Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Everybody Hates An Uppity Negro: How Tiger Woods Has United America


Tiger Woods' fame is more curse than gift these days. Recently his fame has grown beyond the daytime, prime time and late night confines of The Golf Channel, ESPN or similarly narrowly focused periodicals. He is the number one topic in the sports world, the news world and especially the gossip world. The most liberal critics of any strain of domestic violence and most conservative proponents of marriage chuckle at his situation. Tiger Woods has united all the races and all the viewpoints in humor and disdain. Because it seems, not everyone likes golf, but everybody hates an uppity Negro.

Turns out we were all lying in wait. Waiting for the takedown.

To be sure, Tiger initially caught the side-eye from Blacks when he famously went on The Oprah Winfrey Show and declared himself "cablinasian" (sic, if only because it's a fictitious word). If I went anywhere in this country and described myself as "caublindian" (technically accurate as it may be) people would fall out in laughter and indifference. And this is because, in the real world, I am a Black American. Some of us are mixed by circumstance, some by choice. But many of us are cabla-whatever, and don't relate to someone similarly situated going out of his way to distinguish himself, especially if done with even the slightest air of superiority. The President simultaneously boasts of diverse heritage and a wife who enjoys a hair relaxer from time to time. Such efforts to differntiate have become increasingly meaningless.

So, for the most part, Black journalists, pundits and others have been happy to sit on the sideline. Many of the Blacks not "fortunate" enough to be cablinasians have been happy to point the finger and laugh and laugh at Tiger's tribulation on Twitter, morning shows, water coolers, etc. Even the people frequently willing to strain the limits of intelligence to justify and qualify the most despicable acts of Black athletes (OJ Simpson, anybody?) have barely mustered a defense. Tiger deserved it after all.

The way its played out reveals that EVERYONE knew all along Tiger was a Negro. No wonder he got caught up in a Cadillac Escalade (yes, of course, it had nice rims). Despite his years long effort to go to Their schools, play Their sport and cater to Their press, Tiger couldn't command the actual loyalty of his neighbors, his peers in his sport or even his local Perkins waitress. The parade of people willing to knock Tiger down a peg is perhaps unprecedented for a person of Tiger's wealth and fame. But not for someone of Tiger's race.

On day umpteen of the Cheetah Woods news cycle, even I can see that this piling on of Tiger has been going on far too long. I concede it started with a routine AP story that was so full of holes it was hilarious. However, after we figured out that the story was more than a slow speed crash and a broken window, the story merely became a tale of adultery. Moreover, it's a very typical story of adultery and womanizing, especially as it concerns professional athletes. Alex Rodriguez is famous. He is a womanizer. He once had a wife. Yes, we laughed for a bit. But his story never got the international traction that Tiger's has. Shaquille O'Neal is married. He is an indisputable international superstar. His sloppy womanizing ways were exposed in a NY Times bestseller, testimony from his former teammate, and pages of e-mails and texts with other basketball players' significant others all summer long. Shaquille's philandering has barely gotten a mention in the mainstream press. Does Shaunie O'Neal suffer less than Elin Woods when she is cheated on? Does a Black woman not suffer when she is humiliated? Does a Black woman not deserve a check for spilling her story to a tabloid? At this point, I have to think Alex, Shaq and the like are free to live. Those that, perhaps, stay in their place and don't draw attention to themselves clamoring for inclusion in a world that's not theirs. I can't say that it definitely comes down to being of mixed heritage, having a same race wife or same race mistress or any combination thereof. But the inquiry has merit. Otherwise, someone in the American diaspora would have compassion for Tiger.

I hope this is settled now. Tiger is not wholesome. He is not perfect. Yes, Tiger Woods is famous and the higher they rise, the harder the fall. But, given the way things have transpired, we can never forget that Tiger is a Negro in America. Maybe Tiger actually will feel Negro when he assesses the recent media coverage of him. Perhaps he will feel Black if the Florida authorities decide to charge him with a DWI. Or maybe when his flaxen haired wife abruptly leaves him with their children along with her payout. Perhaps Tiger is uppity. But he is definitely a prick, universally defined. He mistreated his wife and his family. Tiger Woods has disappointed his public - White, Black, Indian and Asian. All along, Tiger has shown us that he is the type of man to hush his fans on the golf course and dispatch press releases if he feels bothered to communicate. So now Tiger is suffering because he can't be himself - uppity, Negro or otherwise. He is so insecure in himself that he can't even sit behind a plastic table, look into the camera and mutter an explanation that's not written by someone else. Maybe he is so detached from societal reality, he hasn't even figured out that he needs to do this. Tiger's situation has played out in such an an extraordinary manner because the American public appreciates genuosity. Tiger conveys none of that. The lesson in all this is to be authentic - whether Black or White. America has spoken.

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