it a hoax isn’t the way to heal the racial divide. Being willing to listen and empathize is.

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