Tiger Woods. It is a name that when uttered brings up images and thoughts of success, achievement, dedication, fame, recognition, respect and wealth. To some. For a few the only image is that of a Black man in a White sport. Like Fuzzy Zoeller who’s only comment about the success of Tiger winning his first green jacket (an honor few professional golfers ever get – and Tiger now has several) was a stereotyped reference to fried chicken. Or Kelly Tilghman who envisioned Tiger Woods hanging from a tree
Before I go further I want to take a moment to reflect on something. In 2007 there were several events that stood out. A few were highly covered by the major news media; others were followed and discussed in blogs like this one. Those events included Don Imus verbally attacking the Black members of the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team
without provocation, Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman hurling the N-word as he rebuked his son for the interracial relationship
he was in, the kidnapping torture and sexual abuse of Megan Williams in West Virginia
, the reports of roughly 50 nooses throughout the nation, and the Jena 6
Let’s focus on the Jena 6 and the nooses. It was a noose that caused the inflammation of that event. In fact it caused multiple events, all racially based, across the country. The sight of a noose from a tree, implying the potential lynching of African Americans
, evoked violence and highlighted the imbalances that exist in the application of the law in America.
All of these things are facts.
Given these facts, it should be obvious to most that a noose is little different than the swastika or the confederate flag to most African Americans. They are all symbols of hate and violence unleashed for the pleasure of people too absorbed with the skin tone of those around them. These small minds needed big symbols to evoke the fear they felt and they made them huge.
How powerful are these connotations? Considering that the conservative counts of African Americans that were lynched numbers at least 3500 over 93 years (which ends in 1958). That after 7 years of debate and stalling, lynching became illegal in the United States in 1922
. That given those numbers and the recent timeline, most African Americans need only look back 2 generations to find members of their family that were affected directly by either lynching or the Jim Crow laws and prejudice that fueled it. That’s 2 generations, even if you are just 20 now.
So yes nooses are not jokes or objects of laughter any more than say Nagasaki, or a concentration camp, or the Japanese internment is. It is a visceral reminder of violence against Blacks merely because we exist. And there is no equivalent that I am aware of that White Americans have ever known.
Perhaps it’s the fact that there is no equivalent that makes it so easy for some White Americans to minimize the impact of a noose, or to call for lynching a person. Perhaps the fact that far fewer White Americans can point to any time in America and their family trees when they were considered, by law, property or less than human or deserving of death because they exist. IF a nuclear bomb had destroyed Kansas City, I’m sure they would understand as I do. IF from say now until 2254
every White American was hit with a whip, 5 times every day for a half-hour each time, I guarantee they would understand.
But the fact is most don’t understand and never will. And that is why Tiger Woods is involved in a news story that deals with golf in the most meaningless way. That is the reason that Ms. Tilghman said the remarks she made (which I discussed previously – Tiger Woods comment impacts Dr. Martin Luther King birthday
), why she only received a 2 week suspension, and Golfweek thought a noose on the cover of their magazine was appropriate.
Because if anyone stopped to think about it, or the events that filled the hours between intense discussion about Sanjiah still being on American Idol, how Anna Nicole Smith died and why
(it was a drug overdose and she was an addict – seemed simple to me), and Ellen DeGeneres crying on television about breaking a contract and losing a puppy she had no right to give away, then you might have noticed that the prominent display of a noose pisses off most African Americans.
Obviously the editor at Golfweek
missed all the abovementioned events, though I would bet that they know about American Idol. I would have thought the comments by the Golf Channel and the reaction of most (not Tiger Woods sadly – he missed a huge opportunity to make a valid and needed point) Blacks would have been a clue. Obviously they took that, and the entire Jena 6 situation among others, as the elephant in the room.
"...we consider Golfweek's imagery of a swinging noose on its cover to be outrageous and irresponsible. It smacks of tabloid journalism. It was a naked attempt to inflame and keep alive an incident..." - PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem
There is no justification for the noose on the cover. It was a blatant attempt to profit off of a serious and offensive event. It seems apparent that they must have felt that since golf in America is so predominantly White their actions would slip through the cracks and the major news media would ignore it. Mostly they are correct, but not enough thankfully.
Let me say this clearly, I hope many in the major news media hear this and remember it. A noose is required for lynching. Neither is a positive nor funny (as many in Americas past felt they were). Both evoke memories of a time in America when we were not the land of the free, not for all not for a long time
. Both evoke thoughts of words whose only use is the degradation and minimalization of an entire race of people for no reason other than their genetic birthright. The use of either of these things is no more worthy of profiteering than using videotape of 9/11 to promote political gain or an air ionizer
There is a manner and way of using both the term lynching and a noose such that a positive is reached. That would be education and sensitivity on what those things mean and what they involved. That would help fill in some of the missing parts in American history, where African Americans are concerned.
But that would involve an understanding that I mentioned previously is missing, and that Golfweek seems far too obtuse to understand.
Labels: African Americans, American Idol, Don Imus, Duane Dog Chapman, Golfweek, Jena 6, Jim Crow, Kelly Tilghman, lynching, Megan Williams, n-word, Tiger Woods