In the wake of his idol’s downfall, all my little brother posted today was, “Hulk Hogan, Say it ain’t so.”
I heard the news this morning while brushing my teeth. My heart sank, but only briefly. Of all my siblings, I thought of this brother first.
I had hoped for only a minute that it was all blown out of proportion. I had hoped that Hulk Hogan had just participated in the very modern back-and-forth that is tentatively allowing some non-African-Americans to use the “N-word” in the way that some have controversially appropriated it, with the stinger pulled and the venom erased.
It was not to be. Hulk Hogan admitted that he used it in the way it was originally intended, all malice and hatred intact.
This little brother of mine is now 30-something years old, married with four beautiful children, honorably discharged from the U.S. Army and a good-spirited hard-working American man. Not a child and not naïve by any measure. Still idealistic like me, but not naïve.
But being his big sister, I still think of his overarching wrestling passion when I think of him, of going with him to the loud and glitzy wrestling matches at the Coliseum in Virginia, of his wrestling trophies won with his baby brother before school was out, of all of the plastic WWE wrestling men he treasured through the years that we had to keep picking up off the bedroom floor, action figures we had to press an airlines to locate one year because they misplaced our luggage. Nobody cared about the clothes.
I still know better than to call him on the phone when there’s a wrestling match going on.
So the fact that one of his WWE “heroes” has been discovered to hold unfounded hatred against us, for no other reason than our skin color is a richer brown (actually, my brother is lighter than Hulk Hogan), even though Hulk Hogan received so much love from Black fans along with white, Asian, native, Hispanic, everyone – this hurts. It’s not surprising anymore, really, but it hurts.
Again, my brother is not a child. He grew up here in this same America that has such a volatile up-and-down history with race relations. With now being one of those lows due to the seeming open season on African Americans, and also to another degree on Hispanics and Native Americans, not much now is surprising. But it doesn’t keep this from being yet another spiritual let-down.
It’s a pain akin to when we were kids and, after starting to adore Elvis Presley movies and telling people about our newfound fandom, we were told that infamous quote that Snopes.com refutes, “All Negroes can do for me is to buy my records and shine my shoes.”
Back then, there weren’t any secretive videos to prove or disprove statements like that. Now there are, and apologies come cheap at the moment.
Oh well. It’s so sad. But we have way more important manifestations of our present state of emergency in race relations than one more felled hero spouting the “N-Word.”
[Reprinted from my Sidelines writing.]