I have tried to hold my tongue on the recent issues regarding Tiger Woods’ repeated violation of his marital vows. I prefer not to talk about other people’s business, and at the heart of it, a union has been irreparably damaged and the condition of a family is in peril.
I think the main reason I originally did not want to dedicate a blog post to the Tiger Woods scandal was because, at first, I did not understand the media’s fascination with the story. I had forgotten about the Tiger Woods machine, the “All American” story of the son of a Black military veteran and an Asian housewife, who through hard work, strict parenting and copulation, created a young man who was another sport-related solution to America’s race problem. He was not (only) black, (unless you subscribe to the antebellum “one drop” method of defining race, which apparently, most Americans still do), he was multiracial America. He was pre-Barack Obama, a seemingly spotless candidate for the acceptable minority prize. He was a combination of Black athleticism, Asian work ethic and White relatibility. He was Corporate America’s pre-millennium wet dream. Remember those ” I Am Tiger Woods” commercials? I-RON-NEE! (Columnist Jacquielynn Floyd wrote a great article about Tiger’s as a corporate entity and manufactured role model).
Tiger’s “blackness” issue was always fascinating to me. Not in his vehement denials of being “just black” (Although, according to a text he sent to one of his alleged mistresses, Tiger was more than happy to be black when it came to advertising his sexual prowess). I was most intrigued by the need for the Black community to “have” Tiger. Black America seemed so eager to embrace Tiger, even in the face of his racial indifference. Dave Chappelle’s “Racial Draft” skit could not have been more spot on. It was like Black America needed Tiger, and other stories of accomplishment to validate our worth as people.
|The Racial Draft|
Dr Na’im Akbar is an African American psychologist who writes and researches on the issue of mental oppression in African Americans. Aside from his views of homosexuality, I think his assessment of the mental process of the “conditioned” African American is pretty spot-on.Â He spoke at a conference I attended in 2006 about the ways in which African Americans have tried to gain social equality and access over the years. One of these is through “firsts” and “accomplishments.” Dr. Akbar claims that Black people have seen “firsts” in particular as a way to increase our social value. The assumption being, the reason that racism exists is because white people don’t think that black people have anything to contribute to society. Thus, if one of us becomes the first Black Oscar Winner/PGA Tour Champion/President/etc, it will bring Black people one step closer to broader social acceptance.
In a perfect world, the interpersonal failings and professional downfall of Tiger Woods would only matter to him and his loved ones. But we are in the United States of America. We are not post-racial. Minorities are not judged solely on their individual merits. If any of us chooses to measure our personal and cultural self-worth based on a media-generated (s)hero, that image will be as affected by their failings as their successes, in fact, even more so. Now, Tiger is no longer a multiracial answer to America’s race problem. He is an arrogant, hyper-sexual, unethical “black” man who plays professional sports. The black community doesn’t need anymore of those.