Tiger Woods accepted the US Presidential Medal of Freedom from his friend and business partner Donald Trump yesterday and was as the NY Times described him his “normally sedate” “Caublasian” self. But some were hoping that Woods would not accept or say something about the need to end racism or something on behalf of those suffering from discriminatory policies. But that would not be in character.
Tiger Woods is not Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, or Colin Kaepernick. Woods is the shining example: of “bourgeois man”; “Madison Avenue Man”, the epitome of the individual. He is not a part of the group and like OJ Simpson who used to remark, “I am not Black I’m OJ,” Tiger is not Black, but Tiger, just Tiger. So to no one’s surprise he did not say anything controversial yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that and is unlikely to in the near future.
Woods is best described as a paradox, on the one hand, White folks can point to him and say look how far Black people have progressed, but on the other hand, one can point to Tiger and say racism is such an enduring problem in American society, that a Black man, a famous Black man (with the complexion of your average chocolate candy bar) contorts himself in every conceivable way to disavow that which is obvious: that he is a Black man. Woods disassociation and denial of all things Black points to one unassailable fact: he hates himself!
In a word, Woods is an “Afrophobe,” that is he fears, dislikes, disowns and denies any and everything having to do with Blackness, and consequently Black people.
Ironically, it is the fact that he is indeed Black by birth, complexion, and the one drop rule of racist America, that has propelled his success. His uniqueness (read Blackness) in a sport so few Blacks have excelled in, have made him much more marketable, than had he been some gifted suburban White guy.
In other words, it is Woods Blackness, as much as his abilities on the golf course, that have propelled him to enormous wealth and success!
Part of the reason Woods is seen grinning from ear to ear is because he has partially succeeded in eradicating his Blackness. He may appear to be one of the millions of people in the US, who have Black skin and identify as Black, but he is above it all: until his next run in with the police.
Incidentally, the man who would not be black real claim to fame is, he is White America’s Best Friend. And by cheering on Tiger, White folks are absolved of their guilt. And his non-threatening, non-Black success allows folks to say ‘racism what racism,’ look at Tiger Woods.
Woods did mention Charlie Sifford one of the first Black golfers on the US PGA Tour, while receiving his award, but he failed to acknowledge Sifford’s struggle, or the struggle of Black people to overcome racism in golf. The truth is if there had been no Charlie Sifford or Lee Elder, there likely would have been no Tiger Woods. Woods father Earl, (who taught him golf), modeled his own game after Sifford’s, who Tiger has acknowledged was like a grandfather to him.
Golf is the most Anglo Saxon and bourgeois of all of the elitist sports. Country Clubs historically denied membership to Black golfers and until 1960 the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) bylaws allowed for only White membership, when they were amended to grant Sifford membership.
Woods has succeeded in an arena that is one of the last bastions of White Supremacy. The Country Club was the last place the good old boys could congregate and say anything without fear of consequence. When Woods began his career there were a number of Country Clubs in the US, that even years after official and unofficial Jim Crow segregation ended, still did not allow Black membership. It wasn’t long ago that former president Bill Clinton was criticized for belonging to an all-White country club, when confronted with this fact he feigned ignorance.
What was even more amazing than Woods recent win at the Masters after not having a major in nearly 14 years, was the fact that Black people still tried to claim his victory as their own. And that would be fine if there was an inkling of an indication that the admiration was desired by Woods, who unlike some (who hide it better) openly displays his discomfort with all things Black (including himself) on his golf shirt sleeve.
What makes Woods rejection of Blackness so stark is the sheer obviousness of his confusion. The fact that Woods skin tone has a high dose of melanin and the fact that he has a Black biological father makes him un-mistakeably Black. His confusion would be a bit more understandable if he were actually half White, or his skin tone was closer to Meghan Markle’s.
His fellow golfers have let it be known that they know he is Black. Fuzzy Zoeller called him a” little boy” and told him to be sure not to have “fried chicken” and “collard greens” or “whatever the hell they serve,” at the ceremonial dinner after he won his first Masters. Woods didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to fire back at Zoeller and ask ‘who you calling boy,’ or tell him, ‘I don’t even like collard greens.’
Black folks admiration of Tiger and the attempt to somehow revel in a victory that is his and his alone, speaks volumes about the state of Black America. Blacks in America are still busy claiming other folk’s victory and are not striking out on their own to create its own victories.
When Woods was asked if he wanted to comment on the status of race in this country last year he refused, while at the same time continuing to partner with the US’s number one race baiter President Donald Trump. Woods response was, “No! I just finished 72 holes and (am) really hungry.”
Strange that the golfer would invoke the word respect in his feeble attempt to defend his crass, sexist, racist business partner and friend Donald Trump. Woods suggested that people should respect the office of the president despite the jackanape who presently occupies the position. But respect is an odd choice of words for someone who clearly does not respect himself, or the group to which he belongs, nor the contributions of that group, which undoubtedly created the path for his success.
Ironically, because of his Black father and his Black grandfather Sifford, who invested in him, Tiger eats well. Black people would do well to keep in mind that when Tiger eats they don’t get full. No matter how much Black folks may wish to claim Woods as one of its own, the man insists that Black folks “got nothing coming” not even the bones from his prodigious, palatial, and plentiful plate.
justice then peace