Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The other day my friend mentioned that she'd read an article by an "angry" Asian man who wanted to know why Tiger Woods is heralded as the "first African-American golfer who"...when Tiger is technically more Asian than he is Black. My first response to this "Tiger is more Asian than Black" theory (and I apologize Earl Woods, may your spirit rest in Peace) was to say that Earl Woods might have exaggerated his Asian heritage because Black people of a certain age like to claim some "Indian" blood to boost their self-worth. And while I found plenty of articles that try to quantify Tiger's racial lineage, it seems only clear that his mother is half-Thai and half-Chinese with some Dutch ancestors lurking in the mix. And his father was the product of two "Officially" Black parents, but his mother had a light complexion and rumor had it that she had a Chinese ancestor in her past.
So after my rigorous research, I can only conclude that Tiger is pretty much Black AND Asian. Which means that Angry Asian man is completely justified in asking why he is celebrated as the first African-American golfer to break all these records. Why is he always erroneously labeled by the media? Why all the Fried Chicken and lynching comments? Why does Black America claim him as their own (although somewhat grudgingly considering he refers to himself as a Cablasian.)?
I'll tell you why. BECAUSE HE LOOKS BLACK! It is really that simple. People see his dark skin. People saw his Black father constantly by his side and put two and two together and came up with, Black. But that doesn't mean it is right or fair. It also doesn't help society see beyond Black and White. Every little Asian (Thai, Chinese or other), biracial, or mixed child should also feel like they too can claim Tiger out in public and not simply behind closed doors.
So I have a solution. Rather than fighting for the right to label Tiger as Black or Asian and getting into a Tiger Turf war, I propose we reinstate the word Colored to the American lexicon. Yes it has a negative history but it perfectly describes Tiger Woods and every other person of color. We are colored. I am colored. Tiger, perhaps would be Multi-Colored. I think it works and nobody has to feel excluded. Pretty much anyone with a little bit of extra melanin can join this group.
Imagine a world where Colored people stopped trying to separate themselves and instead embraced their commonalities. I'm not saying we should all forget our unique cultures, not even. It's just that when we spend all this time trying to decide where a person belongs and who has rights to claim him it leads to tension and strife and generally there is no correct answer. So all I'm saying is go with Colored. It's easy.