WWE and wrestling as a whole must answer for its racist past


There is a long living racist ideology embedded in the world of wrestling, particularly WWE. Before the wrestling world can show support for Black Lives Matter, they must distance themselves from their past.

For far too long, I’ve watched the news helplessly to see people who look like me be laid bare and lifeless on concrete pavements around the world by police authorities who we have been raised to believe were sworn to help us in danger. Instead, they’ve put my brothers and sisters in danger every day.

The US police system has forced us to echo the names of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, and now George Floyd. And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface as far as how many Black lives have been lost to police brutality in recent memory.

Now more than ever in times of protest, to echo the words of author/professor/activist Angela Davis, “it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be ANTI-racist.” Meaning one must actively draw a line in the sand, speak against racist ideologies and take a stand in support for Black lives.

WWE attempted to draw that line by issuing a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. 

At face value, especially if you know nothing about WWE or wrestling in general, this is a strong, commendable message for WWE to release. But as a fan who has followed the product for some years now, the statement falls on deaf ears. Because both WWE and wrestling at its core is ingrained in racism.

Be it intentional or unintentional, WWE has promoted the very racist ideologies that it championed against in its statement. The company’s own Chairman of the Board said the N-word during a live broadcast. We saw Triple H tell Booker T “people like [him] don’t deserve [to be World Champion], then proved it by beating him at Mania.

Such racist ideologies go beyond just what we’ve seen in front of the camera. Behind the camera, there have been instances like Alberto Del Rio (as much of a problematic mess that man turned out to be afterwards) losing his job after defending himself backstage when a WWE employee doubled down on a racist joke. Lio Rush recently revealed emails he sent WWE in regards to multiple incidents of racial insensitivity that he had to endure. It was mere months ago that WWE released a t-shirt in Jordan Myles’ name reminiscent of Black face. 

Hulk Hogan was fired, only to be re-hired by WWE after not only saying the N-word among other racist obscenities on camera, but admitting “I guess we’re all a little bit racist.” Then, of course, the McMahon family has always had a close knit relationship with Donald Trump and have donated to his campaign.

Don’t mistake me for focusing on WWE as me solely picking on the company. Focusing on one company hopefully puts my central ideas in a better focus, but best believe, indoctrined racism goes beyond just WWE, but wrestling in general.

As my colleagues Chris Jeter and Raphael Garcia have expounded themselves, AEWhas made their own declarations that could seem hollow without proper actions, and highlighting Bruce Lee Hazelwood’s piece on AEW’s lack of POC (people of color) main event male stars should alone highlight they’ve got their own issues to deal with. And don’t even get me started on Jake Hager; especially when Ryan Anderson did a far better job than I could.

Again, the list of racist atrocities, behind and in front of the camera is engaged in a long running history across just about every promotion, past and present. WCW received racial discrimination lawsuits. Jim Cornette made racist remarks on commentary while working for NWA last November. IMPACT World Champion Tessa Blanchard was at the center of racism and bullying allegations last January.

I can go on and on and on.

Trailing back to WWE, I bring up all of these examples because in these real life backstage incidents in particular, WWE has more often kept quiet about them, never addressing them publicly. That time for silence is over.

Onscreen, WWE have embraced stereotypes for all races – from the  quote on quote “white trash redneck” like Stone Cold Steve Austin guzzling beers, to Los Guerreros getting a kick out of lying, cheating, and stealing, or Cryme Tyme (with all due respect to the late Shad Gaspard) serving as a parody to classic gangster imagery – but the time for that is also over.

When racial tensions are at an all time high, there is no time to glorify pseudo-racist stereotypes for the sake of cultivating cute characters and storylines, nor to be silent in the face of racism bleeding through the company, whether it happened on or off screen, intentionally or unintentionally.

If WWE want to truly, genuinely and actively show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, speak out against racism and take steps to ensure that racism does not prosper in this world, then they must first distance themselves the racist themes and ideas of their past. The first step of distance is actively talking about it.

For example, again, Vince McMahon said the N-word in a skit on television. That’s a problem, but it’s also a problem to ignore it like it’s an elephant in the room when it’s one of the prime examples fans run to when we discuss how racism is linked to WWE.

If Vince, for example, were to publicly admitted that to say that word, even for the sake of a joke, was wrong in retrospect, that’s at least a step in the right direction. Whether his fans believe such a statement is subjective, but it’s better to at least speak and come to terms with re-evaluating racist behavior from the past than to act like it never happened.

Silence does nothing to support the cause and some silence can imply a co-sign of racist ideas rather than denouncing it.

Next. CZW Wrestling’s toxic, abusive, bigoted culture must come to an end. dark

So I’m glad that WWE have come as far as to speak against racism, but for the sentiment to feel genuine, they must also come to terms with the racism that has plagued their business for so many years. The same goes for the rest of the wrestling industry and anybody outside of wrestling who hopes to serve as allies in the fight against racism.