Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Part 2 of Infinity)

Let's make this a quick one...

White Golf Channel commentator Kelly Tilghman says--ON THE AIR--that the players on the PGA Tour should "lynch" Tiger Woods for his dominance in the sport, assumedly so their chances of victory would increase.

First of all, to address it as a black man...


That's probably one of the most ignorant things I've heard in my life. Seriously. This isn't a comedian that's being heckled during a performance, or a "shock jock" making fun of women he found unattractive (whose blackness, in my opinion, fueled his comments rather than initiated them). This is a Caucasian woman who we're somehow supposed to believe wasn't taught that the word LYNCH only has one context in American history, but somehow she used it PERFECTLY within that context. To me, whether she is racist or not is irrelevant. The words she spoke were inappropriately harsh for the conversation, and I would've been offended to hear them if she had been talking about Phil Mickelson.

Bottom line: first thing that came to my mind--Emmett Till. Black men died for centuries at the hands of white men at the word of white women. It's a painful past that no one wants to unearth. And lastly, concerning the word "lynch": I've never heard, read, or looked up a definition for the word "lynch." For me, and for most African Americans with even limited historical backgrounds, it has never been defined in words, but in images.


Which brings me to the ultimate question: what should be done?

When the Imus situation was coming to a close, with the networks ultimately deciding if he should be fired, what I heard from a number of discussions (of people both black and white) was that the firing of Imus would only make a regrettable situation MORE regrettable. It would force the hand of TV and radio stations in later situations, which would only create resentment. It would open up black comedians & personalities to reverse scrutiny that to this point they've been shielded from (no one's been taken down yet, but it's coming...). And most importantly, in my opinion, it would be a "story-of-the-week" that ultimately leads to no real improvement in race relations, how America views African Americans, or really... anything.

In the Golf Channel situation, we've had two responses: that of Tiger Woods, who has boosted black pride more than any other American in the last decade, and that of Al Sharpton, the pit bull of progress.

I LOVED Tiger's answer: "It's a NON-ISSUE." Now at first when all that flashed in my mind was Emmett Till, I was thinkin, "Tiger, what are you saying?!! How can you be so flippant about this?"

But then I realized, he's Tiger Woods. You think he's never been in a room full of old money, white wine and green jackets and heard something insensitive? Or heard something yelled at him from a faceless crowd of people? I'm thinking he's had to deal with this before. For goodness sake, his sport is all about focus and concentration. And upon realizing this I started thinking about what he said differently. What I hear now from his answer is "You think I didn't know that racism exists? Why waste my time with ignorance? I'm the best golfer in the world. And yes I'm black...but nobody's touching me."

And THAT answer, I support wholeheartedly.

Of course, Al Sharpton completely undermined Tiger's approach by demanding her firing, reviving his role as the "champion of the people"... even though we've never asked him to do anything...

If I could get into a conversation with Brother Sharpton, I would love to ask him one question: What is your plan for Black America? Do you have some sort of idea of where to go after this? Or is it your goal to sit around waiting for every white person in America to say something that gets them fired? Is that even progress anyway? Plus, if there is a problem with who/how stations are hiring, and if the hiring policy is what needs to be called into question, then why go after the individuals in each situation? Why not assemble a "portfolio" of the ignorance allowed by certain stations, and then bring the body of accusations to them with a request that can actually do something positive? Instead of moving CBS to any positive action that will help your community, you just made Imus change stations...?! Who did that impact for the better?

Let's face it--we live in a racially-charged, melting-pot society. The Bible says "A soft answer turneth away wrath," but we've got a bunch of ministers leading the black community to get retribution when they should be showing their people how to succeed in America, and showing America what our people have historically stood for. Instead, it's an eye-for-eye battle between extreme-black and ignorant-white society, leaving anyone of either race that is moderate to suffer the social and societal consequences of the gulf between the two cultures that remains from hundreds of years of slavery and segregation. If a word like lynch is still resurfacing in 2008, I'm not sure how much that gulf will ever be narrowed.

No comments: