In an appearance on The Sessions with Renee Paquetteformer WWE writer Kazeem Famuyide talked about diversity and wrestling and how it can continue to grow. Famuyide was thrilled to talk about the topic, one he feels is generating must discussion right now, says growing diversity in wrestling all starts at the top.

“I’m so glad you asked that because I feel that’s a huge topic right now, especially with both companies,” Famuyide said. “Before I say anything, I definitely want to give props to the fact that this isn’t a taboo conversation anymore. When I first got my WWE interview with HR, they were like ‘is there any questions you want to ask us?’ I was like ‘you know, it’s a little white in here. We going to start to get more folks that look like me?’ To their credit, they were like ‘we’re very aware of this. We’re working on it.’ I saw a couple of the creative folks at SummerSlam in Vegas and there’s definitely way more women, definitely way more people of color.

“I think that’s where it starts. I think WWE and AEW and Impact have all done some really good jobs as far as taking steps forward and changing that. There could always be more done. But I think it really starts in the people making the decisions, to be honest. At the end of the day, this is an entertainment product, and a lot of times we try to pretend this is more than a scripted content series every single week. And if you want to connect with certain people in a genuine and authentic way, you got to have people in there who are making those decisions or speaking or being able to convey what certain folks want to say without sounding like you’re putting on a costume or something like that. I think it starts there.”

A big story in regards to diversity in wrestling recently was Big Swole’s thoughts on her time with AEW, followed by AEW President Tony Khan’s controversial response. Kazeem Famuyide pointed out all the good Khan had done for wrestling but called his remarks damaging, and believes Khan shouldn’t have responded at all.

“I saw what Tony Khan said about Big Swole this past week,” Famuyide said. “And I think there’s a big disconnect with a lot of wrestling fans because they don’t understand why what he said is so damaging. There are already so many things that black women are fighting against when they’re trying to get into this business. And when you have somebody like him who is so powerful and who has done great things for professional wrestling. I’m so glad AEW exists, I’m so glad there’s an alternative. But I think his biggest faux paux right there was you’re doing more damage by speaking on that than just doing the work.

“If he would’ve just not responded, and it’s not even like what Swole said was anything too nefarious. She was just being honest and speaking from her soul. Now, I think unknowingly, he’s put this weird spotlight on him where even if that’s not how you think black wrestlers are spotlighted, the people who do think that are attacking this woman every single day. She’s somebody that goes hard for everyone. She’s not just someone who’s just ‘I’m AEW, rah rah rah’, she’s for everybody. So now there are certain people that make it seem like ‘oh, well Swole’s leaving because she didn’t get this push or that push.’ Nah, it’s never been like that.”

Kazeem Famuyide made it a point to mention AEW had made strides in adding diversity to its roster, and ultimately thinks Tony Khan can grow from these mistakes. He does believe Tony Khan needs to make more strides however, going back to his point that continued growth in diversity all starts in positions of power.

“There was a time when AEW had no notable black wrestlers, and now at the time you pick up a Lio Rush, who is huge,” Famuyide said. ” You’ve got his tag team partner (Dante Martin), you’ve got Hobbs, you’ve got a lot of guys over there. Jade Cargill’s a specimen. You’ve got so many talented black performers. I was having a conversation with somebody about this earlier today. Black people have loved wrestling for so long, it’s been hard for wrestling to love black people back. And that was an example of that. When you’re the boss of a company, you know Vince would never say ‘oh we fired this guy because he wasn’t good. And look at all these guys we put on our third and fourth most important shows.’ That’s not the best way to go about it.

“I do give him credit because he is taking strides. He’s young, he’s going to make mistakes and I’m not going to hold anyone’s feet to the fire for making a mistake. But he’s got to know better that somebody that powerful is going to do more harm than good when he’s answering that instead of just being about his actions and just doing the work and knowing nobody is asking to put the World Championship on a black performer right then and there. We just want competent storytelling, we just want black performers in places where they can truly shine. We just want to be entertained the way you want to be entertained. But as I said, it all starts with the people that are making the decisions. Whether it’s creative, executive positions, the owners. Once it starts there, it all trickles down from there.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Sessions with Renee Paquette and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription

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