For four glorious days, he was America's Great Unifier, bringing man, woman, and child of every color to their feet to cheer him on in pursuit of golf's greatest crown.
It marked a cultural first in my inner-city neighborhood: black people jumping up and down in front of their televisions over a game that until then was in the same excitement category as English cricket. And what person didn't shed a hidden tear when, after sinking the last putt, his first impulse was to embrace his father in the crowd?
Tiger Woods's Masters victory adds some powerful new ammunition to debates about how best to end our race problem.
A white friend put it to me this way: "Chris, the biggest mistake the black community made was choosing W. E. B. DuBois over Booker T. Washington. W. E. B. was wrong—fighting to get whites to do right will never win our respect. The best antidote to white racism is visible black achievement—that's what will change white attitudes toward blacks."
Listen to the talk shows, and you will know many Americans agree. Tiger proves anybody can achieve if he or she wants to. He earned his way to the top; he didn't ask for special preference. He didn't march against racism in order to succeed.
What they are really after is not to affirm something about Tiger, but about themselves. The "Tiger antidote" to racism affirms our feelings of inherent goodness as white Americans. It does not require anything of us whites except to continue living just the way we do. Thank God for Tiger, we were right—the problem isn't us, it's them.
But blacks saw a man proud of his multiethnic heritage who identifies closely with his African-American roots and speaks candidly about racial discrimination. They cheered for very different ...1
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