Naomi’s situation was met with deafening silence
Naomi has been the center of attention the last few days. The trending hashtag that brought attention to her misuse within the WWE started several interesting conversations within the industry. WWE Hall of Famer Booker T had some upsetting words about Naomi’s tenure in the promotion, which has led to a lot of backlash sent in his direction. While his comments were disturbing at the surface, they speak to the frequent occurrence that the support provided to Black women is generally lacking we compared to that of their peers. It is a trend within the WWE and industries beyond the squared circle.
Last Friday, Naomi lost a meaningless match to Lacey Evans in comical fashion. The fallout was a ground swell of support for Naomi, which led to a minor segment on the following episode of Smackdown where she stood tall over Evans, the Miz and John Morrison. Yet, the bigger story is Booker T’s comments and what the trend that they continue when it comes to supporting Black women when they are in need in both wrestling and other spaces.
“Nobody deserves a chance, alright. First and foremost, you must earn your chance and your spot on the roster. This is not some movement to just pull somebody up just because. I hate to sit here and say this and talk this way because I like Naomi. But, as far as the business goes, you get it on your merit alone,” Booker T said during his podcast, Hall of Fame. “Sometimes you have to make your own breaks. Sometimes you must go out there and rise to the occasion when no one else thought you could. It may not happen overnight. No one expected me, including myself, to become six-time world champion.”
Those are some resounding words from an individual in Booker’s position. Certainly, if his prime would have come during a time of social media, fans would have been in his corner as hard as they are for Naomi today. It’s even more heartbreaking that Booker defended Tessa Blanchard when she faced accusations of racism from multiple women in the industry. To see him stand against a push for a Black woman is very upsetting. But that is not the point of this take on the conversation. What is more telling is the near silence that occurred when Booker made these unfair and incorrect statements. Very few wrestlers came out to defend the idea that Naomi has not deserved the true opportunity to has eluded her to this point. That silence is a telling moment in this entire conversation.
Everyone isn’t met with the same response
In recent memory, both Toni Storm and Alexa Bliss were put in situations where the wrestling community came to their defense. Both experienced personal invasions of privacy which were met with a fast circling of the wagons around them – which is exactly what should happen in a time like that. Wrestlers within the WWE and outside the company showed their support for these women. But where is that same support when Naomi is publicly embarrassed by Booker T? Sure, there’s value in supporting her behind the scenes, but speaking out publicly shows everyone that Naomi is a more valuable member of the roster than she’s presented by the WWE. It is one thing to have fans rally to her side, but there is even more value in her colleagues doing the same in public.
Sasha Banks sent out a strong message of support via Twitter, but beyond that, there was silence. Where was the support from the Black men in wrestling who experience similar misuse across the industry? It was non-existent and that is problematic. Remember when Nia Jax stood up for Women of Color when WWE tweeted out images touting their women’s roster but only included white women? She faced backlash for that from individuals like Peyton Royce, but again there was zero support for Jax at that time. Naomi is yet another example of when Black women were not afforded the same type of support that their peers receive in the workplace.
Naomi is a multiple-time champion and loved by her fans. They are not calling for her to be booked like a version of Brock Lesnar or Bill Goldberg. Instead, all they ask for is some follow through that leads to substance for a woman that continues to tap into a space that is not available to everyone on the roster. Instead, the “movement” is met with push back and ridicule. That is an issue that Black women face throughout their life that needs to come to a halt sooner rather than later.