The response to Big Swole and the need to protect Black women in wrestling

All Elite Wrestling
All Elite Wrestling /

It has been nearly a week since the situation surrounding Big Swole’s exit from AEW kicked off to a new level. Her comments on her audio cast set off a whirlwind of tweets, hot takes, insight, and more. Tony Khan was exceptionally wrong in his response on Twitter, but he’s not the only one. Multiple former colleagues have spoken up about their “personal experiences,” but it becomes a dangerous matter when the words and thoughts of Black men are used in an attempt to silence the experience of a Black woman.

When having this conversation, it’s important to understand that every individual has an experience and the right to share that experience. Whether it’s on a podcast, social media, or talking to yourself in the mirror; there’s nothing wrong with discussing your perception of an experience. Just like opinions, everyone has one, regardless of gender, income, religion, etc. That’s not the issue in this situation.

Swole gave her comments on a situation that was going to spark a heated response. Diversity and inclusion, along with the booking of the women’s division are two major points that many critics of AEW have voiced in the last year. Even though she shared her perception on the matter, the blowback was fierce. It’s escalated to the point where she’s received death threats and derogatory messages across social media.

Another unfortunate layer are the Black men that have spoken up to offer a different perspective that runs counter to the concerns the Swole has raised. While they are entitled to their own point of view, it has to be understood that doing so at this time will be used to further demonize Swole and denigrate everything that she said. And this isn’t a new practice in the workplace.

There are multiple reports and studies about the treatment of Black women in the workplace across all industries. These reports reference a laundry list of bullying, microaggressions, and other attacks that are meant to silence and marginalize their voices.

The timing of Black men speaking up to offer differing opinions on diversity and inclusion in AEW must recognize that their words will be used by those looking to discredit Swole’s comments and her credibility. If this were January 2020 and the same insight was offered, the situation and conversation would be different. But in this matter, it’s clear that someone is waiting to say “See, I told you she was wrong,” while using Black men’s words against her as “evidence.”

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Is there a space for those who feel the opposite of Big Swole to offer their thoughts on diversity and inclusion in AEW? Yes. Does that space have to come as a response so closely timed to Swole’s comments? No. Yes, there are media members asking for their thoughts on the matter, but that is when a simple, “no comment” or “that’s not my story to tell” answer is a perfect retort.

Regardless of what some may think, professional wrestling is a diverse space with many fans and performers from different backgrounds. Black women are included and their voices and concerns should be protected just like any others – like the men and women that have taken to Talk is Jericho to “vent” about the WWE. But there’s a certain responsibility of Black men to “protect” Black women with their words and actions and that was missed by some when it comes to the Big Swole/Tony Khan matter.