Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Personal Note to Wrestling Fans

Note: The following may contain some questionable language or words that may offend you. Please understand that I am going to use this in context and there is no intention to offend you personally. This is simply my personal opinion and is not meant to reflect the opinion of anybody else on Earth or beyond.
Ok, I get it. Wrestling fans are sometimes the scum of the Earth. Sometimes going to a wrestling event is like a real-life dramatization of Yes, there are some wonderful college-educated people at wrestling events. But then sometimes you have "those people." You know who I'm talking about. I'm sure we could talk for hours about some of those interesting people. My dad always used to say "What has 10 teeth and an IQ of 50?" The answer was "The first 5 rows in a wrestling arena."
Now of course we know that's not the case. We're not all like that. I am a college graduate. I take my mother who is a college graduate, my wife who is a licensed nurse and I know that there are other well-educated and refined people there.
But this is my request of the fans. I'm not going to say don't have fun. Heckle who you want. Boo who you want. Cheer who you want. Stand up, turn around and start chanting "Bingo" if the match is bad. You have paid your money. It is your right. But please... Can we leave race out of it?
The wrestling company I went to this past weekend has a wrestler who is Asian. He is great on the mic, a fun cowardly heel and has worked really hard to establish himself in this company. When he came out to the ring, there was a fan on the front row who asked for their "chicken & rice." I'm not sure how else we were supposed to take this, but I took at as "Oh, look, there's an Asian guy. He must make Chinese food."
Another fan behind me referred to him as "the Chinese guy." This bothers me. Maybe I'm hyper-sensitive to this, but that's just me. I don't know what nationality or ancestry this one wrestler was. I'm curious, but if I don't know, I don't say Chinese. Not in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There are substantial populations of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Laosian, Korean and other nationalities I can't name off the top of my head. I once worked with a Vietnamese fellow who would go apes*** if you called him Chinese.
I am redheaded. I could be Irish, American, Canadian, English, Welsh, Scottish or pretty much anywhere in Europe. But if I walk in public in the US, I'd appreciate somebody not mistaking me for an Irishman and asking me where my pot o' gold is. Or if they think I'm Scottish, I'd ask that they not ask me where my kilt is or call me "Groundskeeper Willie." There are enough reasons to heckle me and not to like me. Can we make my race not one of them?
I am a little disturbed about how we look at this racism. The fans who yelled this at this wrestler would have NEVER said this to a black man. They wouldn't have asked him where his watermelon was or to see him tap-dance. They didn't ask the hillbilly character if he slept with his sister or lived in a trailer. They didn't ask a Hispanic wrestler where their taco was. Why is it ok to heckle an Asian wrestler based on the color of his skin?
When will we start calling a spade a spade? When will we start acknowledging racism when it's there. Every year they play "A Christmas Story" on some Turner network. I watched the end of it this past year for the first time. I was really bothered at the end when the guys are singing at the end. Maybe nobody else hears it that way, but I saw and heard racism. It's just that nobody is ready to call it that.
Fans, my personal note to you. Let's take "Race" and remove it from the table. The same wrestler on the receiving end of this works at a Starbucks. If I wanted to heckle him, I could say, "Where's my latte? (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)" Even if you don't know the wrestler, what happened to a simple "You suck?" When did that lose it's power? I know this might be asking for too much, but Fans, let's class it up. We can be better than that.
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