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Listening to the Black voices of wrestling

We (both the Cageside Seats and larger internet wrestling communities) spent a great deal of time yesterday addressing and responding to social media posts from White people with unempathetic or flat out bad takes on the civil unrest occurring in the U.S. in response to years of police brutality against Black Americans.

One of the most consistent things we’ve heard Black people ask of White people during the past week is that we listen to them. Even while others are trying to silence them, and even when it makes us (I’m White) uncomfortable.

In an attempt to honor that request, here are a collection of posts from Black wrestlers and others in the business

Writer, editor and podcaster Andreas Hale’s Twitter timeline has many more responses to this tweet. They’re all worth reading. I’ve pulled these three from folks within the wrestling business.

“I was no older than 8 when a white girl called me a “nigger” in daycare. Probably sometime after I was building a fort with tree branches & playing kickball.” - Big E

“Kindergarten. A little boy refused to let me play with him and 2 others. He told me that he didn’t play with niggers. I didn’t know what that meant. I had to ask my freckle faced, green eyed, red haired mother. I still remember her face. Her concern. Her tears.” - MVP

“I was in kindergarten learning about fruits and vegetables, probably 6 years old. Teacher asked us what our favorite fruit was and a kid said ‘I know your favorite is a banana because you’re a monkey.’ It didn’t even hit me that it was messed up, i just knew the whole class laughed and the teacher sent the kid to detention and made him apologize. It really ain’t hit me until years later.” - Kazeem Famuyide (former WWE creative team member)

There are plenty more I’m missing, I’m sure. Please add those in the comments.

And to my fellow White people, remember that it’s not Black people’s responsibility to educate us on their experience, or the history of racism. It’s not hard to find books (E retweeted a very good selection here) and free resources online (Tez & Bianca have us there) that can help, or ask a White person who’s already doing anti-racism work.

Most of all though, just listen. And when you feel defensive or uncomfortable, swallow that and listen more.

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