WWE Racial Discrimination Lawsuit: Shocking Details Behind Alleged Racist Pitches
Apollo Crews’ exaggerated Nigerian accent was the subject of an explosive lawsuit against WWE.
Former WWE writer Britney Abrahams is suing WWE alleging discrimination and retaliation during her time with the promotion.
The lawsuit, which names Vince McMahon and other company employees (Chris Dunn, Ryan Callahan, Jennifer Pepperman, Christine Lubrano, Mike Heller and Stephanie McMahon ), cites “offensively racist and stereotypical jargon used in WWE scripts.” Abrahams—who claims she was fired over taking a commemorative chair despite her male Caucasian colleagues doing the same with no recourse—is seeking reinstatement, damages, declaratory judgment, and an injunction restraining defendants from engaging in such unlawful conduct.
WWE declined to comment on these accusations.
Britney Abrahams Alleges Racist Pitches In WWE Writer’s Room
Abram’s raised very serious allegations of racially insensitive pitches from within the WWE writers’ room against Black talent, Muslim talent and women. Allegations include:
WWE’s Complicated History With Black Writers
The Britney Abrahams lawsuit is WWE’s latest controversy involving a Black writer, who come few and far between the promotion’s writers’ room. And while it is encouraging that WWE appears to be hiring more Black women than ever before of late (even if it is a small handful), WWE—and the pro wrestling business—is no stranger to racial controversy.
The wrestling industry was built on foreign heels who relied on low-hanging-fruit stereotypes to evoke emotion from fans. WWE has had success with these characters, such as The Iron Sheik, the Bolsheviks and even babyfaces like the Junkyard Dog, who are made to portray racially insensitive caricatures of themselves.
WWE writers’ room have been known to be predominately male and predominately white, which leads to an environment with a limited perspective where potentially racist pitches and ideas can go unchecked.
WWE has employed Black writers in the past but not without its share of complications. Legendary comedian Patrice O’Neal—who was known to burn bridges throughout his brilliant career—briefly wrote for WWE in the early 2000s before admittedly getting “fired quick.” During an appearance on the “Opie and Anthony Show,” O’Neal shared a story about Vince McMahon demanding that former WWE Superstars D’Lo Brown (who is African-American) and Tiger Ali Singh (of Indian descent) wear turbans.
“I was in there, and the Arab character was like ‘do we have to wear these turbans? Because my family said they’re desecrating…’” and McMahon was like ‘you’re going to wear the f—king turbans,’” said O’Neal. “It was him and D’Lo Brown. ‘You and D’Lo are gonna put on those f—king turbans, I don’t give a s—t about desecration.’”
Kenice Mobley is a standup comedian and former WWE writer who was fired after mispronouncing Bobby Lashley’s name on a podcast. As is old hat for Black women in wrestling, Mobley was attacked on Twitter by pro wrestling’s rabid fanbase as a result.
WWE’s Racial Progress Stunted By Old Habits
WWE has made attempts to correct its long history of marginalizing minorities in the wrestling business. Top stars include an eclectic roster of men and women such as Roman Reigns—the promotion’s current WWE undisputed universal champion—Bianca Belair, Asuka, The New Day, Bobby Lashley and Sami Zayn.
After finally crowning its first African-born WWE champion in 2015 (Kofi Kingston), Bobby Lashley followed up by becoming a rare Black WWE champion in 2021. Big E became the first Black Money in the Bank winner that same year, and he successfully cashed in on Lashley during the September 13, 2021 broadcast of WWE Raw.
This marked the first time in history WWE crowned two consecutive Black WWE champions.
But simply giving minorities imaginary brass rings is not nearly enough to correct pro wrestling’s decades-long institution of racism and marginalization. This is something AEW is currently learning the hard way as they continue to struggle to promote Black talent. It would be surprising to see AEW involved in a lawsuit about racist pitches, because they don’t even seem to have any ideas for Black talent to begin with, let alone racially insensitive ones.
Impact Of WWE’s Latest Lawsuit
There’s no telling just how far WWE’s latest lawsuit will go, however history may be on WWE’s side. While allegations of racial discrimination against WWE are ugly, a famous court case involving comedy writers of Friends suggest WWE writers may fall within creative license. The broad definition of “creative license” could condone course and hostile pitches as long as the racially insensitive behavior is not specifically directed at colleagues.
The 2006 case Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television Productions unanimously ruled in favor of the sitcom writers, who faced allegations of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment through a “constant barrage of sexual talk, jokes, drawings, and gestures that demeaned and degraded women.” The court did not insulate the “creative workplace” of a writers’ room from harassment.
Many within the entertainment industry felt that a win for the plaintiff would cripple a writer’s ability to express themselves freely and creatively in order to comply with anti-discrimination laws. The defendants argued that their freedom to say literally anything is central to the creative process, and they were deemed right in a court of law.
This article was originally published by Alfred Konuwa. Click here to read the original article.