Naomi, Titus O’Neil & R-Truth speak on the importance of identity, culture and Black History Month
In the words of Carter G. Woodson, “If a race has no history … it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world.” As February marks the celebration of Black History Month, the significance behind Woodson’s famous words strengthen threefold. In honoring that message, WWE's black Superstars came together to discuss the significance of Black History Month, self-identity and opening the door to the future.
WWE.COM: How does your cultural background influence your role as a WWE Superstar?
NAOMI: It’s who I am. It’s everything about me – the way I speak, the way I dress, the way I look [and] my features. Everything about me showcases that I am an African-American woman and I’m proud of that.
TITUS O'NEIL: Based on growing up and seeing very few African-American Superstars – but the ones that I did see that were colorful were very entertaining – it’s humbling and an honor to be a WWE Superstar. But as an African-American on this platform, it’s bigger than just being a WWE Superstar.
R-TRUTH: To be representing African-Americans in this business is a fulfillment for myself, fulfillment to my culture, and a fulfillment to the world.
O'NEIL: It’s being able to have representation of African-American culture, race and entertainment, which for years has not always been equal.
TRUTH: Now you’re [starting] to see more African-Americans getting opportunities. You see more African-Americans holding championship titles. You see more African-Americans all around. We’re on trucks and billboards; we’re champions and role models. We’re being given more opportunities to be what we strive to be: equal to everybody else.
WWE.COM: How important is your identity in this journey as a sports-entertainer?
O'NEIL: My identity is very important. I think that anybody that shows representation from a different culture and race, whether it be African-American, Native American, Hispanic or otherwise, it gives generations of people, both young and old, an opportunity to see representation of themselves and goes to show the beauty in having a diverse product, a diverse culture, which hopefully will lend to diverse greatness throughout the world.
TRUTH: It influences it heavily. There’re not many blacks in this business, and the blacks that do get in this business and achieve it, they will see that it’s a different business now. Regardless of what nationality you are, you will want to see your nationality a champion or succeeding or somewhere striving to be where you want to be and they’re doing it. It gives you a sense of hope, a sense of ambition and a sense of “I can do it.”
WWE.COM: Naomi, is there added importance in being an African-American woman in a male-dominated industry?
NAOMI: Absolutely. I think it’s a challenge already being a woman in this business, and then there are other challenges as well with being an African-American woman that myself I’ve experienced and I still experience, but it makes you stronger and better. I’m also happy to be a part of WWE because there are amazing opportunities and platforms that I have been able to be given and they’ve allowed me to share my voice and they support us as African-Americans and I’m very proud to be part of a company that embraces that and their African-American talent.
WWE.COM: As leading examples of those who are breaking that proverbial glass ceiling, what kind of impression do you aim to leave on the younger generation watching you?
TRUTH: I love to have an impact on the young generation that’s watching me because the young generation that’s watching me is taking notes, and those notes can turn to a successful thing for them. I try to teach and preach, and I think the young generation can get a lot from learning from us because [they’re] going to be the leaders and future of this world.
NAOMI: I just want them to have a positive role model and see someone who they see within themselves and know that they could do it and be inspired by me. It gives me purpose.
O’NEIL: As a WWE Superstar in general, I hope to leave an example of a person that utilized his platform to greater the lives of many. But, for those that do come from African-American descent, I’ll hopefully leave them a positive depiction of an African-American on television and what an African-American in a leadership position should do, and what they should look like.
WWE.COM: How important is that role to you?
NAOMI: It’s extremely important. I have a lot of nieces, nephews and younger ones in my family that look up to me, love me and what I’m doing. To me, that means everything. I have stepchildren and I want them to see me as someone positive and someone that they love and respect.
O’NEIL: That role is very important to me. Being a father of two African-American sons, raising them in the United States of America to be great citizens, regardless of their race, color or creed, raising them to be respectful and respected, it is very important for me to continue living out my truth, living out my convictions, being fair and equal in my thinking, and understanding and being respectful of other people’s cultures. But at the same token, never losing track of my culture.
TRUTH: The more role models we have, the better human beings we have and the better world we have, and the better people we have.
WWE.COM: So, when you think of Black History Month, what thoughts come to mind?
O’NEIL: I live Black History Month 365 days a year. I appreciate all the companies, corporations and individuals that recognize the sacrifices and the monumental moments that helped shape this country to be the United States of America. I also find myself hoping that people would look far beyond just February to acknowledge the accomplishments and the significant contributions that African-Americans have made to this country.
NAOMI: I really hope that our struggles and our history is appreciated. At the end of the day, no matter what color you are or race you are or where you’re from, we should all love and respect each other because at the end of the day, we all bleed the same color.
TRUTH: I hope the WWE Universe learns how important it is for each culture to have that wholesome support for [one another]. I think the support from one culture to another brings the world together as a bigger and better place.