[Not raw like the diet, but you know, the weekly professional wrestling programming]
On tonight’s episode of ‘is it racist’, the March 19th edition of Monday Night Raw started off with a fairly politically charged topic. Most viewers know the backstory for this scenario, but for those who don’t I’ll keep it brief. Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns have a title match at WrestleMania coming up. Brock “decided” [remember it’s scripted] to no-show several events and Roman Reigns was livid.
Cut to: Roman Reigns is suspended for mouthing off to Vince McMahon for giving Brock special treatment. Basically, he was in trouble for being a hero amongst men to the boss that’s clearly incapable, rude, and downright wrong in most things that he does. On RAW, Roman showed up regardless of his suspension and decided to push the limits of his suspension: which leads to his arrest.
Oh yes folks, “U.S. Marshals” were sent to the ring to arrest Roman Reigns and oh, does it only get worse from there. I know what you’re thinking: white officers against a person of color never ends well, and you’re exactly right to think that. Art imitated life when officers needlessly tried to manhandle the already handcuffed Roman Reigns.
Which naturally led to a revolt on behalf of Reigns who took down all three officers.
While viewers at home were thinking “good finally a person of color isn’t left dead for a senseless reason”–Brock Lesnar decides to show up. Boy oh boy. Not only does he wait to finally show up when Roman Reigns is handcuffed: but he’s a complete barbarian about it. If you’re lost, I’ll give you a little recap: the person of color is getting screwed over and the white guy only shows up when he has a clear advantage and has to do minimal to none to get ahead.
Let us unpack that a little bit. It’s not a secret that Roman Reigns is a person of color. His Samoan lineage is frequently used to identify who he is, as a person, and as a performer. Race plays a large part into who Roman Reigns is and it has not only defined himself as a character, but how others view him. Paul Heyman has in fact used his race as a weapon against him, by regarding Roman and other Samoans as savages, uncivilized, brutalizing monsters.
[To be honest, that sounds a lot like Brock Lesnar, the white man, wouldn’t you agree?]
Because of Paul’s previous sentiments, WWE’s known history of how it treats its people of color, and in general, white America’s treatment of people of color: Roman has had everything against him from the very beginning based on a racial identity alone. Fans, whether they know it or not (and often white males, a quick glance into the audience or going to any show as a hispanic female will both tell you that and be a horrifying realization) play into the racial division. Fans don’t cheer for Roman: believing that he has everything handed to him. In reality it’s extremely different.
Roman, our person of color, is at Monday Night Raw every single week (give or take for extenuating circumstances) and appears at all of the house shows. He’s constantly on TV, going to events, and working hard for absolutely no praise: just because fans think he’s handed everything on a silver platter. They confuse Roman, with Brock. He leads a career where people firmly believe he hasn’t’ earned or worked for anything, common for people of color (think the horrifying black stereotype of the welfare queen).
Brock has the whitest of privilege I’ve ever seen since early Cena using African American Vernacular English. The man rarely if ever shows up to a house show or televised event. Most of the year he’s at home sitting pretty, showing little to no loyalty at all to the company paying him above the maximum for the bare minimum. The man ended the Undertaker’s streak as a part timer, outta the blue for no actually decent reason (and basically ruined the man). He wrestles nothing the way he first did in the WWE, and now resorts to two, maybe three moves in a boring rotation. That’s even if he wants to have the match (remember, his WrestleMania match with Dean Ambrose). He’s selfish, and if something doesn’t benefit him or he doesn’t want to do it, he puts minimal to no effort. He personifies white privilege in the scummiest of ways and yet the fans find him to be their knight on a shining silver platter.
Brock brutalizing Roman was a vicious imitation of real world issues. A man already down and subdued being brutalized without cause. Brock himself is the very being of white privilege: special privileges, never having to jump through hoops or prove yourself, has things handed to him, literally looks like a big white monster. It was a very politically charged segment, reflecting what we see every single day in our lives involving abuse of power and the treatment of minorities.
It’s interesting to see them pick up a subject like this for a variety of reasons. One, Vince McMahon is, surprise surprise, a white man. Two, take into consideration their ties with the Trump presidency and their support of the orange creature–it can say a lot about the head honcho’s own personal beliefs. It’s not a subject that can be handled with ease, so it’s surprising to see them take this route, especially as the opening segment for such popular programming.