Golf superstar Tiger Woods reminds me of the Oscar Wilde masterpiece, "The Picture of Dorian Grey." It is the story of man whose face never changes, remaining young and vital, only because the ugliness of his soul is displaced onto his painted portrait. I have a feeling if Woods has a painting of himself it is now in his attic, covered and becoming too frightening to reveal.
Woods true colors were exposed when a reporter asked him his opinion about the policy which bans women at the Augusta National golf course in Atlanta, Georgia. Not only are women banned from the course, they are forbidden to even enter the pro shop. The Master’s Tournament, one of golf’s most prestigious events, is held at Augusta National. It is a tournament Woods has won three times. In addition to Augusta, Muirfield, site of the British Open, also bans women.
What was this black man’s opinion about archaic discrimination which makes no sense and harms women’s lives? "That's the way they want to set it up," Woods said. "It's their prerogative to set it up that way. It would be nice to see everyone have an equal chance to participate if they wanted to, but there is nothing you can do about it...It's just the way it is."
It’s their perogative? It’s just the way it is? An incredibly fascinating and passive-aggressive answer from a man who would be saying something completely different if the issue was race. Woods, technically, is right, but it reveals him as nothing more than a coward and a hypocrite when it comes to issues of discrimination. A private club can indeed do whatever it pleases. But it was also private clubs that were the target of Tiger oh so many years ago.
Americans hold a set of values in this country — for both the private and public sector. We are a country based in equity. We embraced Woods because we thought him representative of what made this country great. Now, he is as much an insult to this country as he is to women.
His position is certainly ironic for a young black man who, when he zoomed to the top of the golf world, crafted his early image as one who faced and confronted discrimination. In fact, his first commercial for Nike focused on the clubs that banned blacks from their ranks. Many consider Woods’ activism on the issue as the blow that finally opened previously closed course doors to blacks.
Now it seems the only discrimination Woods is concerned with is the kind that affects him. It’s funny what happens to people when they become part of their Elite. Outrage at earlier injustice is now revealed as nothing more than the pursuit of selfish interests. Demands for social change and more egalitarian rules are found to be great marketing tools — but only until you get what you want.
Tiger’s commitment to the issue of race is as narrow as it is for most of the male Black Elite. The concern is for black men, not black women. The modern civil rights movement continues to obsess about black men, the quality of black men’s lives, and what can black men can get from the system. It is the Black Man who must be ‘saved.’ The Black Elite continue to condemn that pesky black woman to second-class citizenship, as these women raise their children, alone. Manage their households, alone. Deal with violence, crime and poverty, alone. Hypocrites like Tiger Woods fight for the rights of black men because, apparently, when it comes to discrimination against black women, "it’s just the way it is." That painting grows uglier by the second.
Men, like women, understand that limiting women makes no sense, and harms the quality of everyone’s lives. All we need do to see the impact at shutting out half the population is to look at any Muslim country. Islamic rage at the U.S. exists because they will never have what we have; they will never become great. This is due in great part to the fact that Islam excludes, bans, limits and isolates women. We’re better than that and it shows.
It would be nice to hear a white player complain about discrimination against women at these clubs, and I want tot see that, too, but let’s be honest — I do expect more from a man who has had personal experience with discrimination. I have a different set of rules for Woods because he made a career out of supposedly breaking down barriers and opening doors. How dare he, and how dare we, continue to embrace a man who exhibits such cowardice, such hypocrisy—and such contempt for the values of the American people.
Perhaps he thinks he’s so famous now you don’t care about integrity. Maybe he thinks you haven’t noticed that he, like O.J. Simpson, is only a “black man” when it gets him something, but beyond race when being black is too much of a burden. Oh, I know — Woods’ ethnic heritage is a melting pot, but when it comes to skin color he has reaped the benefits, and our admiration. When it comes to his gender, however, he is now part of the club. Literally.
At this point Tiger, I would keep that painting covered if I were you.