Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another Sports Writer Misses the Point

This time, it's Baltimore Sun columnist Gregory Kane! C'mon down, you're the next to weigh on the Kelly Tilghman comment on "Blow This Story Out of Proportion!" Gregory Kane is a black columnist. He also has writing duties outside of Baltimore and writes for a site called Black America Web. In his commentary on the Tilghman situation - approximately 2 WEEKS LATE TO THE PARTY - he weighs in with the perspective that Tiger Woods' forgiveness of Kelly's comment is just as bad as the comment itself.

From Kane's own keyboard:

Woods has said he and Tilghman are good friends and that he wasn’t offended by the “joke.” Now, what else would you expect a black man who refers to himself as a “Cablinasian” to say? Woods has no more idea how utterly stupid and offensive Tilghman’s remark was than Tilghman does. No wonder they’re good buddies.

Woods’ agent said the golfer considers the matter closed. Honchos at the Golf Channel called Tilghman’s choice of the word lynch “inadvertent” and added that “she did not intend (it) in an offensive manner.” In other words, Tilghman’s ignorance is her defense.
Fortunately for the piece, Kane cites author Elliott Jaspin's work on the history of lynchings. It is a chilling, but short, account of what really happened in various styles of slave torture. That is about the only educational part of the piece, in my mind, if the reader is unfamiliar with US history.

I think Kane totally misses the point of Woods' apology. Yes, it did have something to do with the fact that Tilghman and Woods are friends. A friend defends a friend when they can.

But I think the greater motivation for the public support by Woods is the fact that Woods chooses to avoid controversy. He very rarely makes comments on social issues because he feels his charity and social work is something that is private. One can extend his views on outing his social work to outing his sociopolitical leanings.

Woods knows what lynching meant in the south and the symbol is still means today, Mr. Kane. You would have to be a moron to suppose otherwise. But think back to when Fuzzy Zoeller made racially inappropriate comments following his win at the Masters in 1997. Tiger let that slide off his back publicly. Is Mr. Kane equally as outraged about that?

He shouldn't be. Why? Because Tiger Woods doesn't care what the detractors say. He is a tough guy and probably the most mentally tough athlete in the world. Distractions like this are simply non-issues for him. I would quote Jay Z, but it's dirt off the shoulder for Woods when things like this happen. He knows his identity, is confident in who he is and isn't, and surrounds himself with people that he feels in whom he can confide and trust. Everyone else is just kind of out there, with the noted exception of the people aided by his charity work - mainly kids.

In other words, he does not blow things out of proportion. He has a sensibility of when to be offended, when to express outrage, and how to remain in control of himself. White people that are afraid of urban centers because of perceived crime problems should take a page from his book.

I guess I simply do not understand why wanting to move on from this bad situation to a more fruitful discussion of race relations is a bad thing. These situations can be turned into opportunities to clear the air about where we really are as a society. They are not meant to be used be any race of people to pander for anger, sympathy, ignorance, or bigotry. They are meant to get us closer to equality, empathy, and understanding. Columns like Mr. Kane's limit that opportunity.

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