My friend and former Sirius XM Speedway co-host Angie Skinner found herself swept-up in a controversy not of her own making yesterday, when her stepson, Dustin Skinner, posted some shocking, racially insensitive comments on social media. Sadly, much of the online backlash was directed at Angie and Mike, who in no way deserved the hateful, vitriolic comments that came their way.
Angie reached out to me today -- as a friend -- to share her heartache and disappointment. After reading her words, I asked if I might share them with you here. Not because Mike and Angie need defending, but because messages of understanding and tolerance are badly needed these days.
For the record, I have known Mike and Angie for a long, long time. They are wonderful, giving, selfless people, without a single racist bone in their bodies. I have no idea what brought Dustin to the dark place he currently inhabits, but I can tell you for sure that it wasn't Mike and Angie.
We all hope and pray that our children will be successful and make us proud, but there are no guarantees.
I would ask that you read Angie's words with an open heart...
Every morning, I have an amazing God-sent friend that texts me a spiritual writing, she NEVER misses a day. At 5 AM this morning I prayed for the right words for today, after reading the horrific words from someone I love.
Do not speak in the hearing of fools; they will despise the wisdom of your words.-- Proverbs 23:9
Many of you really don’t know me - you don’t know how I grew up, or why I never had children of my own. You don’t know the ways I have been mistreated by friends; men and women of all races. You don’t know my battles with depression, my heartbreaks, my failures… You really don’t know me.
Many assume that my husband and I raised children together. We did not. Many assume we own a race team. We do not. Many of you have posted despicable comments against us for something we did not do, nor support.
My good friend and broadcast mentor Dave Moody taught me one thing when I joined his show years ago; Remember everything you say is permanent. NO ONE forgets, so always make sure what you say or post is accurate and true. Check your sources and do your research.
My true friends and family DO know me and my husband.
You don’t know why I chose to NOT be a serious news reporter after I grew up dreaming of reporting the news every night. You don’t know why I went in the direction of sports and entertainment. And I won’t share with you those stories. Yet.
I will say that I just love to make people laugh. It’s that simple. I love to make people laugh and smile and forget about their troubles. This is how I use my social media channels; I really do try to just make you all laugh, and myself.
And you know what? There are many of you out there that even complain about my laugh. That hurts, because it’s my laugh and it’s genuine. But that is your right I guess, to tell me I’m obnoxious and loud and what a piece of crap I am.
It’s my right to ignore your comments and still LAUGH, just as it’s me and my husband’s right to handle our personal grievances against someone and family matters personally and not on social media.
I am not a politician. I never signed up to be outspoken on social injustices. I admire those that do in good manner, but it’s just not me and for sure is not my husband; who literally still doesn’t truly understand social media. He was told he needed an account and he followed the suggestion.
When I was notified of the horrendous comments Mike’s son made about Bubba Wallace, I cried. I prayed. I asked God for guidance on how to handle such a situation.
I didn’t even know they were made. To be honest, Mike and I have not really followed NASCAR media as of late. We are in a stage in our lives where we are transitioning to other adventures. That doesn’t mean we don’t watch races or read tweets or posts from drivers we follow, it’s just not our priority at this stage of our lives. We are diving into new ventures, and with so much hate lately in our world, we rarely even watch the news anymore.
Our PR manager found the comments, called me immediately and addressed the comments. I asked her to deal with it because I was just so upset that anymore – let alone a family member -- would express anger in that sentiment. I didn’t even share the info with Mike. I just wanted him to not deal with another family ordeal, of which we have experienced many.
When we were alone and the race was near ending, I told him about the comments made by his son. He was extremely hurt, humiliated and upset. He dealt with the issue man to man by calling his son and discussing his anger.
My husband is a good man who can look into the mirror every morning PROUD of who he is. He is genuine and he is guided by his heart. He loves his friends, his family and his country.
Your judgements against someone you have never met? Well -- just that. You have never met him. You only saw him on a racetrack and hear him on radio sometimes.
Many made comments in rage, suggesting and demanding what he should do as a father without even knowing how he did handle the situation, minutes after he was told about the post.
You did it behind a keyboard with anger and hate. You didn’t check your facts and you chastised me and Mike, not realizing the hurt we were dealing with. The same that has happened to many of color, gender, ethnicity. You did exactly what the world needs to STOP doing.
If we are going to change this world, we need to not promote so much hate and anger. We all need to be kind to one another, help one another, heal with one another, learn from one another. How we act…. How we love…. How we treat others… How we pray for those fighting such anger…. Love heals and changes – not demands and threats.
This is how I deal with the many social injustices in this world. I’m not radical, I’m peaceful.
When I watched the amazing start of the Talladega race, with the drivers and racers supporting Bubba Wallace, I cried happy tears. It showed the real change being made in love and support. It was genuine and so beautiful. I was proud of the sport and even more proud of the people. To end my night in such chaos really made me think. Really made me realize that maybe social media isn’t for me in my life right now. Really made me realize my actions in person mean more than what I type behind a keyboard. (I know, I’m typing now, but it’s the only way to express my true feelings and hopefully shine a more positive light onto such a dark situation).
We pray Dustin changes his views. He already broke down, apologized and realized how horrific and hurtful his comments were. He asked what to do and we suggested apologizing and learning from the outburst. Again, we pray that his views change.
But it’s up to him to handle.
Mike will not stop loving his son because the public demands him to. Mike will promote his positives and hope he continues to grow and love; reminding him of his good qualities and using love and positivity to change his attitude one day at a time.
My husband is a man of great integrity and he will not be demanded by those who have never met him, or via social media channels to give up on his son. He will fight to fix it -- personally – and not on social media.
He will use love to conquer it. He will do what he can to heal the heart. He will use love and positive words and any means possible to change the mind of someone who is full of anger and rage. That is all he can do – and I ask that you understand how we handle our situation.
Please stop the ranting, hate, blaming and finger pointing. It’s not going to change our world – it’s just going to fuel the fire.
We pray something positive can come from such a horrific venting of social injustice.
Though I have never birthed a child of my own – I see the pain and hurt my husband goes through when a child of his acts out in such a manner. It’s between our family. We all have issues with our families, and if you are so lucky to have the perfect family, God Bless You. Please pray for ours.
I leave you with a message I heard from a sweet, sweet little girl. Her name is Willow. She is bi-racial. Her innocent soul has no understanding why she would be looked at different or negative. She is a child with a genuine and young heart.
Her lesson? It doesn’t matter what color skin we have.
If we all cut our finger…. Our blood is the same. It’s red. We all have a heart, we all have two lungs…. We are all the same. We should all be treated equal… we should all be treated the same way.