There are three titles that no Black woman should ever seek: prostitute, groupie or mistress.
So it’s with a strange mix of relief and resentment that much of our community watches as Tiger Woods’ all-White list of side pieces keeps revealing itself. Actually, it’s tough to understand why the public is so interested in knowing names from the harem of a top athlete. Nothing’s news about an athlete, or any person, cheating on a spouse.
But when labels like “golf’s golden boy” are tossed around in the same reports that mention “affairs” and “scandal,” it’s clear that Tiger could possibly become the O.J. of a new generation. All but forgotten as a member of the Black family since he stepped off the set of Alex Haley’s “Roots,” the Juice was forced, literally, to come home to L.A. in the ’90s when his fate as an accused murderer was left in the hands of a darker-hued jury.
If things get much worse, where will Tiger go? As critical comments from various corners suggest, he gets “Blacker” by the day, in America’s eyes, as his reputation for womanizing competes with his sports notoriety. His stock as a multi-million-dollar-earning product pitchman and fan favorite is in jeopardy. Dating back to the days of heavyweight boxing titan Jack Johnson, this nation has disapproved of supremely talented Black men who flaunt White women. And dating back just as far, the Black community has embraced as heroes men who don’t embrace our women.
Lest we forget, Woods was the first athletic phenom – perhaps the first celebrity of any kind – to reach so far in refusing to call himself a Black man that he made up a word to describe his race, “Cablinasian.”
And you know what? He’s got a right to identify however he pleases. The sad thing is the collective self-esteem of a community that still thrusts Blackness upon him. Athletes, it’s painful to admit, have long been the rare figures we trust to prove to White America our value as human beings. Jesse Owens did it when he out-sprinted Hitler’s Germany. Joe Louis did it again when he knocked out Max Schmeling, symbolically defeating the Nazis (even though Schmeling wasn’t a Nazi).
We’re still sick from the poison of racism – relying on dunkers, punchers and golf-club swingers to be the antidote. Perhaps, there’s one sign, though, that we’re slowly recovering – no Black woman has complained that she wasn’t worthy of being a Tiger Woods side piece.