Monday, February 27, 2012

More Afro-Asian connections in sports and US culture

Mark Anthony Neal has to be one of the smartest people I know who thinks about, writes about and talks about issues of race, especially on his blog, New Black Man. Neal also has a weekly webcast, Left of Black, and today he had on two scholars who look at race and sports, and they discuss Tiger Woods -- the original "Cablinasian" and apt symbol (and apt problematics--and by this I mean the problem of being read as mixed race in the U.S. not that I think Woods is a "problem" although his golf game is currently problematic, but that's a different post for a different audience) of a Mixed Race America. Watch now.


skim666 said...

COME ON, Tiger!!! Step it up!! My family misses the fist pump!

Dianne said...

Here are a few of my thoughts (sorry, it’s long):

1) We need to talk about this more and more openly.
2) Everyone forgets that Tiger also opened the doors of professional golf to many, many Asians who have done quite well on the tour. He served as a role model for them, too, and why haven’t more American blacks tried to get on the tour since he burst on the scene? Because it isn’t that easy, and Tiger didn’t let on to any race issues he might have run into on the tour. The history of golf is full of racism, classism and segregation. Augusta was totally segregated. Blacks were caddies, not players.
3) Part of Tiger’s demise was separate from the fact that he slept with all those women. As mentioned, all the PGA golfers attended the same functions where women were there as part of the entertainment. Don’t tell me they all said, no, no, I’m married. They were right there alongside of him, and that’s why ALL of them were so silent. His demise was due to the fact that his skills and talent made him untouchable and I think there was a movement to knock him off his pedestal in another way – someone got those women to talk. Also, lots of wives of rich, powerful men turn a blind eye. She might have, too, if it had been handled differently.
4) The issue of his marriage to a white woman and his “treatment” of her through adultery is a white man’s issue. It is presented as being worse, more egregious, than if he had acted the same against a black woman.
5) Some spousal choices are aesthetic and based on who is around you as well. We are bombarded with images of white women. How many black or Asian women land on the most beautiful lists put out annually? Please, blacks are 12% of the population; there is going to be out marrying and it shouldn’t be considered a “thang” or considered as a means of diminishing one’s own race or ethnicity.
6) When the tour realized they lost 50% of their spectators when Tiger went into hiding, they did everything they could to bring him back. They need him. I watch golf, and no matter what, whether he is in the top 10 or not even at the tournament, he is still talked about. He is the standard through which everyone else is compared. It is backward to what usually goes on – most everyone is compared to a white standard, e.g. what the beauty standard is or the body type of dancers.
7) Tiger has a right to honor his racial and ethnic identities. A society based on racial construction tries to force people to choose and if they don’t, they are still categorized.
8) It disturbs me when whites can act as individuals, but if you are an ethnic or racial minority in America, you must act and behave within a narrow definition based on stereotype. We should all feel comfortable with who we are.
9) Charles Barkley, another good friend of Tiger’s, said it best when he told the media to stop expecting him to be a role model. He just wanted to play ball. Granted, Tiger put out a carefully constructed persona, but that was part of the marketing and not all his own doing. But why, if you are a minority, are you expected to speak for the whole group? Last time I checked, I don’t speak for all white people nor do I represent them in any verifiable manner.
10) Tiger has not lost his edge. He remained #1 in the world for almost two years after his demise, and he is playing extremely well despite being off the tour and dealing with injury and age. When he gets his putting back, he will continue to break records. He’s Tiger; he’s black; he’s Asian; he’s Caucasian; he is phenomenal.

Great program!


Jennifer said...

Thanks for your very thoughtful comments--I absolutely think that there's a double standard being applied to Tiger Woods. I mean, do I want him to be champion for social justice causes (like anti-racism)? OF COURSE--but I want EVERYONE to do this--and it would be a very powerful thing for Phil Mickelson to speak out against racism and/or Anthony Kim.

I do want Tiger to come back--I mean, I know golf is problematic on many levels, but on a very basic level, I just love the game.