Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sergio Garcia Branded a Racist--What A Raw Deal

Spear-chucking jigaboo, lazy spook,  chitlin'-eating coon,  watermelon-lovin' shine, no-good nigger and on and on....

Now these are hard-core racial slurs--cruel, slashing, stake-in-the-heart verbal bullets meant to demean and  scar. On the racial-slur meter, these are all 10s. But how do you rate comments by non-whites about an African-American eating fried chicken?  Are they automatically and unequivocally racial slurs? Of course not. Many such comments wouldn't even move the needle on that slur meter. One that's mistakenly being branded a slur was recently made by Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia.

He's being crucified and demonized as a racist for making a "fried chicken" comment. The way he's being treated you'd think he'd said something that registered a 10 on that slur meter. No question,  he's getting a raw deal. There's a stain on his image that will follow him for the rest of his career. Back in 1997 golfer Fuzzy Zoeller made a joking reference to Tiger Woods and fried chicken that has dogged him ever since. You say Zoeller and right away many think fried chicken and Woods and then, inevitably....racist...

Garcia has been under fire all week for making a so-called racial slur.aimed also at Woods. It's no secret that he and Tiger don't like each other..Their feud heated up recently at the Players Championship when Woods apparently did something to trigger crowd noise that, Garcia charged, was a distraction that caused him to blow a shot. Early this week, responding to a media question about his relationship with Tiger, Garcia replied: "We'll have him 'round every night. We'll serve fried chicken."

Then all hell broke loose. That reply was instantly deemed racist. Smelling a juicy scandal, the media played  up the incident. Every time Garcia's reply is mentioned, there's a reference to the 1997 Zoeller furor. Garcia has become the new Zoeller--golf's reigning racist. Suddenly, in the eyes of many, Garcia traded in his golf cap for a KKK hood. Some sponsors apparently will drop him, costing him millions.

Aren't we getting too sensitive about such things? Fried chicken is a universal dish. Everyone loves it. Everybody eats it. Is a black eating fried chicken still a negative stereotype? Didn't we get past that way back in the last century? Just because Garcia mentioned sitting down with Woods to a fried chicken dinner, it's unfair to brand him a racist.

A comment involving blacks eating fried chicken can be racist--in certain situations. That depends on who's talking and the context. If a good ol' boy from Mississippi talks about eating fried chicken with a "nigra," now that clearly has racist overtones. But when someone like Garcia, who has no history of racism--or any kind of negativity for that matter--mentions dining on fried chicken with a black, why would that comment automatically be branded racist? If Garcia had talked about eating watermelon and chitlins with Woods, now that's clearly a racial slur. But eating chicken? It's a reach to label that racist. It's surprising so many people sprinted down that dark road.

Garcia has apologized but apparently he didn't grovel enough. That apology, considered insincere and half hearted, just made things worse. Another apology hasn't swayed anybody. He'll keep on apologizing, no doubt with the same results. They don't work because they seem like damage-control and not from the heart.

It's easy to see what's going on in Garcia's head. It's tough to give a convincing apology when you don't think you're guilty. Garcia obviously doesn't think he did anything wrong. He can't be believable apologizing for a remark he never meant to be racist.

I believe him. I don't think he's a racist or had any malicious intent when he answered that reporter's question. Unfortunately, most people don't agree. They think he was delivering a racial zinger at Tiger.

Sadly for Garcia, there's not much he can do to clean up this mess..Sergio Garcia, racist. What an ugly tag--one he'll never escape.