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Today in Post-Race History: Stripes

Dear Tiger Woods,

Welcome back, sir! We have missed you. Your re-emergence will undoubtedly help the multiracials get their swagger back, and just in time for the 2010 census! (How many boxes do you check, Tiger?) 2009 was definitely a bummer for the American mixed-race, but now, with BHO passing health care reform and your return to the golf course, 2010 will be the year of Mo’Nique, Tyler Perry, and the racially ambiguous. The post-race universe is back in order.

Last year was tough for world’s most famous Cablinasian. You experienced every part of that portmanteau, Tiger. You started off as the best golfer in the world, dominating the sport so thoroughly that only Benjy Compson wailed louder than those good ol’ boys yearning for the days of yore as you raise yet another trophy over your head [Ca]. Yet the sex scandal combined with that Vanity Fair cover darkened not only your future, but your skin tone, and we wondered if you’d been hanging out in the driving range in the midday sun too often, or had visited Jack Johnson’s grave while on the tour [bl]. Embarrassed, you disappeared for three months [in], only to hold a press conference and remind us that you were a Buddhist, and thus not sexually predatory [asian]. Working your way through all those stereotypes in a matter of months must have been tiring. I’d take a long vacation, too.

I’m sure there are plenty of golf lovers and just plain nosy folks who plan to watch your press conference scheduled for later today. Though I do hope a reporter asks you why you didn’t demand that someone photoshop your nipple hair, I won’t be tuning in. We already know the real answer, which is, in order for you to distance yourself from 2009 and all the implicit racialization your scandal entailed, you have to win. We’re not color-blind, Tiger. We never really went for that Cablinasian crap. It’s just that with you, most of us only ever saw red.

Tiger, Americans are a forgetful people, and what we want to forget most is the way we associate (pathological) behavior with racial identity. The plantation model notwithstanding, the confines of the arena remain one of the few (if not only) spaces where our racial assumptions aren’t on full display. We only ruminate on Darwin’s athletes during half-time. We care about wins and losses. As long as the ball is in play, we’ll forget about all those white women you slept with. Which is to say that we won’t remember that you’re (part) black. You’re 100% winner.

By the way, I found your shirt. It was in the San Fernando Valley. You might want to look into that.


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