This photo, along with its ensuing controversy was an opportunity to act, but has Tiger Woods acted as he should?
After the original hoopla about golf analyst Kelly Tilghman’s comments about “lynching” Tiger Woods in a back alley, Tiger chose to let the issue settle somewhat before saying that Tilghman’s statement wasn’t intended as racist, but her words were poorly chosen, as she herself had already stated. The controversy was once again stoked up when GolfWeek magazine’s cover featured a noose. Whether or not Tilghman is racist I have no idea, but I do know that while using the word “lynch” in Tilghman’s case was extremely poor diction, it doesn’t mean she is a bad person or a racist. It also doesn’t mean that anyone must have an extreme opinion on the matter.
Cleveland Browns Hall-of-Fame running back and long-time social activist Jim Brown disagrees.
Brown was quoted today as saying, “He should have come out right away. Instead, he waited until it was politically correct. The word ‘lynch’ … there is no redeeming part of it. When you say lynch, you’re gonna have to pay the price. That is a very embarrassing word, a humiliating one, in the history of our country.”
Brown is certainly right about the humiliation Americans should feel when looking back at our bloody history (which includes Native American genocide and other atrocities long since passed, recent, and current), but since Tiger Woods wasn’t even alive during much of the civil rights movement, I might give him a pass on the rest of this ordeal.
In fact, maybe Tiger’s doing exactly what he should be: collecting wealth, building a sterling reputation, raising a family, and living his own life. Isn’t that a great way to better the existence of minorites and African Americans? Isn’t that the crux of the American Dream itself?
Tiger has enough money and influence in golf and other business endeavors to be able to build a corporate empire that can create job opportunities for deserving minority candidates who may be left in the dust when older, stuffier (read: racist) types are in charge of the hiring process. That’s the platform for success Michael Jordan chose, it’s the path future ‘global icon’ LeBron James has chosen thus far by not speaking out on Darfur, and it’s the path countless others may choose.
Jim Brown stood up for what was right; so did Jackie Robinson. They chose different approaches. Brown spoke up whenever he felt it right and has continued to do so since his playing days, while Robinson was silent when he had to be, and only spoke up after his actions had spoken for him. Neither man was wrong, and I’ll let you judge for yourself whose approach was more effective, but both men should be respected for their conviction.
There are many roads to success, but the traveller must choose his or her own. Malcolm X chose one path, and then perhaps another, while MLK never wavered on his steady non-violent credo. Tiger has chosen his own views, and I suspect if Jim Brown took some time to think back on things rather than remain in the militant mindset that was so justifiable and logical when he was younger, he might applaud Tiger for sticking to his own convictions.