Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Don’t Want To Be Black Anymore

Here is my question, can a person in America change their race or opt out of their racial classification? Can someone who is defined by others as black check another box on the questionnaire? The reason I ask this question is the events that happened over the last few weeks in the golf world concerning Tiger Woods. For those who don’t know there was a major controversy when a Golf Channel anchorwoman, Kelly Tilghman made the comment that the best thing young golfers could do was to take Tiger Woods out in an alley and lynch him. The anchorwoman was suspended for two weeks. Then in an effort to sensationalize the issue and sell some magazines the vice-president and editor of Golfweek, Mr. Dave Seanor decided it would be a good idea to dramatize the issue with a picture of a noose on the cover. Mr. Seanor was immediately fired.

In both cases many blacks and whites were outraged by the events and demanded swift and severe punishment. It should be noted that in both cases the offending parties apologized and stated there was no racist intent in their actions. While they may have exhibited poor judgment or poor choice of words there was no ill intent involved. Now here is where my question comes in, Tiger Woods the object of all of this attention was not offended by any of these events. Tiger stated that he knew and was friends with Ms. Tilghman and that no racist intent was involved in her comment. He stated that he spoke with her and accepted her apology. Upon hearing how Tiger responded to the incident many blacks were irate that he could so casually downplay the issue.

For his part Tiger was quick to forgive and forget, saying through his agent, Mark Steinberg, that the incident was a "nonissue" and later releasing a statement that said, "Regardless of the choice of words used, we know unequivocally that there was no ill intent in her comments."[1]

Many have asked why wasn’t Tiger more offended, if not for himself for the millions of other blacks affected by the comment. The answer is simple. Tiger Woods does not consider himself to be black. According to Tiger he is Cablinasian, a word he himself invented that combines his Caucasian, Black, and Asian heritage. It is not unusual for prominent blacks to “transcend” race and become more than black in the minds of white Americans, it helps assuage any guilt they may have of worshipping an inferior human being. And in some cases the black person may believe that they have in fact been able to opt out of being black into a new racial category. We have witnessed this phenomenon with many black conservatives as well as sports and entertainment stars.

So since Tiger Woods is not black the racial epithets and symbols of racism do not apply to him, so why would he be offended by them? Not only is he not offended by them but he doesn’t understand why other blacks would be. This attitude is similar to whites more so than blacks, “why can’t they just get over it”. So, I guess the answer to my question is yes you can change your racial classification if you are Tiger Woods and you made over 100 million dollars last year in endorsements alone playing a game largely played, viewed and supported by white people. However, for Pookie down on the block it isn’t so easy. When the cops roll up on him as hard as he might try to claim “Cablinasian” status the cops will see him as just another ni**er and they of course will deal with him based on those assumptions. As hard as we try to claim color-blindness the truth of the matter is we are not. We constantly make decisions about others based on their appearance and to deny that is deny our humanity.

So are other blacks upset with Tiger because he is able to overcome his “blackness”, like very light-skinned blacks in the past were able to “pass” for being white or is it something else entirely? The truth be told no one or no group wants to be dissed by a member of the group regardless of their identification with that group or not. I think it is especially painful when it is a member of that group. I remember the talk about O.J. when he was suddenly presented with the fact that he was black and how he embraced that fact when his ass was on the line. Tiger Woods can not be black if he chooses because of the world he lives in. The problem is for most other blacks that is not an option and so I think there is resentment in the fact that he can, because that means he is extremely rich but also that he would choose to do so. A similar case in point would be the infamous Michael Jackson.

So Tiger enjoy the ride and I hope you are never confronted with the ugly truth, but my experience here in America says different. But not to worry, you will always be a member of the family even if you deny us now. We have always been very forgiving, just ask OJ. Oh by the way to show how little any of this meant to him, Tiger went out last weekend and beat the brakes off everyone in the Buick Open winning by 8 strokes.


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