Racism and White Privilege in Wrestling

The guy on the left looks like Riley from The Boondocks all grown up

So along with being a huge wrestling nerd, I’m also an activist. I’m mostly active in anti-racism endeavors, though not as much as I’d like to be. Right now it’s promoting and donating to independent anti-racist media like Blacking It Up.

I ran across this article by Kevin Kelly where he copy and pastes an email written to him by a black man, Willie, about the racism in wrestling. If you click on the link you can read Willie’s email. Kelly posts it in full.

Kelly’s attitude about this email annoys me. It’s full of white privilege.

Lemme say this. I’m not writing this post to debate white privilege. I don’t mean to be a hard ass…but I’ve done it over and over. It does exist. That’s just fact. Studies over and over prove it. I encourage you to look some up. Racism is also real. It’s still happening. That’s just how it is. I’m not debating that here. If you wanna email me: gore.lorraine@gmail.com and we will talk about it!

Here are some quotes from Willie’s email:

The WWE has NEVER had a African American Champion and it appears their will never be one especially if Vince McMahon has anything to say about it. Now when I bring up this subject people are quick to dispute my allegations and they utilize “The Rock” as some form of proof that WWE has had a Black Champion, But i wanna dispute that theory and I’ll tell you why. The WWE does not even acknowledge The Rocks African American roots and ties. They always refer to his Samoan Heritage as his ethnic background and they refer to him as Samoan and refuses to acknowledge his African American Heritage. As proof for my claims I will direct you to the latest Dvd The WWE released on the Rock entitled ” The Rock The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment” If you go to the very first disc on that dvd the very first chapter is titled Samoan Royalty! with no knowledge or mention of him being a ” Black Man”.

And another one:

And its sad to say but thats what it appears to be from a fan like me watching. and it hurts when i dont see people who look like me obtaining the same success as guys like the Miz, John Cena, Batista, etc. and other guys who their better then. The WWE has a history of boldly pushing the racial envelope with racial innuendos that are done either subtlety or down right up front. I will give you other examples if I may and I’ll start with Virgil! Virgil was a glorified Uncle Tom and slave for the Million Dollar Man! He shined his shoes, carried his luggage, cleaned fungus from in between his toes! He was belittled in public, he was basically a modern day slave for Ted Dibiase! and the WWE proudly marketed his character this way without a glitch of remorse and sorrow and still to this day have made no apologies for that Disrespectful character. Yes Virgil made a choice to play that role, however feeding your family sometimes supersedes your better judgment and self respect in the world of professional wrestling.

Lets move on to Cryme Tyme, Cryme Tyme was nothing more then glorified thugs and gangsters! They were thieves, robbers, hustlers, you name it! They talked ignorantly and sagged their pants and had gold teeth! and its sad because this is how the WWE views African Americans and they broadcast it to a world wide audience. Now its not only blacks they do this to they did it to Savio Vega. Savio Vega was portrayed as a dumb Puerto Rican who could barely speak the English language and who was easily swindled and manipulated and constantly made a fool out of. They even did it to Eddie Guerrero, Eddie Guerrero the Mexican who LIES, CHEATS, AND STEALS! Are u noticing a pattern here Kevin? I mean these examples are irrefutable and are down right evidence of the WWE’S constant racial bias towards minorities. I mean R-Truth the RAPPER lol. I could go on and on with these examples and it hurts me when I see guys like Mark Henry, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth etc. who will never make it pass Curtain Jerkers because the WWE doesn’t see them as marketable!

To this, all Kevin Kelly says is:

To that I say this… the only color I think Vince sees is green but am I wrong? Do you agree or disagree with Willie? Email me… kevinfsu90@msn.com or twitter @realkevinkelly

Dear Kevin Kelly,

I understand this is a hard subject to discuss. I get it. But, when someone says,

“it hurts when i dont see people who look like me obtaining the same success as guys like the Miz, John Cena, Batista, etc. and other guys who their better then.”
and your response is basically that Vince only sees money, so that’s just how it is just…really?

This is what white privilege is. We don’t ever have to think about how hurtful that would be to be a fan of something and never see yourself represented in any top spot…and when you see yourself represented at all, it’s always some stereotypical version of what other people think you are. When people of color express hurt to us, we get to write it off as if it’s nothing. You need to stop that. I assume that like most people you don’t want to hurt others, brushing off someone’s hurt is hurtful behavior. Whether or your agree or not. Stop doing it.

Maybe Vince only sees the color green, I don’t think that’s true, but let’s just pretend…then he’s still making money off of stereotypical characters he knows are not accurate representations. And he’s ok w/ that. You and I both know that isn’t right.

Someone should be saying something, and doing something. We as fans shouldn’t be watching these segments. You, Kevin, as someone who writes about wrestling, should be calling it out. It’s wrong. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about money or not. It’s still wrong.

And seriously, don’t disregard someone’s hurt. I’m certain you wouldn’t want others to treat you that way. If you want people to be considerate of you, you have to be considerate of them.

That’s just life.

P.S. Shoutout to Rckstrtmmy and chris jones in the comments of that article who said “Black people are so touchy.” and “Wish more black people were like you.. it’s hard to find a person that isn’t so touchy.” Shut the fuck up. Stop being assholes. A giant Stone Cold middle finger for you. Douchebags.

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4 thoughts on “Racism and White Privilege in Wrestling

  1. Great article.
    It’s really too bad that the black race is so poorly represented. And even more
    so that no one seems to care.

    From a Hispanic ethnicity, I rarely see any one like myself in a top spot
    either. But it really isn’t as bad.

    It’s too bad someone as big as the Rock never, apart from his days in the
    Nation, owned his black roots. I wonder how that would have changed things, if at all.

  2. Yes to all of this. I can’t believe he gave such a short comment to that with all that was said.

    I also want to add that we shouldn’t forget Scott Hall as Razor Ramon, who I think was supposed to be Cuban. Appropriation much?

    Oh, and how none of the black female wrestlers are ever pushed or given opportunities or are constantly portrayed as hard people while the white female wrestlers are all soft and sexy and whatnot. Here, I’m thinking of Jacqueline, Jazz, etc.

    There’s so much there that can’t just simply be boiled down to “Vince just sees green.” Bullshit.

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