Confederate flag displays at Sonoma Raceway

Posted on July 25, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

It has been brought to my attention by a number of members of our branch in addition to community members expressing concern around the visible displays of confederate flags on site.

I recall Sonoma Raceway pledging a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion with the point of banning public displays of confederate flags and other racially charged materials. In this instance, I find it problematic that people of color and allies are being tasked with the burden to bear witness but to also bring it to your attention. What happened to the proactive approach in monitoring the grounds overall?

Our branch 2nd Vice-President called in with her concern on July 24th, attempted to have a solutions-based dialogue and was met with resistance from a member of the team. This, above all else, is disturbing. When anyone, especially a person of color offers challenging feedback, it should be received as a gift and held with high regard; not put off as an inconvenience. Later in the afternoon, a second call had to be made as the flag was still visible. A conversation was had with Mr. Jeff Motley, Vice President of Communications. Mr. Motley stated that the flag was overlooked by the security team, which was unacceptable. Additionally, Mr. Motley confirmed a security team would be dispatched with law enforcement to require the RV owner remove the flag or face a lifetime ban from the raceway; and that this incident would be the top priority of post event protocol meetings and staff directives.

These steps are appropriate and in alignment with the policy banning the display of confederate flags adopted by Sonoma Raceway in 2018. Nevertheless, the flag continues to make an appearance, along with other symbols associated with white supremacy and domestic terrorism. Sonoma Raceway must take steps to be more proactive in ensuring that camping sites are thoroughly reviewed before attendees walk to the raceway, ensuring that people of color can attend your events without fear. Without making this a priority, symbols of hate will remain visible from the road throughout the day as security waits for attendees to return to their vehicles at the close of the event.

Based on an initial website search, rules regarding the carrying of a confederate flag are deep in the depths of the Q & A section and if the Sonoma Raceway team truly values addressing the flag carrying, they will ensure it lands at the top of all visible visitor and campsite rules pages. I look forward to future conversations with the Sonoma Raceway Leadership Team in ensuring these issues are addressed upon guest arrival and not left for citizen review and attention.

Sonoma Raceway must maintain awareness and continue to be proactive in addressing the harmful ideologies of racism that plague this country and that are shared by some of its patrons. It must take intentional and authentic steps to ensure visitors are not allowed to display symbols of hate.

— Kirstyne Lange, President, NAACP Santa Rosa-Sonoma

One thought on “Confederate flag displays at Sonoma Raceway

  1. Were there any people of color attacked at the raceway during the race weekend?

Comments are closed.

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA