The stunning downfall of golf legend Tiger Woods has a chapter that very few are willing to discuss.
According to the police report from when Woods was arrested for a Memorial Day DUI, his race was described as “black,” despite the fact that he describes himself as a “Cablinasian” — a hybrid term he coined from being white, black, American Indian and Asian.
Obviously there’s no checkbox for “Cablinasian” on a police report. But it’s clear that the officer who filed the report on Woods’ arrest went off his first glance, or what he may have thought when he saw the golf champion on TV or in the news.
It appears that the officer may have said, “No, you’re black.”
And that’s what many black people in barbershops and nearby water coolers at their places of employment have always thought about Woods’ description of his ancestry.
After his record-breaking performance at the Masters golf tournament back in 1997, Woods appeared in a Nike commerical saying, “There are still courses in the United States that I am not allowed to play on because of the color of my skin.”
Soon after, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Woods said that it bothered him when he was considered African-American growing up. He wanted people to know the full range of his ancestry.
And to some, that revelation was perceived as Woods downplaying his blackness.
There are some within the black community who believe that Woods has done everything possible to distance himself from being black in order to make himself more accepting to white people and their sponsorship dollars. Similar accusations were made in the recent documentary “O.J. Made In America,” about former football star and convicted felon O.J. Simpson.
“He’s African, but he’s a good-looking man. You know, he almost has white features. He wasn’t the typical black look, African look,” commercial director Fred Levinson said, in the documentary, of Simpson’s groundbreaking Hertz rental car ad. “What white America got out of it was they could point to somebody that had ‘made it’ and demonstrated unequivocally that we are more than willing to not just accept you, but to embrace you.”
That type of “acceptance” is what black people tried to warn Tiger about.
And when it came down to it, Woods was described just like any other black man who is put in the crosshairs of law enforcement.
Tiger, we tried to tell you.
— Evan F. Moore writes Fanning the Flames Since 1978, a syndicated column for GateHouse Media about the intersection of race, violence and culture. His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Chicago Tribune and Ebony. Follow him on Twitter @evanfmoore.