4/15/06

How black isTiger Woods ? (or Joakim Noah and Barack Obama for that matter )

Tiger Woods is used to receiving hate mail. That is part of the drill when you are successful at a sport that is still regarded by many as a old white men club only. It is unlikely that golfers demographics will change soon when you look at the membership fees for entering a club-house. I do enjoy my 18-hole trot from time to time but the atmosphere generated by the whole rich members-only tradition is lost on me. Anyway, Tiger woods hate-mail lately have come for the black community who resents the fact that he refuses to be "labeled" as African-American. He says that is not who I am: I am a 'Cablinasian'": as in Caucasian-black-Indian-Asian. To which Colin Powell responded: "In America, which I love from the depths of my heart and soul, when you look like me, you're black." ( I think a lot of black Europeans can relate to that ). I applaud Tiger Woods for taking charge of his identity, promoting multiculturalism and not accepting anyone else but him to dictate his ethnicity. The question derived from this issue is several fold: 1) Why did it matter so much to the black community that Tiger Woods claims he is one of them and one of them only ? 2) Do we seriously need to have a hierarchy that needs to be implemented when it comes to our race when we are multiracial ? 3) were we to choose to put a hierarchy, wouldn't one always pick the community that would embrace him/her more readily?
1) It matters to a community that is underprivileged to not only see one of their own succeed but to see one of their own recognize their community when they succeed. It is not a trivial matter. It gives hope and confidence that success is also a possible feat coming from this community. That is a the consequence of a society where a black person is perceived as more likely to rob a house than be a good golfer. Therefore, I applaud any minorities who succeed then recognize and give back to their own communities. It matters more to them, so it's all for the best. The same can be applied at the global level: if a Malagasy fellow achieve global success or excellence in any field , I would have no quarrel with the fact that he raises the Malagasy flag every time he can. It may seem silly to others but it is important to those watching back home and it does put the "nation on the global map" ( as irrelevant as it sounds, such details can change general perception of a country).
2) a multicultural (or multiracial) person is not an exception anymore. The concept is not novel nor difficult to comprehend. Classifying someone as from here or there is just taking the easy way to try to get a grasp of his/her individuality. Boring...
3) The African-American community is full of universal success stories/people: MLK, Ali, J.C Owens, Jackie Robinson, Spike lee etc.... So Tiger's story would not have made much of a difference at this point. Now, since black and Thai communities seemed to care more about his success, why wouldn't he embrace these parts of his identity more willingly ? It would seem that the community more in need of a global representative would support more forcefully.

So Tiger, it's time to embrace the native American cause and hammer the 3-wood with war paint on your face. ;) or better yet, ignore the haters and stupid suggestions and start a foundation open to any kids who want to do something of their lives ....Oh, you did already ? ooops. ;)

8 comments:

  1. When someone asks you what race you are, what do you tell them? Do you say you're Asian or African? I tell them I'm Other.

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  2. I try to check all of them on those application forms. So both is my answer when asked face to face.

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  3. Most mixed black&white Americans identify themselves as Black. However, mixed black European acquaintances have repeatedly told me that they only realized they were Black once they were here in the US. Interesting, uh ?
    I identify myself as Black and Asian on forms, but I can certainly understand Malagasy people who choose to identify themselves as one OR the other. This question is certainly a recurring theme among Malagasy people.
    As for Tiger Woods, I applaud him for identifying himself as Cablinasian. And why should he reject his Asian half-self? Lol. Now, that would seem like discrimination to me :-)
    I have not seen Joakim Noah identifying himself as Black only. His take on this would be interesting, with him having grown up all over the world. But racially, wouldn't he be more white than black? My guess is he is one of those true global citizen types. I read some interviews about him and he seems like such a well-balanced and really really nice kid. He also seems to admire his daddy a lot !

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  4. I think you are right on point about the fact that coming in the US makes you more aware of your racial identity. Is it a case of a more "openly-discussed" subject in the Us or is it a case of "less of an issue" in Europe ? I tend to think the former...

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  5. Anonymous5:39 PM

    have a look at " le nouvel obs" titled les francais Noirs en France,this week ..interestingly one of them included Thuram was saying that no one want to be "reduced" by his/her skin colour ...(en effet tres reducteur!!! lire aussi
    transculturalism de Claude Grunitzky) ...Let us behave,think and fell as global citizen

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  6. Lova,
    Saw a review of Why in the New Yorker : http://www.newyorker.com/critics/books/articles/060410crbo_books

    Sounds like a good bet for beach reading ! Thanks for the recommendation.
    Also Do you have an email, if you still want to contribute to the SOS south east fundraising, I have the contact info of the person in charge?

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  7. J'ai bien trouve le lien sur Nouvel Obs, malheureusement, l'article est payant !
    L'individu se compose de bien plus que de sa couleur de peau et se qualifier de noir serait effectivement reducteur, si c'est la seule carte jouee par l'individu, (un exemple en serait la senateur Cynthia McKeeney).
    Neanmoins, il ne faut pas se faire d'illusions non plus, ici et ailleurs, race still matters!

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  8. >anonymous, sipakv: that article was available last week and all of the sudden,they decided to charge for it. :(. If you have the info on SOS southeast, My email is lrakoto@hotmail.com. The Democrats probably believe that the Karma from all the GOP's mishaps had to transfer to them. As if a senator beating up a cop wasn't bad enough, she had to throw in the race card..:( The race card is probably used here more often than anywhere else and I am all for a reasonable discussion. Still, I think that the use of race as an explanation is spreading globally and is overused or used in a simplistic matter ( Duke Lacrosse scandal or our friend the IQ doctor :) )

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