It's all my mom's fault that I returned to watching Raw on Monday nights. Okay, maybe it was a little bit of nostalgia for those high school days where I'd watch over the phone with the bestest friend and boo. Nevertheless, I'm in that thang at 9:00pm.
The beginning of last night's episode resulted in an "attach palm to forehead and breathe deeply" moment. R-Truth, one of the few black wrestlers in the WWE, has (for me at least) secured his spot as this generation's Booker T. Truth's theme song "What's Up" garnered an eyebrow raise. But when dude talked, I had a moment.
The scenario went like this: R-Truth was in line to get a shot at the WWE Championship along with John Cena (who, soon enough, will get his own Mad Minute spot). He was talking to the crowd and another wrestler, John Morrison, interrupted and suckered him out of his title bout. A duped R-Truth royally whooped Morrison's ass after losing his title shot.
My question: what is the worth of blackness in professional wrestling? I don't wanna say or really believe that R-Truth is a hambone coon. But last night he was coon-ish, perpetuating nearly every stereotypical rendering of black masculinity with the exception of his hair. THAT looked like a job by Da Brat's "So Funkdafied" stylist. All black everything - jeans, wrist and arm bands...skin. Topped off with a white spray painted "What's Up?" on his ass. Classy.
On the one hand, R-Truth signifies the violent hypermasculine black body that is both commodifed and perpetuated in American (pop) culture. What becomes complicated, however, is how his particular hyperviolent and hyperaware black male body exists and is contextualized within a voyeuristic space of a few things - (homo)socialism and eroticism, violence, and whiteness. It's a murky undertaking to attempt sort out the discourse needed to properly discuss the implication of body and identity politics and blackness in a very white pro wrestling arena (pun intended).
That's what's up.