CM Punk Delivers Powerful Message About Racism and White Privilege on ‘WWE Backstage’

In Wednesday’s Hot Clicks: CM Punk’s impassioned speech about the state of the world, an NBA announcer loses his job over an idiotic tweet and more.
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“This country has a problem. That much I know.”

A TV show produced by WWE and Fox is probably the last place you’d expect to hear a compelling speech about racial equality, but leave it to Phil “CM Punk” Brooks to get really, really real. 

Punk is a regular panelist on Fox’s WWE Backstage, a show usually dedicated to analyzing and going behind the scenes of WWE programming. But there are more important things going on in the world than Raw and SmackDown and so a portion of the show was spent discussing the ongoing worldwide protests against racism and police brutality. 

Black WWE Hall of Famers Mark Henry and Booker T weighed in to express hope that the protests might bring about meaningful change in the world.

When it was Punk’s turn to speak, you could tell how deeply the movement has affected him. He spoke uninterrupted for three minutes not just about how he feels about the protest but what he and people like him can do to make a difference. 

(The video is only available in the U.S. so click here if you’re in another part of the world.)

Here’s a transcript:

“This country has a problem. That much I know. I’m here to tell white people, you need to listen to your Black brothers and sisters and you need to understand where they’re coming from. It’s hard to try to walk in somebody’s shoes, to try to understand where they come from, but there’s almost two Americas.

“When I get pulled over, I’m nervous I’m going to get a ticket. I don’t want to live somewhere where, Mark, if your son gets pulled over he’s worried he’s going to get murdered.

“I’m just here to tell white people you probably need to shut up more, and you certainly need to listen more. There is a problem, and the paradox is that the only way to deal with intolerance is with intolerance. If you are a white person, you more than likely are privileged. Use that privilege and support your Black brothers and sisters, especially now, because we need it. 

“We live in a time where hatred is stoked at the highest level. I don’t like things that I see and I do what I can to stop it. I think I’m hopefully using my voice for good. Fascism and racism cannot win, and if you’re struggling to come up with a way that you can help, the easiest way to help is to combat that intolerance with intolerance. There’s no room for it. 

“How I relate that all to myself, even though none of this is truly about me, is that the first tattoo I ever saw in my life was a number on my grandfather’s arm. He rode horseback toward Nazi Panzer tanks and now it’s 2020 and we live in a world where the president says that Nazis are ‘very fine people.’ And you can’t walk that back and you can’t tell me he meant something different. 

“If you’re white, use your voice. Protect your Black brothers and sisters, and protect the people who this country was not built for. They may say it was, but everybody has a different experience. And just listen more.”

Punk has always been an incredible presence on the microphone—you don’t have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy his iconic 2011 “Pipebomb” promo—and it’s a blessing that he still has a platform to deliver passionate monologues, even more so when they’re designed to try to make the world a better place. 

A lot of white people (myself included) are wondering right now what they should be doing to help make life easier for people who don’t enjoy the same privileges as them. Staring down well-ingrained, systemic problems can be daunting, but Punk is right—listening and speaking out is a good place to start. 

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