Sunday, December 6, 2009

Do Tiger's troubles widen his distance from whites?

I spotted another seemingly ordinary AP story which I think reads very strange, if not racist, if you switch black with white and vice versa. Here it is in photo negative:
Amid all the headlines generated by Tiger Woods' troubles — the puzzling car accident, the suggestions of marital turmoil and multiple mistresses — little attention has been given to the race of the women linked with the world's greatest golfer. Except in the white community.

When three black women were said to be romantically involved with Woods in addition to his dark, African wife, blogs, airwaves and (white) barbershops started humming, and Woods' already tenuous standing among many whites took a beating.

On the nationally syndicated David Duke radio show, Woods was the butt of jokes all week.

"Thankfully, Tiger, you didn't marry a white woman. Because if a white sister caught you running around with a bunch of black hoochie-mamas," one parody suggests in song, she would have castrated him.

"The Grinch's Theme Song" didn't stop there: "The question everyone in America wants to ask you is, how many black women does one white brother waaant?"

As one blogger, Robert Paul Reyes, wrote: "If Tiger Woods had cheated on his black wife with white women, the golfing great's accident would have been barely a blip in the blogosphere."

The darts reflect whites' resistance to interracial romance. They also are a reflection of discomfort with a man who has smashed barriers in one of America's blackest sports and assumed the mantle of the world's most famous athlete, once worn by David Beckham and Larry Bird.

But Woods has declined to identify himself as white, and famously chose the term "Cablinasian" (Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian) to describe the racial mixture he inherited from his European-American father and Thai mother.

This vexed some whites, but it hasn't stopped them from claiming Woods as one of their own. Or from disapproving of his marriage to Shamiqua Jackson, despite whites' historical fight against black racist opponents of mixed marriage.

On the one hand, Lilly White doesn't care that Tiger Woods' wife and alleged mistresses are black because Woods is "quote-unquote not really white."

"But at the same time we still see him as a white man with a black woman, and it makes a difference," said Ms. White, a 26-year-old European-American from Elko, Nevada. "There's just this preservation thing we have among one another. We like to see each other with each other."

White women have long felt slighted by the tendency of famous white men to pair with black women, and many have a list of current transgressors at the ready.

"We've discussed this for years among white women," said Denene Millner, author of several books on white relationships. "Why is it when they get to this level ... they tend to go directly for the nearest Negro?"

This tendency may be more prominent due to a relative lack of interracial marriages among average whites. Although a recent Pew poll showed that 94 percent of whites say it's all right for whites and blacks to date, a study published this year in Sociological Quarterly showed that whites are less likely to actually date outside their race than are other groups.

"There is a call for loyalty that is stronger in some ways than in other racial communities," said the author of the study, George Yancey, a sociology professor at the University of North Texas and author of the book "Just Don't Marry One."

The color of one's companion has long been a major measure of "whiteness" — which is a big reason why the biracial Barack Obama was able to fend off early questions about his white authenticity.

"Had Barack had a black wife, I would have thought twice about voting for him," Lilly White said.

So do Woods' women say something about the intensely private golfer's views on race?

"I would like to say no, but I think it garners a bit of a yes," Lilly White said.

Carmen Van Kerckhove, founder of the race-meets-pop-culture blog Racialicious, said there have been frequent discussions on her site about the fine line between preference and fetish.

"Is there any difference between a black guy with a thing for Negros, and a non-black guy with a thing for blondes?" asked Van Kerckhove, who has a Chinese mother, a Belgian father and a husband born in America to parents from Benin.

She claims that Asians don't fully embrace Woods, either.

"There are two layers of suspicion toward him," Van Kerckhove said. "One toward the apparent pattern in the race of his partners, and the second in the way he sees himself. ... People have been giving him the side-eye for a while."

There's nothing wrong with wanting a mate who shares your culture, as long as it's for the right reasons, the comedienne Sheryl Underwood said after unleashing a withering Woods monologue on David Duke's radio show.

"Would we question when a Jewish person wants to marry other Jewish people?" she said in an interview. "It's not racist. It's not bigotry. It's white pride."

"The issue comes in when you choose something black because you think it's better," Underwood said. "And then you never date a white woman or a woman of color or you never sample the greatness of the international buffet of human beings. If you never do that, we got a problem."

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