By now, you’ve probably seen the photo Big E Tweeted out last night (Dec. 13). In it, the three members of Raw tag team champions The New Day pose with fellow WWE titleholders, Women’s champ Sasha Banks and cruiserweight king Rich Swann.
All five performers are black. Big E tagged the Tweet with #BlackExcellence.
Many fans got it immediately. Others saw the hashtag as racist.
Kofi Kingston wrote the following and posted it to his Twitter account to explain what it means to the men and woman who are in the picture:
While much of the feedback has been positive, there has also been a lot of negative response with regard to the picture we posted illustrating Rich, Sasha, Xavier, E, and myself wielding our championship titles. Perhaps this is because many are in question of the motivation behind the post:
It does not come from a place of malice, spite, or gloating. It comes from a place of joy and a place of happiness. We have a very strong sense of pride in being the Black People simultaneously holding championships in WWE. Historically in our nation, there was period in time where this would not have happened, followed by a long period of time where it became possible, but had not actually materialized. Now, we are in the time in which the possibility has become a reality.
Why does this matter?
It matters because even though it is hard for some to fathom, the fact is that there are many people who feel as though it is impossible to attain certain goals because of the color of their skin. This is why we must acknowledge the color of ours in this instance. It is important for people of all races, but particularly people of color, and especially the youth, to see that it is entirely possible to achieve your dreams and aspirations regardless of your race. We are a shining example who want to be a source of motivation for others to believe in themselves and do the same.
Excellence is not the same as supremacy. #BlackExcellence is not meant to be divisive. For even if you do not fall into the specific category, you can still take enjoyment in our pride, because in the biggest picture, in a society that often focuses on the negative aspects of race relations, what has transpired with the 5 of us speaks positively to the progress we've made as a nation.
While some have said that if AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Luke Harper, Alexa Bliss and the Miz had posted something similar, it would be shouted down as unacceptable, so this should be, too, that ignores the fact that no one is surprised five white wrestlers are champion at the same time, because it’s always been possible.
No matter how far race relations in America have progressed, or how much better pro wrestling’s presentation of minority performers and characters is compared to the past, it’s still noteworthy that five non-white people are representing the biggest wrestling company in the world with championships. E, Kofi, Xavier Woods, Banks and Swann wanted to recognize and proudly celebrate that.
And because it’s now possible doesn’t change that there are people of all races who don’t think black people can acheive greatness, whether because of prejudices about non-whites and their abilities, or doubts about the system allowing them to prove their excellence.
The five people in that photo are saying to everyone, and especially young people, that they’re living proof greatness is achievable.
And that is excellent.