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.