Danger! White people becoming extinct
I remember back when Tiger Woods was first blowing up huge on the golf scene and it was pretty funny. Not that he was such a phenomenon, because that was a thrill to watch even for folks like me who couldn’t give less of a damn about golf. No, what was comical were all the stories that started to come out about Tiger’s so-called mixed heritage.
Because , after all, you can just look at the brother -whoops, sorry – and tell he ain’t all the way black. Right? Just check out the eyes. But then you look at the bronze hue of his skin and you gotta think, “Well, damn. Sure ain’t white either. What the hell is this dude, anyway?” Then you see his father, who is definitely black, except you see those real high, prominent Indian cheekbones. But still, we can pretty much all agree the man is black. At least in the way that most of us understand the term in America.
But then there was Tiger’s mother, who I believe is from Thailand. Not a damned thing black about this woman. No doubt about it. And then, as if that wasn’t enough confusion, I remember a reading a story about how the actual percentage of white (as in Caucasian) in Tiger’s blood actually outweighed the percentage of black (as in African American). I can’t remember where I saw that story, and it’s been awhile, but I remember being amused that Tiger’s bloodline now required this much verification and research. Possibly for the sake of national security. And naturally the civil rights leaders wanted to claim right off that he’s …he’s…he’s just GOT to be black because of that mighty drop of black blood circulating throughout Tiger’s bloodstream. Or however many drops he’s got in there. Because in America, as we all know, it only takes one drop of black blood to be black, but you have to be pure as the driven snow to be white. That’s why a white woman can give birth to a black child (like Obama’s mother), but a black woman can’t give birth to a white child, even if that child’s skin makes milk look like charcoal by comparison.
Hey, these are just the rules, folks. I didn’t write ’em.
So then what the hell is Tiger? Well, pretty soon out came another story where Tiger decided to label himself as something I can’t even pronounce. Something like a Caublasian. Something. Anyway, when I saw it I cracked up because I figured right then Tiger’s got a pretty healthy sense of humor. This realization was made even funnier because hardly anybody else was picking up on the basis of the joke, which was that the strictly defined racial barriers and definitions that so many of us grew up under were starting to change dramatically and become largely irrelevant to the new generation coming in behind us.
A lot of us just didn’t want to turn those constraints loose, because what would we be without them? I admit I’m still not quite sure how I would function in an America where I could no longer check “black” on the census. Or where statistics were no longer kept on how we were faring as a race compared to everyone else. Sometimes I wonder if that’s in our best interest as black people to be blended in. And I like being a hyphenated American, man. I just do.
But now comes our new President Barack Obama, and the issue of what’s black and not black enough is back in the forefront of discussion again. But strangely enough, what’s also apparently a hot topic is the sense among some whites that it’s really them who are the most at risk of being erased beneath the oncoming Colored Tide. If younwanna read a really good article about this whole issue, check out this piece in the most recent Atlantic Monthly, entitled “The End of White America?”
The piece raises some really interesting points about the changing face of America, except that I think the one mistake they may have made when giving the article its title was putting forth the attention-grabbing headline that white people are fading from view. In fact, the real story is what is happening to all of us, each and every one of us, as a result of this changing paradigm. Barack Obama – and Tiger Woods – don’t just represent the fading of harsh racially defined categories, they represent the New Power Generation (thanks Prince) that this major shift is creating. Sure, white folks will soon no longer be the Global Gold Standard by which the rest of the world is supposedly measured in terms of how everything ought to be run, and that’s pretty damned interesting. So there goes Rome (again).
But even more interesting is what will be built on top of Rome’s ashes -especially when you see who’s bringing the bricks.