You don’t have to be a fan of professional wrestling to know who Hulk Hogan is. He’s a household name. He has been for a very long time. But WWE is trying to change all of that.
If you haven’t heard by now, Hulk Hogan (aka Terry Bollea) went on a vicious racial tirade regarding his daughter, Brooke, dating a black man. Video of this conversation recently surfaced via the Gawker website. As a result, Hogan wasn’t only let go from his position with WWE, he apparently has been erased from the space-time continuum. Vince and company would prefer to use the phrase “terminated his contract” but the real meat of it is, Hulk Hogan was fired in an on-going struggle for WWE to improve their diminishing profit margin and tarnished public image.
Hogan was undeniably wrong. And he should have been fired or at least kept at arm’s length from the company for a time. But to erase him completely, as if he didn’t exist, as if he wasn’t the sole reason for WWE’s success in the 1980’s, is a travesty. Not only for Hogan’s legacy in and of itself, but also because it’s a move that exponentially makes WWE and Chairman of the Board, Vince McMahon, a bunch of hypocrites.
Vince McMahon has been recorded on camera saying the n-word to John Cena. Considering both are from the New England area, this is not surprising. Vince has also been recorded on camera saying the n-word to Booker T. There have also been rumors of Executive VP, Paul Levesque (Triple H), using racial slurs and making racial comments to WWE personnel backstage. It’s somewhat believable considering Triple H once in character on microphone in front of a live audience referred to Booker T’s hair as “nappy” and brought up his non-kayfabe criminal past.
This is maybe not even the worst of it. WWE (formerly WWF) has a long history of racial stereotype characters and gimmicks that have embarrassed black people going back decades and continuing today. Here are just a few examples of blatant racism from WWE.
Mark Henry as “Sexual Chocolate” who was billed as a playboy that liked old white women (yes, they even had him impregnate Mae Young in kayfabe, who gave birth to Hornswaggle). Ron Simmons, arguably one of the biggest black stars in wrestling history was reduced to nothing but an old black man who says, “DAMN!” whenever he sees something unbelievable. In fact, Harley Race infamously said to him after he won the world title, “When I was champion, I had a boy like you to carry my bags!” Tony Atlas, a beast of a competitor for WWF and world renown strongman was turned into Saba Simba and forced to do African tribal dances after his victories.
WWE once had a tag team called Cryme Tyme, two black men featured in vignettes robbing people which was billed as how they trained for matches. Compare them to the current WWE tag team champions, Prime Time Players. Two black men called “players” who are only concerned with getting millions of dollars. The group’s leader, Titus O’Neal often makes barking noises in the ring and the team’s merchandise shirt has a purple hair pick on it. If we look at the bizarre history of R-Truth, who is currently still billed as some sort of crazy black man who raps and says “What’s up?!” in 2015, we see a running gag of racism and a character taken straight out of 90’s suburban culture.
We can go even further back into time and look at Junkyard Dog, a black man characterized by a dog collar and chains. Or Papa Shango, a black voodoo witch doctor. Or the Boogeyman, a black man who came into the ring and ate worms. The Great Kamala, Roddy “Rowdy” Piper doing blackface, or how about the fact that in its 31 year history, the only black men to be involved in the main event at WrestleMania were Lawrence Taylor, The Rock, Mr. T, and Mike Tyson. Three of those names aren’t even wrestlers.
WWE exploits and tears down anyone who isn’t white. Don’t believe that? Go on Google and search for a list of WWE/WWF World Heavyweight Champions. How many black names do you see? Or even something as recent as the newly crafted Divas Championship. It was created in 2008. Seven years later, only one black woman has held the title. Alicia Fox carried the belt for 56 days. And if you’re wondering what she’s doing these days, well she’s currently the crazy black “muscle” for the white privilege Bella Twins, of which Nikki Bella has been champion for going on 250 days or so.
And it’s not just the black community that has been mistreated. Other races and cultures have been jested and demeaned by WWE as well. Just look at Eva Mendes, a Canadian who is billed as a Spanish Latina and was recently paired with Caucasian dancer Fandango in a Latin dance routine where they pranced around with roses in their mouths. Chief Jay Strongbow, another atypical stereotype character, was an Italian-American who dressed up as an Indian. The way WWE has handled their Lucha competitors as well as Asian roster signees is a glaring red flag of something being deeply, deeply amiss. WWE has long bred a culture of accepted racism that is not only encouraged but laughed about.
We could go on and on because that is honestly just the tip of the iceberg, but digression only leads us away from the truth. WWE released a statement after firing Hogan that stated, “WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.” But their history and current treatment of minority characters is in direct contrast with those words. WWE firing Hulk Hogan for racist comments and then scrubbing him out of their history books is jaw-dropping. Especially when they have continuously and consistently done far worse spanning decades.
Bottom line, Hulk Hogan was recorded saying the n-word eight years ago. Vince McMahon probably said the n-word six times before breakfast today. WWE has removed Hulk Hogan from their website including the Alumni page and Hall of Fame page. All of his merchandise has vanished. He essentially has been erased. And yet, Vince McMahon skates by unscathed once more. For a man who lives in such a big, expensive glass-house he sure is throwing a lot of stones about. Perhaps WWE’s front office should take a long, hard look in a mirror before passing judgment on others especially when it comes to matters of race.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker