Apparently Sergio Garcia made a racially charged comment at Tiger Woods recently, and as usual, we have to pretend it’s a big deal. Garcia suggested that Woods would have “fried chicken” if they had dinner together, and Woods immediately responded that the comment was ‘wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate,’ because obviously, he’s a sensitive guy. This is not the first remark of this nature that Woods has endured, and it won’t be the last.
Golf has a terrible reputation out of all the major sports for racism. It was to our horror that when Woods began his career, it exposed how utterly homogenous golf was. Memberships excluded Asians, Jews and Blacks (all of who had various lawsuits pending) from club memberships. 95% of club memberships nationally were white.
This was in 2006, mind you.
One famous golfer, who of course wanted to remain anonymous, was quoted as saying, “Golf is a white man’s game. Blacks don’t belong on a golf course. That’s what basketball courts are for.” He isn’t alone in that sentiment.
When some tournaments tried to address the problem by requiring clubs to allow minority members to participate in tournament, clubs dropped out because they couldn’t participate. So this is a clear cut situation, right? This is when, as a black man I play the race card.
Well… this situation is different. This isn’t Jackie Robinson or Ernie Davis, men of grace and class who didn’t deserve the treatment they got. Those were pretty straight forward scenarios . Tiger Woods is what it be like if Barry Bonds was the first black man to play baseball.
I wanted to root for Tiger Woods. He’s really good and he’s a pioneer. But he’s utterly unlikable. It is rather well documented the Woods is incredibly cheap, refusing to tip service staff or pay bills when others could, despite his fantastic wealth. His addiction to pornography became an issue with golfers he shared a hotel room with (and for his wife), and Woods became known for various infractions of golf’s informal code of personal decorum.
This isn’t a list of atrocities, I suppose, but its exactly the sort of thing that bigots were worried would happen when they let a black person on their course. Every tantrum he threw, every surly interview, every thoughtless treatment of the media, other golfers, caddies or whoever, made it harder for every Jew, Asian or Black person that wanted to play golf with everyone else. He made THEM look right.
You tried to look for things to offset his awfulness, but there was no relief. Tiger Woods started a charity for inner city kids to play golf. Not something that seems particular urgent, but it seems cynical to criticize something someone is doing altruistically. But by Woods refusing to address bigotry in golf, those kids will grow up and be excluded from playing courses. So what’s the point?
Then Woods made the infamous statement that he considered himself ‘Cablinasian.’ Woods went on to explain that he was one quarter Chinese, one quarter Thai, one quarter African American, one eighth Native American and one eighth Dutch.
That’s right. The ultimate indignity. The first notable black golf player didn’t think he was black.
I will let all non-black people in on a couple of secrets.
None of us are purely black. We haven’t been black since we got off the ship. All of us have a varied heritage. Personally, I have quite a bit of Florida Seminole and Blackfoot tribe in my family. Also, we have Scottish and Irish roots. But I’m black. Earl Woods perceived himself as black.
The other secret? Goes back to the 3/5ths law. The 3/5ths law was a compromise in 1787 between the Southern and Northern states that for voting purposes, blacks counted as 3/5ths of a man. Over time, this became a sort of shorthand regarding blacks in general, blacks were regarded as 3/5ths of a man across the board. Informally, when a white person had offspring with a black person, that child was perceived as black.
Maybe that’s not fair. Maybe we should regard these children as biracial and maybe this generation or the next will handle this issue more appropriately. But for the golf courses that Tiger Woods plays on, he’s considered black, whether he likes it or not.
And he doesn’t. If you see a picture of Tiger Woods on a date with a black woman, it was Photoshopped. Woods goes so far as to reject anyone of ethnicity, going exclusively after blond white women. In the interest of fairness, I suppose you can’t help who you’re attracted to, but again, it plugs into the darkest of stereotypes, and Woods doesn’t care.
And he got married. His wife was the ultimate Nordic beauty, and he settled down and had a couple children.
And then he blew it, in the most humiliating fashion possible. He didn’t merely cheat on his wife. There would have been a precedent for that. Woods cheated on his wife with hundreds of women, all white, overwhelmingly blond, and less attractive than the wife he already had. He pursued the porn stars he’d become obsessed with, texting them thousands of time, not understanding that women who had sex for money would easily snitch on him for money.
The texts showed a desperate pervert, a man who had to buy sex, arranged by a woman named Rachel Uchitel. Uchitel was an attractive brunette, arguably the only woman in the entire mess that you could have somewhat understood his desire for. Naturally, Woods didn’t. Mostly its because it looks like he had no idea how to talk to women. Every description of Woods agrees on one thing – he’s a juvenile.
Not only was Woods a self-hating black man… he didn’t have any game.
At this point, Tiger Woods is a freak show, quite nearly at Michael Jackson/O.J. Simpson status. And they know it. The Fuzzy Zoellers, the Sergio Garcias, the Steve Williams, they all know what they’re seeing. And that’s why they’re taking shots at him. That’s why they don’t respect him.
Tiger Woods is not a put upon black man. He’s a nigger. There’s a difference.
Look at Public Enemy. Chuck D is an intelligent black man. Flavor Flav is a nigger. They get treated differently. I make fun of Flavor Flav, all the time, he is a reasonable object of mockery. If Sergio Garcia had made that comment to say – John Lewis, there would be a riot, and I’d be holding the tar, and Tom would be holding the feathers. But Sergio said it to Tiger, and I can’t defend him. He’s an embarrassment to me as a black man. And niggers get clowned.
I know its a horrible word. I don’t use it lightly. I’ve been called a nigger repeatedly, and I’ve dealt with racism. Its not something you say for shock value. But Tiger Woods embodies nearly every negative quality that a black man in his situation can have. And his behavior is making people that are already not great about race completely act up.
And that affect me. Once my knees fall apart completely, where am I going to be able to play golf?