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Here’s a fun fact. Growing up, I was a big fan of WWF wrestling and one of my all-time favorite matches was when Hulk Hogan faced the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI. The year was 1990 and Hogan and Warrior were arguably the biggest names in the industry. The bout, billed as the “Champion vs Champion” match, was the headline for that year’s Wrestlemania and set an attendance record for the Toronto Skydome as 67,678 fans watched Ultimate Warrior defeat Hulk Hogan to be the first wrestler in the company’s history to simultaneously hold the Intercontinental championship and World Heavyweight championship.
Before the match officially began, the late great WWF commentator Gorilla Monsoon described the clash of the two sports entertainment titans as the “irresistible force meets the immovable object.” Thirty years later and Gorilla’s word choice is an accurate depiction of the persistent grappling between the legacy of white supremacy and the forces that are vehemently fighting to put it down for the count. If the “irresistible force” equals the demands for a more progressive and equitable union and the “immovable object” equals the resistance and entitlement of white supremacy/white nationalism, then this unprecedented history is, among many things, the continuation of an epic battle to see which side taps out first.
However, unlike in the world of professional wrestling, this brawl does not have the predictability of a scripted outcome. White supremacy has been training for a cultural clash for quite some time in anticipation of the moment its victims would strike back and is not above instigating anarchy to disrupt any modicum of peace and civility. The United States is currently led by a world-class heel, and for all my non-wrestling enthusiasts, a “heel” is the villain of a match who will go to any extreme to emerge victorious. By that definition, I’m sure you can surmise that there’s no better example than Donald John Trump. Hell, he even had real life practice being one.
And because Trump tag teams white nationalism with white supremacy, his rhetoric stokes what could be compared to “roid rage” in white folks who believe their country is overrun with immigrants, Blacks, queer and trans people and feminists. It is these “warriors” of (no holds barred) whiteness that do shit like show up at grocery stores in Nazi facemasks to thumb their nose at social distancing mandates, conflate fascism with patriotism and make public mockeries of Black victims of police violence. They are the brute beneficiaries of an administration that has (further) emboldened their identity to pounce on anyone that represents anything “other”.
So what is the best strategy to fight the systemic muscle of white supremacy? What exactly are the best battle tactics when the “heel” is your council member, or mayor, or governor, or police chief, or DA…or president? Is there a finishing move that can be applied to drive a centuries-old social construct into submission? And is the expectation of voting and marching as a formidable opponent against the smash mouth violence of structural inequality, asking for our pain to persist?
I’m not sure, but what I do know is that in 1990, the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan was pinned by the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI. Hogan was considered to be the immovable object but by the end of the match, his title was no longer his. My nine and a half year old self could not believe what I was witnessed. “The Hulkster” never lost a title match. But he also never faced a determined Ultimate Warrior, and as a result, his dominance was moved aside and a new champion was crowned.
It is the duty of all who believe in equality, justice and liberation to never be pinned down or submit to the perceived strength of white supremacy. Especially not in a time when it is on the ropes in ways it has never been. Before it is defeated, it will attempt every signature move in its arsenal. But we can emerge victorious as warriors in the fight for a just world that is deserving of our fighting spirit.