Nick Faldo: To take Tiger on, well, yeah, maybe they should just gang up for a while until…
Kelly Tilghman: Lynch him in the back alley
Nick Faldo: Yeah… that
A long time ago I made the conscious decision to not waste my time trying to explain the dynamics and effects of modern day racism (I actually prefer the term “white supremacy” and/or “eurocentric superiority ideology”) to White people. I realized I was engaged in a losing battle as it became clear that I was in a continual struggle to legitimize what I knew, observed and lived. Especially when it came to explaining and exposing the subtleties of racism to White liberals (and the “Yuppie” socialists), who are the primary perpetrators (and benefactors) of this pernicious type of behaviour.
So I no longer wanted to be their teacher or sensei. How can a white person understand the messages (and effects) we receive from the looks, stares or avoidance of eye contact, the inflection in a voice, the faux smiles, the dishonest handshakes, the attitudes, the slights, “the slings and arrows”… which we daily experience in North America. I say “North America”, because it happens here in Canada also. Racism in Canada is not as overt as it is in the USA. It is much more systemic, covert and polite… therefore harder to identify. I know for a fact that there are White people here, who would argue to the death that there is no racism in Canada. I know this for sure because in the past, I used to have these arguments many times.
It was an exercise in futility and frustration to attempt to educate them, by sharing my observations and personal experiences, to the fact that there are ”consequences” from white society, when a Black person achieves a certain amount of success in their professional and personal life. Especially if you are proficient at beating them at their own “game”, refuse to be a “Tom or Jemima”, and demand respect as a human being. These consequences are automatically triggered. I call it the “click-whirl” phenomenon: the required stimulus is received, then “click-whirl”… the machine is started.
I am currently engaged in such a battle at work (see here). I had challenge the status quo. I demanded that those responsible, answer for their actions (well in this case, it was more “lack of action”). I had the audacity to hope that I would be treated fairly and with respect. I literally heard the “click-whirl”. Now I am a marked man. I can see it in their eyes. I can hear it in their voice. I have been identified as an “uppity negro”. I have to watch my back. I have to make sure that my “game” is tight. It’s their game… but I have learnt how to play it with some success… to my advantage (so far) and therefore detriment.
Now I am a huge Tiger Woods fan. I am hoping he becomes a role model for my son. Not only is he successful in his profession and of noble character, but he refuses to be defined as to who he is, suppose to be, what he should think and believe, or how he should behave… by both White and Black America. He has tried to rise above the issue of race and his mixed racial identity, much to the chagrin of the “Black Thought Police” I might add. I am well aware that he is fortunate to have the huge financial resources to protect himself from most of the “consequences” of his success… but apparently not all. On Friday January 4th, Golf Channel anchors Kelly Tilghman and Nick Faldo had the above exchange during the Mercedes-Benz golf championship. She has subsequently publicly apologized for the remark, apologized to Tiger Woods (they have supposedly been friends for over 12 years) and has been suspended from work for 2 weeks. Isn’t that the way it is though… it’s your so-called White friends and colleagues who become the agents of “putting you in your place”.
I for one was not surprised by her remarks. I recognized the “click-whirl” dynamic at play. Tilghman was correcting Faldo and reminding Woods that “we”, i.e., ”White people” don’t “gang up” on “uppity negroes“… “we”, i.e., ”White people” lynch them. That’s the way it was. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it will always be. hahahahahaha
Martin Luther King had the audacity to hope that one day America would be a place where Black people “would not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”. It was his dream then. Today… in 2008… it’s still a dream. Today, there are those of us who have the audacity to hope that regardless of the colour of our skin, we will be allowed to have successful, dignified and happy lives in North America… with no “consequences” attached. Today the reality is that for those of us of African descent, it is as Malcolm X stated 40 years ago: “What do you call a Black man with a phd?” (“click-whirl”) “A NIGGER!”