Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Imitation of An Imitation of Life: The Tiger Woods Fiasco and Racial Identity

[photo credit: cablinasian like me]

I am not one to deal in idle gossip, and I know you all are probably so done with the whole Tiger Woods saga, but even as the story appears to die out and the media seems to want to move on, new details emerge.

For instance, the total number of women with possible romantic ties to Tiger has grown to nine, possibly ten. And if that was not enough, two of the women stated that he did not like to use condoms, so he put not only himself but his wife and other partners in danger as well. Had enough yet? But there’s more.

It was also reported that one of the women involved is offering nude pictures taken from his cell phone for sale to the highest bidder, and additionally, the allegations that some of the trysts took place in his Florida home he shared with his wife and children have caused his wife to move out.

Admittedly, I have no idea how much of this is true and how much is simply rumor and innuendo, but I do know that if you repeat a lie often enough, it sometimes takes on the guise of truth.

And in speaking to others about Tiger’s future and according to experts, the general consensus was that this incident would have not bearing on his career or his many endorsement deals. However, that was before the other women started coming out of the woodwork, and the other potentially damaging information came to light. Now, Tiger’s character is really called into question, and his future seems up in the air.

But the question I have is, if things really begin to go downhill for him, if the whole situation begins to spiral completely out of control, as it appears it is doing, and he stands to lose everything—the support of his sponsors and the concomitant lucrative endorsement deals—what will his posture be toward his ethic background then?

If you remember, when Tiger won the Master’s Tournament at age twenty-one, he made the infamous comment to Oprah that he did not identify as Black but as Cablinasian, a combination of Caucasian, Black, Indian, and Asian. He went even further in stating that it troubled him to be identified as Black.

However, if you look at recent history, many who did not identify as Black, or who seemingly had cut their ties to the Black community, came rushing back when the chips were down.

Do you remember the case of one Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson? Before his 1995 trial for the death of his wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, Simpson seemed wholly disconnected from the African American community. However, following his acquittal by a practically all-Black jury, Simpson became ultra-Black. Suddenly, he was being photographed all up in Watts and Compton with Uncle Al Sharpton, eating soul food and offering praise and worship to Black Jesus in Black congregations.

It seems that facing a prison term of life without parole helps a man finally make up his mind in matters of race and religion.

And what about Michael Jackson? People were questioning both his commitment to the Black community as well as his desire to even remain Black when his legal troubles convinced him that “It Doesn’t Matter If You Are Black or White,” the long arm of the law will come after you. And then after his album “Invincible” tanked, he too sought out Uncle Al Sharpton to shepherd him back into Blackness.

The Black community welcomed both men back with open arms. Adoring crowds even greeted Simpson in Watts as if he were some kind of conquering hero. But both these men shared a pre-fame affinity with Black folks. O.J. grew up in a predominately Black, inner-city neighborhood and shared a similar narrative with Black folk. And though fame came to Michael Jackson when he was yet very young, most Black folk of a certain age still remembered a pre-plastic surgery Michael with the negroid nose and clung tenaciously to this image.

Additionally, both men engaged in an activity that Black folk readily identified with and participated in, football and music, whereas until Tiger came along, not many Black folk had anything to do with golf.

But Tiger does not have any of these advantages; though we have claimed him and embraced him, we have never really known him, and he has never expressed any pressing need to get to know us. I wonder if Uncle Al Sharpton would be available for a back to Black tour for him?

However, in the final analysis, this is how the ball bounces. Despite his malfeasance, I feel a sense of pity for him. Deviant behavior does not just occur out of nowhere; usually it can be traced back to some root cause.

And I do not claim to be some kind of psychologist, but I seem to sense in Tiger a lost, lonely child. Just like Michael Jackson, he has been a prodigy for most of his life. He has had people continually telling him how great he is, how wonderful he is, and stroking his ego. Until now, I do not ever recall him receiving any bad press.

Now, suddenly, he has been put right squarely on front street. Now all those women who he thought really loved him—because after all, he is Tiger Woods—are requiring a check for their silence.

Also, if his wife has really left him, and she has every reason to do so, I am sure he is feeling really alone right about now. He is perhaps bewildered and confused by this whole turn of events. Not too long ago, everyone seemed to be singing his praises; he was the golden boy, and his character went unquestioned. Today he is a punch line in an SNL spoof.

But how far will his descent go? Will things get so bad that he will feel the need to become Black?


Kim said...

I'm not a Tiger Woods fan, not a fan of golf period. But he's never been on my radar. I don't know why anyone would deny any part of himself and I don't know why black folks feel slighted by the Tiger Woods and OJ's of the world-- I don't need anybody to help me feel good about being black. I don't have that "he belongs to us mentality". Tiger Woods did what most high profile black athletes do, mess with white women, except he shouldn't have went there with NO GAME..He needs to stick to Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley. Oh yeah and Golf...LOL

Citizen Hue said...

I believe Tiger will be OK, provided that nothing but the same continues to come out, even if the number rises. I remember Tiger making his Cablinasian comment and hoped that he would never have to see himself through the lens of the majority (black). I am sad that he has come to this perspective and even sadder that Mr. Earl Woods is not alive to help him navigate this sudden realization.

Anna Renee said...

SoulBrother, I like that "Shepherd him back into blackness"! It seems to me that we humans are not meant to be idolized and if we are we don't feel human. It seems that we'll tear down the pedestal we're on just to become human again. I believe that Tiger just wanted to come down and paved the way for it. It has to be very stressful to be idolized by the whole world! Look at our poor M.J.!!

Max Reddick said...


Nice pic, Baby Sis. But when the outrage went up because he seemed reluctant to embrace his blackness, I could have cared less. It is his business how he cares to self-identify. However, he should also know that others will identify him as that wish as well, despite how he identifies himself.

@Citizen Hue

I wonder if Earl was still alive, would Tiger be going through what he is going through right now?

@Anna Renee

I am in agreement with you. It is hard to be anyone's idol because once you assume the pedastal, there seems to be nowhere to go but down.

And perhaps it is a relief to him now that this has all come out into the open. I would imagine that walking around with that kind of secret is torturous.

♥ CG ♥ said...

When the chips are down we're always around with open arms...not sure why when the acknowledgment isn't mutual.

On a different note, the level at which well-known people are hoisted by "fans" sets them up for disappointment and failure (on the celeb's part) to meet other's expectations. Do they really owe anyone answers for their indiscretions? I dunno...that's why I stay out the limelight...hehe

Max Reddick said...

@Curvy Girl

Certainly they do not owe anyone answers for their discretion, and certainly not me. However, in the same instance, they live off of the public. Tiger would not be getting all those millions in endorsement fees if he did not have some appeal to the public. So when you are that closely associated with the public, I am not certain why celebrities become concerned with the public scrutiny. Do they kind of invite that kind of scrutiny just by virtue of being in the limelight?

md20737 said...

Why is it when someone does what most people deem to be unethical immoral that they become black? When will blacks stopping becoming accepting of the worlds trash. Tiger has zero impact on my family's life. He said he aint black I say he aint black.

Citizen Ojo said...

I respect Tiger Woods the athlete but that's about it. What I find funny about this is how some black women are reacting to it. And I thought about why they are upset and it came to me. This guy doesn't want to have anything to do with anything black. He went to Stanford University (didn't finish though) and married a Baby Sitter. Imagine all the educated black women he passed up on the way to his current wife. Then he cheats on her with cocktail waitress and porn stars. Not even a black chick that works at Hooters could get with this dude. So for these reasons that's why he isn't getting any love from black women.

Lyn Marie said...

I'm not sure if Tiger deserves any malice for his statement about how he categories himself. He didn't say he's not Black (meaning only Black) but he's a mixture of all of his family members, Black, White and Asian. How is recognizing all of your background dissing the Black community?

Tiger Woods is human, no more no less. That means he can rise above or he can be trifflin. May he find the peace in himself that he's been looking for in others no matter what his color.

RiPPa said...

Bruh, I'd like to point out that you were wrong about Michael Jackson. Unlike Tiger, he was always Black - don't buy that bullshit people say about him and so-called Blackness. Michael was always involved in the Black community financially and he has been linked to Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and other activists since the 70's.

But this is about Tiger...

He is not going to lose anything from this. He's worth $1 billion - we're not talking about some everyday wealthy black celeb here.

The lesson to be learned is that people will be who they are and almost always not how we perceive them to be. When it comes to someone in the public eye it's even worse.

So what he ain't black.

I bet if he cuts the NAACP a bigass check like Tyler Perry Neroes wouldn't have anything negative to say.

msladyDeborah said...

I respect Tiger's ability to play golf. That is the skill that drew my attention to him. Otherwise, I feel that this whole situation is really a matter for the Woods to deal with.

How he chooses to identify himself is his business. He is the one who has to answer for his actions. If he wasn't known for his ability as a golfer-no one would care what was happening in his life.

Max Reddick said...


That's one point that I am trying to make. People want to suddenly cry Black and make themselves victims, but in the same instance, when everything was all good, they had no use for Black folk. Will Tiger follow suite?

@Citizen Ojo

Yeah, it does seems as if he prefers white women. But if he continues to choose those who would be considered to be socially below him, doesn't it seem like it is a question of power? He wants someone who he believes he can dominate, who he believes will allow him the upper hand because of their social positions.

@And I agree with you. He can identify himself whatever way he chooses; however, others will identify him as they choose. So, I ain't mad at him if he gives props to all the parts of himself.

And trifling does not have a respective color or class. Trifling is trifling.


Never said Michael Jackson was not always Black. I made sure to put the qualifying word "seemed" there because for most people, it seemed like he was running away from Blackness.

And his financial loss will be negligible, that's for sure, but I think he loses something even greater. Tiger seems to thrive on the adulation of others. However, once the adulation stops, he will be in a rough spot emotionally. And despite how much money you have, if you ain't right emotionally and spiritually, then life ain't living; you just going through the motions.


I agree with you for the most part; how he conducts himself is his business. And I do not care how he chooses to identify himself. How he identifies himself is his business. However, once he enters the public eye he should expect a certain scrutiny.

If he were just some everyday guy in the street, it would be left to him and his family to work out. Infidelity, unfortunately, is an everyday occurence. But because he is who he is, he had to have known the whole time he was out there that if this came out, what a ruckus it would cause. But he continued anyone.

Anonymous said...

I was a die hard Tiger Woods fan. I watched every Masters, US Open and any other tournament he was in in his heyday and I cheered right along. I actually respected the fact that he acknowledged his other races because he has had to identify with it all his life. No doubt to the blacks he wasn't black enough and to the Asians he wasn't Asian enough and to the whites he was too brown to be truly white. He is who is. Mixed race people can never truly identify with just one race especially in his case when he was no doubt taught to respect his Asian culture. So as far as him drawing to black people now I really don't thing he is going to let "Uncle Al" or "Brother Jesse" do the talking for him.

As far as him being a lost child I couldn't disagree more. He is an extremely arrogant man who was living the life. He wanted all these women so he had them. He disrespected not only his own body but the safety of his wife by (allegedly) not practicing safe sex at the least and then further disrespected his home by bringing them into his house. I think Tiger may have a two fold way of living up to the title of "Greatest Player of all Time". He deserves every ounce of pain that he feels. What Elin feels is probably ten times that.

Lyn Marie said...

Well said Toya!

Lisalis said...

I haven't paid much attention to the Tiger Woods fiasco or the pre-fiasco Tiger phenomenon...I'm not into golf. However, I find it curious that mixed-race issue continues to get so much media attention. Am I the only one that realizes that 99% of African-Americans are, in all likelihood, "mixed-race". When I look at my family, my mirror and my photo albums it's kinda obvious. However, I have never once considered myself "mixed." My family and I are "black" because, over the generations of our experience in this country, black people are the only ones who have ever claimed us. And that's okay with me.

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