Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger Woods and Black Women: Anatomy of a (Mis)Quote Gone Disgustingly Awry



By DENENE MILLNER

Let his cadre of stampeding, blabbermouth mistresses tell it, and Tiger Woods has just as much game off the golf course as he does on—and a predilection for lovers who are just as white as the sport in which he achieved his fame. It is the second point that a journalist friend of mine was exploring for the Associated Press when he called me last week to ask if I was bothered by the fact that all of Tiger's alleged mistresses are white.

Now, I'm a journalist by trade, the author of more than a dozen books that explore relationships in all their manifestations, and a frequent analyst on racial issues—plus, I don't mind speaking my mind. So I agreed to be interviewed for the story.

For forty minutes, I went on and on about how I was neither shocked nor cared about Tiger's choice in women because he's never seemed to identify with the "bl" in his "Cablinasian" racial make-up anyway. I went on to say—quite vehemently, might I add—that it no longer bothers me when men date outside of their race. In fact, I even sent a follow-up email with a link to my Something New post, in which I explained why neither I nor a whole lot of the African American women I know are bothered by interracial relationships like we used to be.

Imagine my dismay, then, when I woke up to countless google alerts, emails from friends, angry FaceBook messages from random people, and texts hipping me to Associated Press writer Jesse Washington's story, titled "Tiger's troubles widen his distance from blacks," in which a half of one of my many quotes—a response to Jesse's question about whether black women still ponder why rich, successful black men tend to date white women—was a featured quote in the story's theory that black women are pissed off at Tiger Woods.

For the record, I DID say, "Black women have wondered for years why is it when [black men] get to this level [of success]... they tend to go directly for the nearest blonde?" However, I followed that answer with a huge "BUT," and reiterated that most of the black women I know were neither surprised by nor cared about the color of Tiger's lovers.

No matter what I actually said or think, though. Over the past week, I've been called ignorant, racist, stuck in the 1910s, and ridiculous, and made out to be the poster child for angry black women who think Tiger's apparent preference "is a disgrace to African-American women." One reporter, Jacqui Goddard of The Times of London, even called to get clarification (I presume hoping that I would give her a nice little fiery quote about how black women can't stand Tiger Woods); after I spent 15 minutes telling her my quote was taken out of context and that I DID NOT think Tiger's women were an issue with black women, she printed her piece using the quote from the AP story!

Of course, I reached out to Jesse and confronted him on the half a quote thing; he apologized and blamed his editors for taking out the quotes that made my position more clear. Still, an apology won't stop the google alerts, and despite that I've been going literally from site to site, blog to blog, leaving my REAL position in the comments sections, I've found that getting people to understand that my position is extremely different from that advanced by Jesse's story is like fighting water. No matter how hard I punch, kick, windmill and scream, people are set on believing the worst about black women, and using me to advance their ridiculous theories.

I guess what I was hoping for from Jesse's story was an acknowledgement that black women don't think the same as we did so many years ago. Regurgitated quotes and stale jokes from Tom Joyner and his stable of comedians is not a barometer of how black people feel about this issue. In fact, as I stated in my lengthy interview with Jesse, I think that folks my age who are raising teenagers are being forced to reconsider how we feel about interracial dating/friendships, simply because our kids don't tend to see or harp on color like we did when we were their ages. In that context, Tiger's choice in women is a non-issue. Instead, Jesse and his editors turned what could have been a nuanced story into one long black female rant about black men dating white women—a seriously stale theory that I know black women are over.

Believe it or not, there used to be some rules to the business of journalism. When I got started in this game, you couldn't use a quote from another source unless you heard the person say it to you, and taking a quote out of context had serious repercussions. It was a rule that sometimes made completing your story a million times harder, but as hard as you tried to find your way around it, that rule served a purpose. And just a few years into this brave new media world, I truly have learned how destructive it can be when these rules are not followed—how one reporter's preconceived notions can come close to destroying someone, particularly when one grossly inaccurate quote is spread around the world with the push of an "execute" button.

So, since I can't stop these reporters/columnists/bloggers/pseudo writers from jumbling my words to fit their screwed up theories, let me go on ahead and use MY space to fight back and reiterate how I feel about this whole Tiger mess so that the truth—MY truth—is on record.

I truly do not feel that the black community—and black women in particular—care about Tiger and his infidelity. Nor do we care about the race of his paramours. Tiger has always self-identified as a mixture of races, and that is his right. It is his blood. While it stung when he first called himself "Cablinasian" a billion years ago, we've all pretty much gotten used to the idea that Tiger doesn't consider himself solely a black man, and that he's attracted to white women. AND THIS DOES NOT UPSET US. It is his prerogative, his choice, his right. When the ethnicities of the women he allegedly bedded were revealed, most of the black women I know just shrugged their shoulders, silently wished we could talk about more important things instead of who Tiger's slept with, and MOVED ON. I am literally going from site to site, begging "journalists" to please, please, PLEASE stop using me and a quote I gave to the Associated Press that WAS TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT to bend their stories into stereotypical characterizations of an entire black community. I did NOT sign up for that, I DO NOT agree with the "black people have a problem with Tiger because he didn't cheat with black women" premise of these stories, and I really wish we would stop dragging black women into this mess. Tiger cheated on his wife. With a LOT of women. That's the story—nothing more.





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35 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry you were misquoted girl! Man!! That's one thing I like about TV.. I know there are ways people can still edit out part of a quote but for me... it's harder to do, and I try to always keep them in context!!

    You know how I feel about interracial relationships :) And I know you're accepting of them too!

    Man, SO SORRY about the misquote, that stinks!!

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  2. PS: Well said!! I hope to write as well as you one day!

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  3. Wow, I am so sorry this happened to you. I think that people would like to think that black women still care. I know I don't care anymore. Most of the black women I know have just moved on because we have better things to do with our lives and time.

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  4. Excellent way to stand up for yourself. I support you 100%. And you are right, black women really don't care about Tiger Woods' infidelity. Even though he is heralded in the black community as breaking down barriers in golf, he doesn't identify with the black community. I appreciate all that you've written.

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  5. Thank you for clarifying your position personally, professionally, and as a member of the black community. Its a shame that so-called "news" outlets are constructing a story that Black women even care about the race of Tiger's mistresses, like the infidelity would be OK with us if he just ran around with Black women! SMBH...

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  6. Well said. I'm sorry to read that you have had to go through so much because someone thought it was better press to misquote you than to accurately relate what you had to say. I think it says a lot about the continued deterioration of the moral fabric of our society -- infidelity is major news and inaccurately relating the opinions of another is okay if it makes for what the editors perceive as a better story.

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  7. I can only imagine what you are going through. I received a tremendous amount of pushback regarding the Princess and the Frog non-Black prince controversy. Most of all, I'm sad that you were misquoted. Coupled with that...even if that WERE your opinion, it would simply be that - an opinion. What I can't stand is the whole racist, patriarchal "Who are Black women to have opinions" attitude that is so prevalent in this society. People still have not learned to disagree without being disagreeable.

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  8. I dont think Tiger's personal life is our business nor are we able to judge another person. I would after all expect him to marry an Asian since he is more Asian than anything. I am sorry you were mis quoted.

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  9. I am sorry you are going through this headache. Has anyone called you "miltant" yet, that is a stale moniker as well, but would be more hilarious. I hope you get to a point where you can laugh about all this soon.

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  10. Say What Now? Dragging your name through the mud? THIS IS NOT COOL. I am going to post your link to this post everywhere I see your name being abused or misquoted. That's the mature part of me. The immature part of me want to post comments on those sites cussing those people out for messing with my friend that lives in my laptop. As I've said before, I truly respect the way you have responded to the entire situation. The night we spoke, you know I was HEATED and had to calm down. Your editor "friend" needs to MAKE THIS RIGHT. I would like to believe that he's going to take responsibility and STOP blaming OTHER people for what he did. I hope he's online shopping for a gift to send you for Christmas. That's the least he can do. *looking at Jesse like what? you know you need to make this up to her!*

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  11. Soon as I saw Tiger's quote that he identified as a Cablinasian, (yes it was a billion years ago) I stopped thinking of him as a Black man. As matter of fact I was very confused when I saw him in commercials that spoke to Black issues since he is apparently NOT one, and probably doesn't know any outside of his family.

    I think this whole Tiger thing is funny. Truly I don't care. Truly I wish the media would stop pegging us against white women who date/marry Black men. We are always made out to be desperate, needy, and angry because of our "Black Man shortage." Truth is there are more than 3 million Black men in the world, why should we quibble over the 50+ who don't date us?

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    1. Um there's more than 3 million black men in the world. Where you get this statistic?

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  12. wow. im so sorry that this happened to you. no one deserves to be dragged thru the mud like that without being able to first explain themselves. it seems like people nowadays are real quick to throw stones and they don't care who they hit. tsk, tsk, tsk. fortunately, you have your space to be able to truly express yourself without being "taken out of context". either way, your true friends/followers/bloggers/fans know what you are really about and something like that won't change their mind/thoughts/opinions about u. i know it sure didn't for me. :D *hugs*

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  13. I was hoping the media would leave race out of the Tiger scandal, but I guess they are running out of new angles in covering the story, so let's bring in the black woman's perspective...they must be sooooo pissed! Tiger is just another man (who happens to be the world's most famous athlete.) caught cheating on his wife. How he got away with keeping in under wraps so long is a far more interesting story. I'm so sorry you got dragged into the melee. hang in there. this too shall pass

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  14. Wow! is all I can about your experience. Shame on those behind this misrepresentation. Kudos! to you for responding back. Why on earth would someone honestly think we as black women are sitting around lamenting about Tiger Woods' improprieties? Wake up people(whoever you are)! For the record(to those who want to misrepresent), I am way more concerned with my children's well-being, securing&retaining a job in 2010, the economic state of our country, and healthcare reform. To that I say Tiger who?

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  15. Its weird but the fact that all of the "sidekicks" he chose were white never clicked into my head. I suppose I thought "he likes white women...why wouldn't he cheat with them"? Would it had been different if he cheated with all black women...oh the horror?????? He's a cheater and I wish they would let him deal with that mess with his family. It happens everyday....and what goes around comes around...keep your head up girl...they media truly want what they want and will stir this up anyway they can to make it last....Stay Up!!!

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  16. Yes, it is on record, and your credibility as a long-standing member of the TRUE journalists/writers club was not tarnished by someone else's misquote. To me, it is rather clear that the agenda was set way before you were interviewed, and Denene's "quote" could've been replaced with anyone else's quote to the same end, because they had already decided what the angle of the story was going to be. After all, if the angle isn't about the ever-present "Angry Black Woman", who is going to believe it? Right?

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  17. This is the state of journalism today. It's not about getting the story right. It's now about getting a reaction, making an already salacious story even more exciting. And if Black women have to be misrepresented in the process, oh well. It goes to show you we should all be skeptical about what we read.

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  18. It was literally yesterday before i even thought, "Oh, wow, all the women Tiger allegedly cheated with were white." I guess it's just a reflex (albeit slow). i then shrugged it off because, i, a black woman truly didnt care AT ALL. For starters, his wife is white so it was no surprise that he would choose a white woman to have an affair with. In all honesty i was just shocked that he did it at all and felt badly for his wife!

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  19. I read the AP story with your "quote" on Yahoo news about a week ago and was shocked, particularly since it came on the heels of you penning a lovely article about interracial relationships and your currents views on the subject. I was appalled by the quote, as I know for a fact that these are NOT your true feelings. Indeed, there are bigger issues than the Tiger Woods "story", one of them being journalistic integrity, which is, in my view, barely existent today. What tosh!!

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  20. Oh Denene, I'm so sorry this happened to you. I take a deep breath and cross my fingers before reading anything I've interviewed for, for this very reason. It's also why I love my blog - I can control it. And why I record every phone interview I do. Makes me seem paranoid, but stories like yours are why I do it.

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  21. Hi Deneene, this story was referenced on theblacksnob and I wanted to add that I was sorry this happened to you.

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  22. Sorry about the misquote, but you hit it right on the head, he cheated, he hurt his wife and could possibly destroy his family, who cares whether the person is black blue green or purple. Stick to the issue at hand

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  23. I am so sorry about this. What he/they did was dangerous and unfair. I'm glad you spoke up. Now there will be an army of truth-seekers out there spreading the actual word.

    For what it's worth, I agree with you that none of the Black women I know even discussed the race of Tiger's mistresses. We've barely discussed Tiger except to say, "Dang, did he really spend 60,000 a weekend for threesomes?"

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  24. I am really sorry your quote was taken out of context and that you've had to spend lots of time and energy trying to set the record straight.

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  25. Sadly, this person WAS someone you considered a friend. Anyone who knows you or your work would never believe what he wrote. This type of journalism is always a sign of not really having anything to say. Execumama is right. The agenda was set well before you came into the picture.

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  26. I am so sorry that these fools don't have good sense. People do not understand how damaging it is to a person when lies are spread about them. Unfortunately, people tend to believe everything they read without checking the facts or using common sense. Clearly these people who are accusing you, do not know your work. If they did, they would know that you were misquoted. I am so over this Tiger fiasco. It's his business with his family and it has nothing to do with any of us. MOVE ON PEOPLE! I just posted a letter on my site on Saturday begging for a way to stop the madness with all of these celebs and the media crucifying them. Stay strong my sista. God knows the truth!

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  27. I'm so sorry you got misquoted. That's what seems to pass for journalism these days. It's all about the sensational instead of what's actually true. Case in point, the fact that this Tiger story has been running for the past couple of weeks. Like Black Snob said, "Angry Black Woman will always be 'sexier' to a journalist than Apathetic Black Woman." Honestly I didn't even think about the white woman angle until I read Snob's blog today. We've moved on ages ago. Why can't they?

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  28. So sorry you have to clear up someone else's mistakes. Blogger's being misquoted or quoted out of context seems to be the norm. It makes me hesitant to speak to "traditional" media about anything. I'm trying to ignore Tiger's story. It's none of my business and I'm really tired of it being news. Good for you for standing up for yourself.

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  29. This is just another example of people prefering sensationalism to actual journalism & facts. everybody is looking to "spin" this into more than what it should be: a situation between a man & his wife & their family. period.

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  30. Hey girl! I am so happy you addressed this. Before I read you post, I saw this article by Danielle Benson of http://theblacksnob.com, which provided some clarification. Here is the quote I left on her article:

    "I appreciate this clarification. I've known Denene a long time and as a journalist myself, I KNEW her quote was taken out of context. I've also followed Jesse Washington's career and I was disappointed to see the way the article turned out. I wonder if it was he or his editor who misconstrued Denene's quote. Just disappointing, especially because most people don't understand the editorial process. Thanks again, JD"

    I am soooo proud of you, D! These days its hard to have a lot of trust in any media. You have to hope that good sense prevails, and that sometimes seems futile, too. But you know in your heart what your intent was. And God, as well as those who love and respect you, know, too.

    Go on and raise those pretty brown babies with your loving husband and let this foolishness go. Don't post one more comment on one more site. You've made your case, and those who refuse to believe you, don't want to listen anyway. Bump them!

    Love you much!

    Link to Danielle Benson article in Se7en Magazine:
    The indifference (and unsexy quotes) of the apathetic black woman
    http://se7enmagazine.com/the-issue/41-north-america/801-the-indifference-and-unsexy-quotes-of-the-apathetic-black-woman.html#josc548

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  31. Your response to being attacked is eloquent and to the point. News today is commonly fiction dressed up to resemble fact.

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  32. making tiger's issue a racial one will be letting him off the hook. the hot scandal around him cannot be justified by his skin color.

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  33. Tiger Woods see women as objects of pleasure, his attitude is a real for the world of golf and sports in general.

    Melinda Robinson

    knee anatomy

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  34. I am really sorry your quote was taken out of context and that you've had to spend lots of time and energy trying to set the record straight.

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