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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tiger's Racial Rorschach Test

Interesting article by AP, on reaction in the black community to Tiger Woods' extra-marital problems:
When three white women were said to be romantically involved with Woods in addition to his blonde, Swedish wife, blogs, airwaves and barbershops started humming, and Woods' already tenuous standing among many blacks took a beating.

On the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner radio show, Woods was the butt of jokes all week. "Thankfully, Tiger, you didn't marry a black woman. Because if a sister caught you running around with a bunch of white 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 white women does one brother waaant?"

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

The darts reflect blacks' resistance to interracial romance.
That last sentence really is startling. We tend to view resistence to interracial marriage as a white racist phenomenon. If true, maybe we need to rethink our approach to racial harmony and consider factors, in addition to racial hatred, as to the sources of self-segregation:
"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 "blackness" — which is a big reason why the biracial Barack Obama was able to fend off early questions about his black authenticity.

"Had Barack had a white wife, I would have thought twice about voting for him," Johnson Cooper said.
Issues of race do not seem so black-and-white, after all.

Update: JammieWearingFool and Patterico are posting on this as well.

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  1. This is not really news to anyone with any familiarity with the black community. The sort of intolerance to IR marriages and relationships is a reasonably popular attitiude within certain segments of the black community and is overlooked or ignored by "polite" society(the "polite" is not being used as some euphemism for "white," but rather those of any race who wish to not address unpleasant or potentially devisive subjects regarding race).

    My wife is black, I am not. In the 9 years of our marriage I've had three people come up to me with actively hostile attitudes regarding our marriage. One was a white man I had a passing acquaintance with, the other two (all 3 of these incidents were separate occasions) were both black men and pretty much complete strangers to us (one lived in the same, very large apartment complex we were in and neither of us had ever said a word to him before the incident; the other was a semi-drunk in a blues club/bar that neither one of us had ever met before). The fact that both of these black men were strangers to us, I think, is a bit telling.

    I don't want to get into the percentages game of what the white/black ratio is to IR marriage resistance, but it is ignorant to think that only whites have negative perspectives. I mean, black women's hostility toward black man/white woman relationships is a frequent topic on black oriented message boards and chat rooms. This is not to say it is some epidemic problem-- but it's certainly there. And these negative opinions are expressed far more openly, in my opinion and experience (and no, my experience is not just these 3 most obvious and disagreeable incidents), than in the white community.

  2. I am not sure that my comment got posted. Here is a summation.

    I remember back to the time when Sammy Davis Jr married another Swedish blonde, May Britt. He did it at a time when interracial marriage was illegal in 31 states.

    At that time, I had a brilliant and wonderful Jewish boyfriend who went to Princeton. One day he turned to me and said softly, "My parents are going to finance my medical school educatio. I just can't take a goy home to them." I smiled at him and said "I thought that was my line"?

    I am not surprised at the opposition of blacks, male and female, to interracial marriage.

    People should know that there are two sides to every prejudice.

  3. If the races were reversed in this article, then this would be huge matter, with the blogosphere and the (mainstream) media painting those white people as racists, and rightfully so. But black people seem to get pass at being against interracial relationships. And that is because no one wants to think of them as racists, and also that no one ever challenges them on their racism. I think that every racist comment made by blacks need to be called out, loudly and repeatedly.

  4. Robert,

    Could you define what exactly your definition of 'racist/racism' is?

    I find the word 'racist/racism' really useless in terms of an honest conversation. I never use it, but since you appear to find it useful, it would be helpful if I was clear about what you personally meant, when you use the word, before I make assumptions..


  5. Woops - I did it again - possibly made 2 replies instead of one.

    Robert Reed - I hear you and you are correct. However the extreme anger of blacks for whites comes from the days of slavery. They don't distinguish who and who did not hold slaves.

    There was a small slave insurrection in the early 1800s led by a slave called Nat Turner. He and a small group of men killed his owners and about 50 (not sure of the figure) people. He was hoping that his actions would lead to a large slave insurrection.

  6. Samandimp - I disagree. I think African Americans' anger is because they are STILL not treated equal to whites in employment, socially, and by law enforcement. I'm white and I don't blame them a bit for being angry about this situation. I can relate to it as a woman working in an industry where most of my co-workers are male I sometimes just want to tell them all off for treating me like a second class citizen.

  7. It just goes to show that racism exists among black people.

    And for the record my definition of racism is the opposite of martin luther king's dream: "to judge a person not based on the content of their character, but by the color of their skin." and no, i don't sweep affirmative action automatically into that; you can give preferences without being racist. but the two go together more often than acknowledged by the supporters of affirmative action.

    And, btw, i can say as a man in an interracial relationship, it is downright annoying the way most couples in TV ads are strictly segregated by race. black men with black women, white with white, etc. it is exceedingly rare to see any mixing depicted in an ad. and for advertisers, don't think we don't notice when you do that--and when you don't.

    Btw, exit question... now, given that Tiger Woods is actually half asian, how does that figure into all of that? indeed, exactly which race is he supposed to marry into? would the black community accept him marrying an asian woman? or is that supposedly a betrayal of his race, too? i guess the real answer from these bigots' point of view is tht Earl Woods never should have married an asian woman, right? So really according to them Tiger should never have been born. Sigh.

    Of course racist logic never stands up to scrutiny, because it is not actually logical.

    years ago there was a principal in north carolina who segregated the prom. he was a white guy. when a biracial girl asked which prom she was supposed to go to, she was told by him that she was a "mistake." apparently alot of people in the black community concur. sigh.

  8. @ Aaron

    Advertisers push their products at certain segments of the market based on the demographics of market research. They're not there to make a political or social statement in commercials for their product-- unless someone feels that will increase the sales of said product. If you get annoyed at the fact that there are rarely interracial couples in commercials then prepare to be annoyed an awful lot and for little purpose... Better to just laugh about how reality is different than ads.

    It might be amusing to remember only a few years ago when most "black" children in commercials were biracial. The typical black family depicted in ads would be the dark-skinned father, the slightly lighter skinned but still dark mother, and then the very light-skinned, 1/2-white toddler/young child. It made for a very funny joke in that movie The Truman Show, where his dark-skinned, black neighbors (all of them actors cast for the TV show within the movie) were always toting around a very young, biracial child.

    The whole Tiger Woods is considered black thing reflects an-all-or-nothing attitude that dominates certain segments of the black community. It doesn't matter what the reality of Woods' ethnic heritage is, the fact that he is kinda dark and has "black" blood in him holds him up to judgement according to a very narrowly defined social construction often labeled as "authentic blackness." You can call this racist if you want-- I would -- but those who built up and continue to coddle this social construct redefine racism not as an attitude but as a social institution. It is reasonably "logical" and consistant once you accept the suppositions it is all based on-- suppositions that are at odds with the indivdualistic values most Americans possess. And yes it is exclusionary and unfair and out of step with complicated reality as your "segregated prom" example suggests, but the unfairness and exclusivity is part of the point of it all...

  9. The reason is because on the scale of desirability in polite society, we black women are often ranked at the bottom. It has always been so. No matter how pretty or clever we are, we are generally considered a third-rate stand in for a "true beauty" which is almost always a white woman (considered the Holy Grail of fineness in a woman) and sometimes an Asian. It is the greatest insult of all when our compatriots supposedly upgrade to a "better race". All of that kind of thinking is a product of many many years of conditioning. It is not right, but it is what it is.

    I grew up in Northern California in a very, very diverse atmosphere. I was 24 years old before I dated my first African American man. I grew up on a military base where it was common for people to go overseas, fall in love, and come back with a husband or wife of a different race. I was not even aware of the tension coming from my fellow black folks regarding this issue until college.

    This is not an excuse, it is just a reason. It needs to stop. We need to get over it and stop being so offhand with our racism, because it is not ok.

    Ps. I beg to differ with Tom Joyner. She is not black, but she still beat that ass. I, for one, am proud of her. She should receive an honorary Angry Black Woman Membership Card immediately.