Tiger Woods, in designating himself truly a mutt rather than Black By Default, is ahead of the curve. There are those who think he was supposed to declare himself “black” because of how, say, police might see him. But to do that would be to deny that his Thai mother contributed half of his genes and raised him – raised him, unable, as someone not Black American, to do so as a Black Mother. So, Tiger was brave enough to – brace yourself, Soul Patrol – be what he is. Two things. Not just black – and not even mainly black.
Something we can all agree on – in fifty years a lot of people will see it as odd that in our times that was seen as news. We’re mixing, a lot. There are now increasing numbers of self-avowedly “biracial” people – the days I knew as a kid when the black-white “mixed” kid was faced with having to “admit” that she was “black” when she was about thirteen, crying at forums where such issues were discussed out of ambivalence over disowning her non-black parent, are past. Tiger isn’t, from what is evident publicly, especially deep – but he’s prescient. He is the future, just as FDR, hardly deep himself, gave us Social Security, the FDIC and so much more. Sometimes we need to hearken to people who are not given to thinking too very much.
It’s interesting watching how people stuck in the old, shall we say, narrative don’t quite know what to do with this. David Swerdlick at The Root makes the old assumption that in refusing to identify as black, Tiger must look down on blackness. “Tiger’s pre-post-racial vibe backfired because he apparently thought that it made him special. It turns out he’s just like everyone else.”