I don’t have any personal investment in Tiger Woods’ personal life. Frankly, with each new trick that takes her lunch break to give US Weekly an exclusive scoop, I find myself feeling terrible for Elin Woods and their children. A wife and children deserve better than this. Still, I have to admit I find the newfound outrage regarding Tiger Woods’ jump-off choice particularly amusing. Many Black folks have wasted little time pointing out that all of Tiger’s jumpoffs have been white.
This tickles me for a few reasons. Firstly, why do Black people all of a sudden care about Tiger Woods on the racial level? It’s been about a dozen years since the Cablinasian comment and in those intervening years, there’s been a general “We appreciate his skill but not his cultural take” detente at best and at worst a feeling that Woods is a superstar sellout who turned his back on Black people (in much the same way Michael Jordan did, but Jordan was smart enough to do it playing a Black sport). That anything involving Tiger Woods is getting Black peoples’ racial Irish up is mildly hilarious.
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In fact, I’d argue that a real story with racial dynamics worth of discussion would be if all of Tiger’s side chicks were Black. That opens the door for a wealth of discussion which would probably only be rivaled by the first OJ trial. Until something else grabs our attention.
Secondly, and much more importantly, the nature of what iger has come to represent and what that representation really means goes to directly explain his love of Becky.
Tiger Woods’ father is Black. His mother is Thai. He, according to his desire to be post-racial before such a term was in vogue, is Cablinasian. He was raised to be a post-racial golf savior. He was raised to be race-less golf savior.
Hate to be the bearer of the bad news we already know, but white people have the luxury of being race-less. Or, at least, the effects of race are felt differently than they are by any other racial group. Even with all this “diversity” flying around, being white is as awesome as it is limitless. As race is a social construction, there’s nothing intrinsically superior to being white; nothing that makes white people better than anyone else. The power of whiteness–and the privilege that comes with it–is, in many ways, a mindset; a mode of thought and operation.
Obviously, this is an oversimplification of what it means to be white. Not all white people think the exact same way. Still, despite the obvious variety in thought and experience, there is a kinship insofar as benefit is concerned. White people are considered the standard; the measure by which average is determined and that has a lot to do with how their dominant cultural influence is maintained.
To be an outsider considered on the inside, you have to ‘crossover’; you have to do something generally identified done by or pleasing to that which is white. Again, such labeling is terribly complicated–while often giving no credit to other people for an ability to produce something “good”–but it is a fact in the world that we currently live.
With insider access, the discussion turns then to whether or not someone is in something or of something. Is Person X moonlighting in the “mainstream” or have they divested from their origins and fully embraced the mainstream aesthetic? Or perhaps they just live their lives and don’t allow race to affect the choices they makes.
That being said, why would we be surprised by Tiger’s choice in jump-off?
He was raised to transcend race–go back and read some interviews with his father–playing a predominantly White game. Oh and he went to Stanford too. He’s a person of color who became a crossover star playing golf. He considers himself Cablinasian–a term which curiously places Caucasian first despite his parents being Black and Thai respectively.
Yes; you could argue that transcending race means having choices when it comes to jump-offs. But in reality, racial transcendence has much more to do with not having to be whatever color you appear to be. You’ll notice that people rarely use the term ‘transcend race’ when it comes to white people on the individual level. Why? Because people considered white have already done it.
And this isn’t to say anyone who transcends race considers themselves white. It is to say those who do so have the option of giving that cultural aesthetic and mindset some serious thought.
So I ask again: Why the surprise?
And, since questions are being asked, I’ll toss out another.
Tiger Woods stepped out on his wife and kids. If one of his jumps was colored, would we really feel better?