Jim Brown Takes Tiger To Task

NFL Hall of Famer and activist Jim Brown has taken Tiger to the woodshed for not being more vocal about Kelly Tilghman’s “lynching” comments.

Appearing on ESPN First Take, Brown was asked whether Woods had a responsibility to speak out on certain issues, as an African-American, including the recent GolfWeek magazine cover that depicted a noose.

“He should have come out right away. Instead, he waited until it was politically correct [to comment],” Brown said. “The word ‘lynch’ … there is no redeeming part of it.

“When you say lynch, you’re gonna have to pay the price. That is a very embarrassing word, a humiliating one, in the history of our country.”

Tiger has frequently taken criticism for not using his position to more actively promote racial issues. But I’m not in that crowd. To expect someone of “color” to automatically take up the banner strikes me as unfair at best and racist at worst. I proudly wear my Native American heritage (my grandmother was born and raised on a reservation), but have never felt the impulse to promote the agendas of the various Indian movements. I’m an individual, and so is Tiger. We all get to choose what we will do with our lives.

I actually think that Tiger was quite gracious in recognizing that Tilghman meant no harm, and in effectively letting her off the hook. I would like to believe that he did this, not because be doesn’t recognize the insensitivity of the comment, but because he is a gentleman.

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7 thoughts on “Jim Brown Takes Tiger To Task”

  1. Well said.  In my mind there is a huge difference between what was said and a racist comment.

    While lynching can have racist undertones, it is also a big part of western lore/mythology.  Watch any Clint Eastwood movie and you’ll see its broad use—accross all races and cultures. 

    It was a poor choice of words and a bad joke, but not racist.  Part of me thinks the good Rev. Sharpton and others take delight in these type of issues, afterall it allows them to enjoy more national attention. 

    As for Tiger, commenting on social issues isn’t his job.  Beating golfers of any race and color is.

    Reply
  2. I totally agree. In fact, when I think of lynching, my mind immediately turns to all of the westerns that I’ve seen. A classic western plot has the honest sheriff standing off against a lynch mob of townspeople, protecting an outlaw whether he deserves it or not.

    Reply
  3. Miranda – I don’t think anyone is suggesting that her joke was in good taste.  As an African American, I’m merely pointing out that lynching isn’t an exclusively racist act.

    Also, I am suggesting that her bad joke wasn’t meant in racist manner.  And really, that’s the point.  If the comment (not racist lynching, we all deplore that) didn’t bother Tiger, why should anyone else care?  Unless you want to use his celebrity to push your own agenda.

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  4. I think Jim Brown is way out of line! I also think he fails to remember that Tiger Woods has a Thai mother!Tiger is as much a Thai as he is an African American. Do you see the Thai people crying that Tiger doesn’t “do enough” for Thailand?
    The World is very fortunate to have a person as talented as Tiger and and I think Jim Brown should become more involved in whatever projects he feels are important to him and Leave Tiger Alone, so he can continue to be a wonderful human being.
    Just My Opinion,

    Joe

    Reply
  5. Miranda is correct – When Americans or anyone else looks at Tiger Woods, they don’t see a Taiwanese man – they see someone of obvious African descent – despite the fact that he is in another class category due to his inordinate amount of wealth, athletic prowess and social prominence.  Yet, it is indeed easy enough (and legitimately so) for anyone to state that they do not understand why such a comment should be taken so seriously if they have not been subjected to the peculiar pathology defined as racism.

    The person, who posted earlier, claiming to be African American, is definitely ignorant of his history as an African American and should refrain from posting in the future.  There is no reason to apologize for ignorant behavior or comments which are based upon deeply ingrained American prejudices.

    Also, to believe that Tiger is immune to racist propaganda or not subject to the ravages of racist ideology is to miss the entire point of the issue.  Because Tiger was raised in a military environment – although such an environment is anything except antiracist – and spent a substantial portion of his time practicing and participating in golf tournaments -he was shielded from much of the racist activity.  Because his mother is a relatively recent immigrant who has not been barraged every moment of her time spent in public (time spent in private also if the negative media blitz is to be included) fending off hateful stares, comments and actions – Tiger may not have been subjected to as much overt racism as many others have.

    However, this was not the first time, nor will it be the last time that racism will rear its ugly head and stare Tiger in the face.  Remember the not so subtle and stereotypical comments uttered by Fuzzy Zoeller in 1997 after Tiger had won the U.S. Open title?  If my memory serves me correctly (aided by a sports reference magazine), Fuzzy said, “That little boy is driving well and he’s putting well.  He’s doing everything it takes to win.  So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here?  You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year.  Got it.”  “Or Collard greens or whatever the hell they serve. 

    In 2008, must Ms. Tilgman (along with Fuzzy) be reminded that some things are better left unspoken – at least in the general public arena?

    Read Ralph Ginzburg’s book “100 Years of Lynching.”  If – after reading it, you are still unable to comprehend the depth and pain left by the scars which have been indelibly seared into the psyches of Americans of obvious African descent as a result of the terrors of a former American pastime – lynching – then you are hopelessly unreachable.

    I love my country – but I absolutely abhor bigoted individuals – they are the worst representations of what it means to be an American citizen.

    Unfortunately – the rest of the civilized world is still reminded by such insensitive comments, of how much further we – American citizens – have to progress.

    If enough Americans are as unaware of the history as a country as appears to be the case – the future may indeed be bleaker than can be imagined.

    Malcolm X stated, “Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward all research.”

    Learn your history so you know from whence you’ve come, where you are and the direction of your future.

    Reply
  6. While it might be fun to play the “I know more about history and persecution” game (You’ve CLEARLY read many more books than I have) that’s not really the point. 

    Just to reiterate my earlier post: No one is suggesting that her comment was in good taste – just that the comment wasn’t meant to be racist.  So the question at hand really has nothing to do with years of prejudice.  Nor are we asking IF she should have made the comment – we all agree she shouldn’t have.  The real question is did she mean it to be racist?

    If the answer is yes, then I respect your opinion and we can agree to disagree.  If your answer is no, then we should all accept Kelly’s apology and move on. 

    But as you ponder that question perhaps you should consider the fact that maybe Tiger knows something about Kelly that you don’t know.  It is quite possible that the two of them are friends and she took the opportunity to actually explain what she meant. And perhaps that’s why he so quickly forgave her? 

    I did read a good book one time that said to “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your enemies.”  Now there’s an interesting concept.  (Note: this is not a statement meant to justify horrible acts of prejudice).

    Reply
  7. Deron,
    It is 100% racist. I am not even a black and i can see instantly the nature of such a comment directed at Tiger.
    I was not born yesterday so please dont insult my intelligence or any of the others.
    If Tiger wants to downplay it then that is his wish.
    But it is what it is and deserves to be reported for what it is.

    Reply

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