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Sunday, December 16, 2007



Lazy Sunday with insights ...

After a week that included a Wednesday evening party at my little condo -- welcoming young Charbonnets and meeting older ones again plus a Saturday 3-hour bus tour that included a fascinating group of "tourists." This time there was a party of 8 Japanese-Americans; the purser from the in-the-process-of-restoration SS Red Oak Victory; two local second generation homefront worker descendants; plus a woman writer of feminist literature who had been the member of the French Resistance during WWII in the European theater. This fascinating group might well have been more eligible for leading the tour than those of us in uniform. It was a great weekend that ended with a small dinner in front of a blazing fire in the grate and good talk last night ... and dishes left in the sink for a leisurely morning cleanup.

But -- instead of jumping out of bed quickly this morning to bring order to my living space, I lay there watching the Sunday morning pundits re-hashing the week's campaign activities -- which may be what set me up for some wildly creative thoughts that surfaced later in the day.

With only a small nudge of guilt -- I lay there after briefly rising to brush my teeth and what's left of my hair -- re-stacked the pillows and flipped the channels to pick up the Target Invitational starring Tiger Woods. Watched him slowly wipe out the field, including a brief threat from Jim Furyk, and suddenly my eyes popped wide! Watched those great golfers all playing for second place, as usual, as Tiger -- with his characteristic dogged concentration played on.

Of course! Was it possible that Tiger Woods, by singlehandedly overwhelming his sport to lead the field for the past 12 years, that this handsome young black man whose race is no longer mentioned -- that it was he who opened the door to universality for Barack Obama?

Race in the game of golf is no longer an issue. Is it possible that this can now be true in the field of politics, and partially because of Tiger's demeanor and character?

I watched as Tiger performed with perfection the final putt on the 18th hole then walk slowly over to where his mother held up Sam, his beautiful 5-month old daughter. She was held up to receive him (as his father used to do at the end of each match) and he lovingly planted a kiss on her cheek. I'm certain that everyone in the crowd noticed the symbolism in this act of love. He then turned to his lovely Nordic blond wife and they embraced for just a moment. And all this occurred before the hundreds of fans applauding in the background. This scene could not have played out without a causing a riot only a few decades ago. And while there are surely still remnants of smoldering resentment in pockets of bigotry here and there, Tiger's impeccable reputation; his accomplishments on the golf course; his grace and charm; his dogged determination to be the best and to compete with integrity ... all have served to overcome whatever vestiges of racism existed in this -- the most elegant of sports. Tiger has broken down the doors of the clubhouse, and done it with such grace that we're beginning to forgot that those doors were ever closed.

It is perhaps this that has served to overcome the barriers that held those of us of color from even considering the possibility of ever aspiring to the highest office in the land. Perhaps these otherwise unrelated worlds have collided, and Tiger's quiet dignity and total domination in his sport has served to soften the white world into considering the very real possibility that another young African American, handsome young Senator Barack Obama, just might be capable of doing the same for the country and the world.

Maybe Tiger Woods is important in more ways than we've ever perceived him to be -- important as a catalyst for the change that awaits us all. By his grace and elegance, he has provided a model of American manhood that transcends the limitations of race -- and by so doing may have opened another door -- the door to the White House -- for the other young man who may well deliver the hope and inspiration for a nation and a world desperately in need of both.

Now for those dishes ... .

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