Jordan Myles’s outrage speaks to larger issues within WWE

Jordan Myles let the world know that he isn’t happy with WWE for a questionable shirt design that speaks to larger issues within the company.

Diversity and inclusion have been two important topics within the professional wrestling industry. All too often there are examples of the long way that is needed to go in order to pull the industry up to a level playing field for all. WWE NXT competitor, Jordan Myles, has taken to Twitter to remind all that his voice counts as he shines the light on a ridiculous shirt design with his name on it. It’s easy to see exactly why the shirt is a mistake and it speaks volumes to the lack of diversity that is within WWE’s decision-making positions across the organization.

Over the weekend, Myles sent out a tweet with a picture of his shirt and one line of text: “They’ll regret making this. #ForTheCulture.” The black shirt has an image of bright red lips and Myles’s full name as teeth. At first glance it draws a strong parallel to golliwog imagery. These images, also known as blackface, are the caricatures that were used as anti-black commentary.

The depictions often feature very dark, jet black skin, brightly colored lips, big teeth and wild hair. Myles, and many others who saw the shirt, draw a line between that design and golliwog images that continue to show up in society today.

“I will keep posting this till my voice is heard. I am not sorry for anything I say or do,” Myles posted on Twitter. “Representation is important. If this is what Vince McMahon and Triple H ‘vision’ of me then this is a slap in the face of EVERY African American performer, fan and supporter.”

Myles would continue to tweet out other posts about his issues with the shirt and responding to fans that questioned the outcry. Others within the wrestling media space and fans commented their support of Myles and their disappointment in the WWE putting this design out. The company has updated the shirt design and put out another version with an updated logo, but the fact that this design slipped through the cracks speaks to a larger issue.

There’s a variety of reasons why diversity is important in decision-making positions across all industries and companies. This is an example of such a reason. Even though the WWE has had multiple episodes with this problem, it continues to show its face. From questionable storylines, lack of inclusion for women or people of color, to other problems – the WWE continues to make these “mistakes” that can easily discourage some from being avid supporters of their content.

Blackface is an issue that is not to be made light of in any way. Gucci had to apologize for developing a sweater that featured a very similar design. Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, was facing a serious controversy close to election time because of images from his past in blackface. Blackface can even be traced back to classic Disney content such as Dumbo and Steamboat Willie.

Blackface is an ugly moment in history that hasn’t completely gone way. It’s pervasive in a way that many people do not understand why it’s problematic. The wrestling industry doesn’t need to be infected but seems like that’s already occurred as this image is making the rounds.

The WWE has yet to make a statement on the mistake, and hopefully leadership releases some sort of apology. But that’s hard to see happening from a company that continues to let down a large contingent of its fanbase. This shirt is yet another example in a long line of problems that this company trips over when dealing with race and gender norms.