Tiger Woods Likes White Women, So What?

By Yvonne Yen Liu Dec 14, 2009

Say it. Tiger Woods has a thing for white women. That’s the unspoken message haunting photos documenting Tiger Woods’ fall from grace: a series of white women, some blonde, others brunette, but all clearly racialized as white. It is also the moral haunting Woods’ announcement of his “indefinite break” from golf and the defection of his major corporate sponsors, such as Gillette and Accenture, worried about being linked to Woods’ sullied image of a Black man trysting with white women. So, Imani Perry asks, what are we to make of this racial performance? She writes:

Americans fear of and fascination with the idea of Black men having sexual desire for white women has a long and miserable history in the United States. It is tied to lynching. It is tied to sexism and racism at the same time. It is tied to stereotypes of black hyper-sexuality and animalistic lust. It is tied to the fall from grace of more than one public figure.

Woods is a victim of stereotypes, twice over. On the one hand, he’s the oversexed beast, with a rapacious appetite for white women. On the other, he’s the assimilated, middle class Black or brown man with the animal still raging within, ready to erupt and rupture his career, in Woods’ case, as the literal spokesman for being clean-shaven.
Perry links Woods’ downfall with the plight of Barack Obama, another successful Black man.

Given how frequently Americans have fallen out of love with a black hero, and how often it has been through the association of said heroes with stereotypes, we have to wonder if Barack Obama, a politician who was called “The Tiger Woods” of politics by some, is suffering from some questions about whether his “true colors” are going to show.

So what, if Tiger Woods likes white women. What we need to be curious about is why that matters to us and the racist and sexist storylines it reenacts. Perry has the last words:

Tiger Woods has and should continue to be with women he finds attractive (although ideally without the lying and cheating). But our collective fascination with that collective of women, and his own fascination with them, is yet another sign that our racial past continues to impact our racial present.

Image from Afro-Netizen.