Does Race Make This Risky?

By Dr. Boyce Watkins, BASN Contributor
Updated: December 1, 2009

NEW YORK (BASN) — Tuesday, while hanging out with Rev. Al Sharpton in the studio for a show, I found my mind reflecting deeply on the recent drama between Tiger Woods and his wife, Elin Nordegren.

In spite of the fact that I was sitting next to the man who epitomizes race relations in America, no one brought up the fact that Tiger Woods is involved in an interracial marriage. It wasn’t because we were afraid to go there, it was just that there were more pressing issues to discuss.

One caller, though, called in to the show and slammed the issue on the table like a five-pound slab of raw chicken, using the old O.J. Simpson argument, “Had he been with a sister, none of this would have happened.”

While I don’t agree with the caller’s assertion (we know that marital drama knows no racial boundaries), I found it interesting that some of the black women in the studio smirked and looked at the floor, as if to say, “I hear ya, girl.”

These smirks were not built on agreeing with what the woman said, but rather, on the disappointment and resentment that many black women have felt about the fact that Tiger Woods almost never seemed to show any interest in African-American females.

Unlike guys like myself, who admire Tiger for his achievements, I know a long list of black women who could care less if Tiger were to take his golf clubs and jump off the side of a 10-story building.

The woman’s comment about race, led me down a trail of thought about Tiger Woods, race and how this incident is going to change the way we see him forever. One clear point that can be made relates to the O.J. Simpson case.

Before he was acquitted for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson in 1995, Simpson was America’s favorite black man: He didn’t have anything to do with the black community, and white America loved him as much as they loved themselves.

He simply turned in his “brother card”-never to be seen in a soul food restaurant again.

Fate changed all that, though, as O.J. ended up relying on support from the black community to get him through his toughest hour.

White America abandoned him for committing a mortal sin: Hurting a beautiful woman with blond hair and blue eyes. Had Nicole Brown Simpson been black, it is arguable that O.J. would never have been dealt with so harshly for the next 15 years.

Tiger may be in a similar situation with his wife Elin. I seriously wonder if Elin struck Tiger with that golf club, given that Tiger was going in and out of consciousness and drove straight in to a tree.

It’s odd to me that one of the most focused human beings on the planet was unable to dodge large objects in the path of his automobile. But regardless of the strange facts coming out, given that Tiger is the one being accused of committing adultery, one can only wonder if our society will decide that Tiger is the bad guy in this incident.

Should this incident turn out to be a case of domestic violence, it should be made clear that if Tiger didn’t hit his wife, he is not the one who should be charged and vilified.

There is no excuse for committing violence in a relationship, period.

We have to remember that the world changes quickly, right before our eyes: No one ever thought that O.J. Simpson would be public enemy No. 1, and it was once a pipe dream for Barack Obama to become President of the United States.

So, the idea that Tiger Woods could become ostracized by the American public for the dirt now being released about his private life is not out of the question. I am not sure in which direction this saga is going to go, but I can guarantee you this: It’s going to get deeper before it’s done, since the world has been waiting to see the real Tiger Woods.