…and When Did “The Juice” Dry Up?
By Katrina Covington Whitmore
Race relations in the United States are in a frightening, terrible state these days. Of course, they always have been,but the civil rights movement of the 60s and subsequent reluctant integration led many to believe that things had improved. Enter the presidential campaign of 2016. It soon became obvious that the ugly, venomous feelings of old hadn’t really gone anywhere – they had just continued to brew and fester out of sight, underground.
Even before that, President Barack Obama’s tumultuous eight years and the racist epithets and hateful symbols that were an integral part of it proved that although there are no open objections to dining in the same place or frequenting the same stores, or sitting anywhere you want in the movie theater it does not mean that Black Americans have been accepted, truly integrated into a society they have been a part of for more than four hundred years. Although Obama will probably go down in history as one of our better Presidents, he battled Congress, the white establishment and the Good ‘ol Boy network his entire presidency. If the President (who they called Obama, not Mr. President) said the sky was blue, violent arguments about the nature of color would erupt, with the majority voting that although the sky may appear blue, it is in actuality green. And despite eight very productive years, a bumper sticker plastered on a car near the end of his term said it all: 2008-2016: End of an error…
There have always been those who think they are exceptions, that white society has accepted them unconditionally, that their color doesn’t matter. The proof is in the people they surround themselves with, those they call friend, their selection of spouse. Black men are more visible than women adhering to this trend. Many well known celebrities and sports icons have chosen women other than black as wives, leading much of the world at large to think that given the choice, black men will invariably choose outside of their race. Walking into a grocery store some years ago, I overheard a conversation between a twenty-something white man and white woman. The man was talking about dating and told his female friend that the simple fact was that black men preferred white women. In actual fact, mixed marriages are a very small percentage of all marriages that include a black partner, which means most black men marry black women. But the perception seems to be that given the choice, and the wherewithal to make that choice, the affluent man of color will choose other than a black woman to share in his success.
Highly visible black men – those we see in uniforms playing for a wide range of sports for example, are magnets for publicity. The better they are in their respective sport, the greater the white acceptance and tacit approval of their pursuit of white women. Especially the blonde, blue-eyed variety. And white women that fit the bill know that all they have to do is frequent places where they know the well-known and well-heeled hang out, let themselves be seen – a trip down the aisle is often their reward. Never mind that unless they met them in college, the women tend to be those on the lower rungs of white society, the nannies, the waitresses, the bartenders, the secretaries, the groupies.
Trying to distance oneself from that prevailing belief by making yourself special, different somehow is a popular ploy, of which one of the most often used is the “I’m not really black, or not very, anyway” explanation. Did someone say Tiger Woods? No one could touch Tiger in his heyday – he almost single handedly made golf one of the most popular sports ever. The world stopped if Tiger was playing; there was virtually no interest if he wasn’t. Proud black people all over America rushed to show their support, investing in golf clubs and lessons, participating in an activity that until now was reserved for the white elite. There were a few of us playing the sport before Tiger’s explosion on the scene – most of us for example can remember stories about Michael Jordan’s extravagant golf games, the eye-popping wagers placed on individual holes – but for most black people, there was little interest in watching a bunch of white men followed by a crowd of white people try to put a little white ball in a little hole while white announcers whispered about their progress using incomprehensible terms like ‘birdie’, and ‘eagle’ and ‘bogey’. It ranked right up there with watching grass grow. And then came Tiger Woods. The black world embraced the skinny, buck-toothed golf phenom wholeheartedly and followed his golfing exploits religiously, avidly. Black men and women nationwide flocked to this new sport; lessons and golf club purchases soared and merchants and golf course owners benefited from a heretofore unknown revenue source. We were following in the wake of the mighty Tiger…and discovered he didn’t want any part of us. It was a crushing blow. Tiger, the golfing Superman, the world wonder, the man who redefined golf, who had made the world sit up and take notice wasn’t black, he was….Cablasian. Ca-what? He was Cablasian, a Black, Asian, Caucasian mix.
Really, Tiger? Cablasian? True, he did have a healthy dose of Asian through his mother’s bloodline, the Caucasian part was a little harder to trace. But then the thought came to mind…if we used Tiger’s criteria, well, then, none of us were black…we were Cablindian, Cablafrican, Cabluwish, why, there were even other Cablasians among us! Massa visited all of our female slave ancestors. I don’t think black women were as surprised at Tiger’s revelation – he made no secret of the fact that he had no interest in us romantically or otherwise – his preference unquestionably the blonde, blue-eyed type noted earlier. And he could get away with making such outrageous statements – he was Tiger Woods!
It was incredibly easy for him to turn his back on his blackness – he was arguably the most famous person in the world, was one of the richest, the most sought after – what did he need black people for? The ultimate sign of his total acceptance in the white world came when he was introduced by a Swedish golf pro to the woman who became his wife – the pro’s very blonde, blue-eyed Swedish nanny Elin Nordgren. (The question comes to mind: how is it that a nanny was introduced to a house guest? But I digress–) What more could the Cablasian man ask for? Too many outside women it turns out. It all came to a head in 2009 when his very blonde wife kicked his ass and left him, walking away with $110 million in the divorce settlement, his white friends abandoned him in droves, and to add insult to injury, his skill on the golf course deserted him completely and now the man can’t beat a rug.
Then in May of this year, Tiger’s mug shot was splattered all over the news. Every media outlet across the country raced to dig up all the dirt they could on this disgraced celebrity sports figure. Tiger Woods? Arrested for DUI? From the dizzying heights of his career, he seems to have hit rock bottom – now he’s just another disheveled black man with his mug shot on television. Even later explanations that it was all a misunderstanding and the result of a bad reaction to a prescribed medication fell largely on deaf ears. The fall from grace can come hard and fast, a headlong tumble. Cablasian, Tiger? Uh-huh…and how’s that working for you?
Before Tiger, O.J. Simpson was that larger than life sports figure – O.J., the Juice, the brash, handsome football player who made history. His fame followed him off of the ball field – most of us can remember the classic commercial of him racing through the airport, effortlessly dodging people and obstacles, and his appearance in the blockbuster about a fire in a skyscraper, even if you can’t quite remember what his character actually did or what happened to him in the end.
O.J. was another one who left his black roots for the allure of the white world. He became “the Juice”, seen everywhere with all the right people, extremely popular, rich, on top of the world. Then during a wild night on the town he met waitress Nicole Brown, and the rest is history. Of course everyone knows the long, sad sordid story of O.J. Simpson. His fall was even worse than Tiger’s. Acquitted of murder in the courts, he was condemned utterly by the white world, hated and despised, ostracized and alone. Apparently the poor man had too many thumps on the head from his football days – he refused to accept the fact that the life he had known was over, gone forever and could never be revived. Up to and including the day he was arrested for stealing after being set up by his so-called white friends, O.J. tried desperately to regain his lost glory. He slipped up – and the white world was waiting for him. Now he’s just another pathetic black man in prison.
Which just goes to show – when push comes to shove, when the chips are down…if you have that warm pigmentation or if anyone in your family has or had it…you are black. Live with it. Deal with it. Embrace it. You’ll find it’s not a bad thing to be.
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