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7.19.2009

Tha Scorn Identity

This is something I have been thinking about for a while and wasn’t sure if I would even write about it. As some of you may know, I am Black. Well, half-Black but let’s not get into details. I look Black.

When people see me they don’t consider that I may be anything else until I let my hair grow. I was sitting here listening to some old episodes of Tha O Show and Black Prophet was on. Now, I usually block out most of what he says since its sometimes nitpicky and racist as hell, but he said something that made me pause for a moment.

On one of the older rants of his he pointed out how Black athletes can't just be Black and wrestle. They had to have some sort of gimmick that involved dancing, singing, rapping, or being a thug. I blew this off for a while since when I was a kid there was Junk Yard Dog, Koko B. Ware, and Ron Simmons. None of them were thugs. Yeah, JYD and Koko danced, but they weren’t trying to sell any albums (looking at you Ron Killings). They were just Black guys that wrestled and entertained me. They brought every race together by succeeding in a sport that is most White dominated but it was never mentioned. But how is that working nowadays?

In WWE there is Cryme Tyme, Shelton Benjamin, Ron Killings, Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, and MVP. That’s seven guys out of that whole company that are Black. Out of those seven two have been to prison and two pretend to be thugs. So that means that more than half of the Black superstars in WWE bring up the fact that crime is a part of their lives. I’m not saying that they need to ignore their past. But these guys are likely the only Black guys that a lot of fans get to see (some people live in very non-Black populated cities) and if this is the only exposure they get of Black men, what does that mean?

If you’re Latino you can watch a ton of promotions and see people that look like you. I mean, that’s if you run around wearing a mask and tights all day. You know what I mean. If you’re White you can just turn on any promotion and see guys that you can relate to. I guess the closest I can come up to with the whole Black wrestler, cheesy gimmick vibe is Asian wrestlers. For some reason if you’re an Asian wrestler you must do kung fu or be a mysterious man that spits green mist at people. Its all about stereotypes, people.

There have been very few Black wrestlers that didn’t resort to “Blacking it up”. Booker T. was once a member of Harlem Heat and those two were super Black. They were talking jive and everything. Now he’s a king that speaks with an African accent. Ron Simmons became Farooq and dressed like a broke ass gladiator before starting the Nation Of Domination, a group of militant Blacks. Kofi is from Ghana but pretends to be Jamaican. The closest Black’s have to a regular ass guy is Shelton Benjamin but even he runs down the Black athletes (I wont even mention his blonde hair). And even he doesn’t consider himself a Black wrestler.

I’m just trying to figure out what kids growing up watching this form of wrestling are gonna think as they see these guys on TV. Are these guys going to be role models for future wrestlers? Or will they just be looked at as characters? I wanna ask you O-sters out there you’re opinion. What race are you? Where are you from? Is there anyone that represents you in the ring? And if there is how do you feel about them? Do they make you proud of embarrass you? Do they make you wanna “pop ya 40’s and check ya rollies”? Or do they make you "holla holla holla"?


17 comments: on "Tha Scorn Identity"

American Dave said...

Howdy, Dante!

I usually am on board with your thoughts and writings, but I have to disagree with you on this KIND OF.

Is wrestling a racist business? Sure, but it's the most harmless sort of 'racism' on earth, and I'm gonna tell you why: Because it affects everyone.

Wrestling is a show, it's an event. Everyone needs their hook, and honestly, race is the easiest, most immediately reliable and identifiable methods of informing an audience in the least bit of time what a wrestler is all about, and it doesn't just affect black people. It may not seem like it, but EVERY race gets the same treatment.

-The Spirit Squad are the wiggedy whack ultra white boy cheer squad.

-Kenzo Suzuki came to the ring carried on a BAD ASS throne and had a HOT ASS geisha gal escort him to the ring (too bad he was horrible in the ring, I really, REALLY wanted to like him based on ring entrance/Geisha alone).

-Eddie G lied and cheated and came to the ring in a damn low rider. Really? I'm Puerto Rican, myself, and I wasn't offended by this. Eddie chose to do it, and if it's good enough for the performer to play it, then how can you judge its taste?

-Kofi being from Gana but playing a jamaican is kind of a stretch for your argument. Is the Undertaker REALLY from Death Valley?

It's bells and whistles, man, and they are trying to communicate a character to you in as little time as possible. You shouldn't have to sit there and think "Hmmm, what's this guy all about". You should be able to peg a character and relate to him as soon as humanly possible so you can sit back, be entertained and enjoy the match.

Is there stereotypes and racism in wrestling? Oh, undoubtedly, but to me, at least, it rarely seems hate-filled or mean spirited.

HHH was the rich snobby white guy at one time, Hillbilly Jim was...well...a Hillbilly. The million dollar man was a cackling, heartless white guy. Without these exaggerated stereotypes, wrestlers would seem kinda boring, wouldn't they? Personally, I think Sheldon Benjamin is one of the most boring wrestlers I've seen in a while, and it has fuck all to do with his in ring ability. He just doesn't do anything for me, he doesn't interest me.

When he came to the ring with his Momma a few years ago, I have to admit, I watched. It gave him some entertainment value, and that is what wrestling is about. If I want pure athleticism, I'll watch sports, if I want some doofy fun, I'll watch wrestling.

I hear this all the time, but it's true: A character should be you, but with the volume turned way up. regal is from England, therefore he is a noble for some reason and walks with that sneer. Nationality simply becomes one of those things that many performers choose to amplify in their performance to get their 'niche'.

Anyway, I'm rambling, but I hope I made some sort of point. Keep up the good work, man.

Justin said...

Seriously? Good for Shelton Benjamin. Why does one need to be a "black wrestler"? Why not just be a "wrestler"? Why do we in America have a "black president"? Shouldn't we just have a "president"? Its time for racial walls to be torn down. And the way to tear them down is not to give minorities extra, but to really tear them down. Now, as for who I think represents me in a ring, I would have to say Sandman.

Anonymous said...

at least they are over in some form peopel dont really laugh at them or hate them ( except other black people which is dumb) they chant " money money yea yea" with them or "wassup" its all fun. i mean its not ok to be rascist but black prophet does it all the time and he sounds like a one of the biggest fucking retards ever.
ron killings did legit try to become a rapper before he wrestled. mvp wanted to be one all his life so people appreciate that, shelton benjamin being black doesnt really matter since they never made that an issue he is just a really good wrestler. mark henry is mark henry, tony atlas is mr usa ( nothing negative about that) rocky johnson had the best dropkick in wrestling, butch reed is butch reed the man of great promos.

these are a bunch of examples its just that once they bring out a stereotype for a black person they need to get really angry. BUT its ok to make crazy irish leprechauns or rednecks because it makes fun of other people.

its all a fucking double standard when it comes to this stupid shit.

Anonymous said...

do they have to be in the WWE

Anonymous said...

Oh please. I'm Italian and I've had to put up with the Salvatore Sincere's and Santino Marella's and other gimmicky stereotype shit.

Its wrestling, lighten up.

D. Ross said...

American Dave. You crazy son of a bitch. Love this guy. One of my points I was trying to make was that since there are so few Black wrestlers it would be nice to see one that doesn’t act like a thug get some TV time. Yeah, Shelton comes the closest and is exciting, but for some reason he is just bland. When he brought his “Mama” out that actually turned me off towards him. It was an example of the Black bullshit being used on a guy that should be able to get over based on his athletic ability.

And we all know that this isn’t just a Black issue. That’s why I threw in a few examples of other races that get stereotyped in wrestling. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it would be nice to have a Black dude that is just Black and awesome. If Ezekiel wasn’t so damned sloppy maybe it could be him. Damn. Just realized as I typed his name I left him off my list of Black superstars.

Justin, no matter what year it is race will always matter. Just because Obama is in office doesn’t mean we suddenly have this utopian society where race is no longer an issue. And I wish you would explain how Sandman represents you. I am terribly intrigued.

Black people don’t like Cryme Tyme for the same reason they got mad when Magic Johnson said “Jumped-de-did” on live TV years ago. And I have never found leprechauns or rednecks funny. Back in the day when it seemed like those guys were for serious like that, yeah. But now, not so much.

And to answer Anonymous #3, no it does not have to be WWE based. You can include or talk about anyone anywhere. I just used the E since they have the most exposure.

Anonymous said...

.....anyone see Jesse AKA J Eazy AKA Jeezy AKA J Juice AKA G to the motha fuggin Y-eezy?....he was eatin Biscuits N Gravy...now he got Dough and Cheese

WONDER BREAD REPRESENT!!

The Great Sudoku said...

Thanks for pointing out the WWE's racism towards Asians.

Take a moment to ponder this contrast: When was the last time an Asian held a belt in the WWE? Now When was the last time a black guy had a belt in the fed?

The WWE has had tremendous Asian talents over the years like TAKA Michinoku (go watch his M-Pro Kaientai stuff to see just how HELD BACK he was in the fed). Tajiri (though I blame ECW for turning him into a Muta impersonator), and Jimmy Yang who got over DESPITE the horrible redneck gimmick he was saddled with.

The most memorable title run an Asian has had was when Hakushi had the light-heavyweight title, and how long ago was THAT?

From bad dubbing (indeed), to choppy choppy you pee pee, to Jimmy Yang's supposed dislike for sushi... The Asian sterotypes are strong, so is Vince's desire to hold Asians down and not give them legit title shots and title regins.

Anonymous said...

Please, cut the "O woe is us" drivel, what, you think only black people get racist shit thrown at them, it's wrestling, doesn't matter your colour, gender or where you're from, we all get stereotyped by the idiots in charge, I'm from the UK and Celtic and aren't posh or snooty and wear a bowler hat and carry an umbrella nor am I a drunken, brawling buffoon who has to dress up in green and say "bejesus" all the time! We all get it okay, its how wrestling sadly is.

Anonymous said...

Race is just a tool to get a wrestler over. Take the Rock for example. When he was young the played up the fact that he was "High Chief" Peter Maivia's grandson, and he was portrayed as part samoan. Then the Rock became a heel and a part of the Nation of Domination and he was suddenly just black. But after he reached the top of the company he became just, The Rock.

claytron said...

I'm native american... don't get me started. lol.

At least I'm just a ref and they don't have me running around in a loin cloth and head dress. On other note, a close friend of mine is a worker and they don't even mention his native american roots. I think its all about you and the character you wish to represent.

romello said...

As an Black Man,i see where you were going with your article,but you kind of contradicted yourself on one point. You ask why Black Wrestlers can't just be Wrestlers and then bash Shelton Benjamin because he doesn't want to be seen as a Black Wrestler. I hate the sterotypes that are put upon us but to some extent i also put the blame on US for those stereotypes. If we didn't celebrate the Thug Culture in our community,then there is no way that the stereotype could be used against us. WE as a community have allowed that Thug Image to be seen as the dominant image of young Black Males,instead of being intelligent and hard working. The sad fact that most young Black Males would rather identify with the Thug Image as opposed to Barack Obama is sickening,and it hasn't gone unnoticed. You also bring up the number of Black wrestlers in WWE,we need to understand that we are STILL a minority in this country,and a dwindling one at that! We have gone from being number two to number three and in a few more years will be number four,so the number of Black Wrestlers in a company like WWE are actually accurate based on the total population. We have come to expect there to be almost a 50/50 split in representation when there isn't a 50/50 spilt in the population. What we need to due is harness our energy as a people and stop looking for seats at someone else's table and start working on putting our own tables together. We really need to drop the worker mentality and start thinking like Bosses! When we start putting our focus on running shit as opposed to being run by shit,then and only then will the frustration you feel stop. This generation of young Black men have had more advantages then any generation in HISTORY and those advantages have been squandered. We have more Black Millionaires now then at any time in our history and yet we still can't put together anything other than Bullshit record labels and clothing lines,each which usually fail within 3 to 5 years. Hate to go on a Rant,but our problems are much larger than being under represented in the Fed. Gimmicks like the Black Prophet don't make us look any better either,no matter how many nuggets of truth he may slip through the cracks. Peace.

D. Ross said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Romello. I kinda did contradict myself with the Shelton example. This isn’t a woe is me issue. I was trying to point out something I saw and wrote about it. I and a few others here of other races have pointed out the gimmicks other races use that take a stereotype and turn it to the max. The Irish stuff, the Scottish, the Japanese, and Native Americans. We all see how Samoans get treated. Whatshisface that was booted from Legacy tried the normal Samoan thing and got endeavored.

I would like to see someone get over based on their skill rather than say “You’re Black. Dance. Rap. Sing. Thug it up.” Shelton, when he was a part of TWGTT, was amazing. I have never been a fan of Killings. I like MVP but feel like he’ll never get to smell the heavyweight title. I have no idea what Mark Henry’s place is in WWE. Guess you can say he’s the Black Kane.

I don’t wanna get started on all the shit Blacks do outside of wrestling. My entire family is filled with examples of the good and bad that come from being Black. “Anyone see Jesse AKA J Eazy AKA Jeezy AKA J Juice AKA G to the motha fuggin Y-eezy?....he was eatin Biscuits N Gravy...now he got Dough and Cheese.” Yes, and it’s a funny character but will never accomplish anything. If being Black in wrestling doesn’t get you anywhere playing Black wont either.

romello said...

I feel what you were trying to say in the larger sense.The stereotypes aimed at ALL races does get old. It is a result of laziness and fear. The fed could let a Black,Asian or Latino character get over without resorting to stereotyping the character,but i believe the powers that be over there are just too lazy to do it. It's easier to take someone as limited as Cena and push him,because the first time they heard the jailbait in the stands scream for him,they realized that they had something to work with. The Rock remains the blue print for getting a minority wrestler over. It will take a talented worker of color who knows how to work the mic as well as deliver the goods in the ring,not to mention having some sort of workable sex appeal. I honestly think that if the fed felt that they had a worker of color who embodied that,they would ride that horse for all it was worth because in the end it's all about money for them.

Carlito said...

With my Italian roots, I had seen the best (Bruno Sammartino in terms of being a great wrestler, and Santino Marella for his comedy genius and Little Guido for being a badass in the old ECW) to some of the worst (Salvatore Sincere as mentioned above, and even though he wasn't necessarily "outed" but Disco Inferno made me want to punch my TV) To the "in between" for the rest of the original F.B.I. in ECW, The Mamalukes (Mr. I like wearing a dress Big Vito and Johnny The Bull Stamboli)and I must say......there have been good and bad for every race out there.

Caucasian fans had Hogan, and The Horsemen....they also lay claim to Polka Dot Dusty Rhodes, Ultimate Warrior asking us to load up the spaceship with the rocket fuel and John Cena......(And just for Donnie.....Aldo Montoya, The Portuguese Man O' War)

The black fans can look up to Butch Reed (WCW days.......awesome badass) Ron Simmons (WCW Champion Ron Simmons) but to the bad, they have all those mentioned previously....as well as "DAMN!" which was funny the first time or two, but since.....

Latino's had Eddy in his prime, Rey Rey, (and the entire cruiserweight division....I mean come on El Dandy = Ratings)and at the same time........well Razor Ramon (Scott Hall playing Scarface?)And Chavo Jr. running around shaving his head and carrying a wooden horse? (Or Chavo Sr. helping his son, only for him to win the Cruiserweight title?)

True the Asian stars got shafted major.... in North America. In Japan, well I mean it's expected...but you had guys like Ultimo Dragon carrying a load of belts in the 90's..... but he was managed by Sunny Oono.....great character, but a pure stereotype.

And sorry to say, but my 3 lasting memories of TAKA are as follows
3) Being taught how to drive By Bradshaw and getting beating Gilligan style with JBL`s cowboy hat
2) His overdubbed “EVIL” Speeches (and of course Funaki`s Indeed!)
1) The bump he took in the 02 Rumble I believe where he got back dropped over the top and faceplanted to the mat...........as terrible as it sounds and as dangerous as it was, it`s the funniest thing I have ever seen on PPV.

So, while I sympathize with everyone, just remember.......YOU personally could have taken that bumped and be immortalized in wrestling history.....can we nominate this moment for the O Show HOF?

Thanks

Christopher Casúr said...

The last time an Asian held a title...The Great Khali was the World Heavyweight Champion in 2007.

*shudders*

TWK said...

When people say "Asian" they usually mean Japanese. Yes India is technically apart of Asia, but that's not the part they're talking about.

Khali does nothing for me and I can never seem to enjoy a Khali match.

I agree that alot of Japanese workers were VERY underrated by the Fed ie TAKA, Funaki, Ultimo Dragon, etc. In Japan, these guys are fucking icons, but here in the US, they barely get put over.

Yoshi seems to be the only former NJPW wrestler getting a decent push currently and I really hope within the next year or so, he gets the ECW strap(him, Benjamin or Ryder).