December 11, 2009
Tiger Woods and the Race Obsessed
A few years back, Tiger Woods appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s popular day-time television show and told the host that he considered himself “
,” something he’d awkwardly concocted to make a point. Tiger insisted that his Caucasian, black, American Indian, and Asian heritage defied the simplistic color-coded racial logic that the government as well as the arbiters of racial authenticity demand we all fit into.
This hasn’t prevented many from hijacking the tawdry Tigergate scandal for their own racial reasoning. Despite Tiger defining his ethnic identity otherwise, many insist there’s no escape from the racial reservation and that he’s black – no matter what he has to say.
Tom Joyner, the country’s most-listened-to black radio personality, made Tiger the butt of his jokes – as have many of the nation’s late-night comics. But Joyner and other black voices put a racial spin on the evolving scandal. He said, “The question everyone in America wants to ask you (Tiger) is, how many white women does one brother waaant?”
While fascinated with celebrities and titillated by the tawdry nature of Tiger’s private life, most American’s appear to have little interest in the skin-color aspect of this story. This isn’t the question that being asked by most people, but it is the question that race-obsessed people are asking.
Many Americans are rejecting skin-color as legitimate criteria for dating and matrimonial decisions. In fact, while some may be focused on
relations, Americans have been doing a lot of “mixing” over the last several decades. And other than the diminishing numbers of white supremacists and other racialists of various sorts, kinds and skin colors, few care one way or the other about the increasing number of “mixed” couples in our midst.
Most simply see Tiger Woods as an amazingly talented athlete, one who fell prey to fame, power and the arrogance of celebrity. He joins the ranks of other shamed public figures like David Letterman, the late-night television host, John Edwards, the former presidential candidate, and Mark Sanford, the Governor of South Carolina (whose wife just announced she’s kicking his sorry butt to the curb).
Nonetheless, some appear compelled to insert themselves into the private lives of others. Denene Millner, a black female author, said, “Why is it when they get to this level … they tend to go directly for the nearest blond.” “They” are of course black celebrities and athletes. A better question is why does she think it’s her business to question the highly-personal choices people make in selecting their bed-mates – in or out of marriage?
And what would this woman suggest as a corrective mechanism for what she appears to think is inappropriate racial behavior – the re-insertion of Jim Crow era anti-miscegenation laws?
To put a finer point on this - why is it that we give someone like her a pass when she asserts essentially that the only correct choice for a black man is a woman who shares his skin color? The “stick with your own kind” racial reasoning is precisely what America’s white supremacists and racial alarmists have argued since pre-civil rights days.
The Associated Press wrote a story on the Tiger Woods scandal which quoted one black women who said that “had Barack Obama had a white wife, I would have thought twice about voting for him.”
There you have it … the old bugaboo of racial authenticity raises its ugly head. Despite Obama’s biracial heritage, she and others seem prepared to argue that real black men only sleep with “sisters.” Truth be told, Tiger Woods was always viewed with suspicion by the black race police because he’d refused an orthodox racial identity and married a Swedish swimsuit model.
There’s no doubt Woods is a scoundrel, a fallen hero with a flawed character who deserves most of the scorn that’s been heaped upon him. However, other than a raised-eyebrow over the “hoochi-mama” aspect of it all, the skin or hair color of his women of choice have no rightful role in this sorry episode.
Forty-five years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, there is a great deal of irony in the fact that there are some who continue to uphold some of the worst aspects of pre-civil rights America – and laughably believe it to be some sort of “progressive black politics.”