(The Root) — A couple of years ago, I turned down an interview opportunity with a major network for the first, but not last, time. The reason was the topic. The producer wanted to know if I, as a black woman, was willing to weigh in on the fact that the Tiger Woods scandal that was then unfolding, in which the golf great was revealed to have strayed from his marriage with multiple women, seemed to confirm that he had a preference for women who are not black.
To which I replied, "I'm sorry. Are you expecting black women to be offended he didn't choose to cheat with us?"
Of course that wasn't the producer's point, and of course I knew that. But I wasn't interested in being part of such a discussion nonetheless. The discussion to which I am referring is the one about how I as a black woman am supposed to feel about yet another high-profile athlete, musician, actor or businessman not only dating or marrying someone of a different race, but appearing to do so exclusively.
I was reminded of my conversation with the producer when cyberspace went into overdrive because Tiger Woods confirmed his relationship with skier Lindsey Vonn on Facebook on Monday. Vonn is a tall, attractive blonde like Woods' ex-wife, Elin Nordegren. Both of them are white, as have been most of the women to whom Woods has been publicly linked.
Let me get this out of the way: I don't care. I care as much about the color of the women Tiger Woods chooses to date or marry as I do about what color socks he chooses to put on each day.
But discussions with friends and acquaintances, a look at message boards, some of the media coverage (including the New York Post's "Tiger's Blond Beauty" cover story of its print edition, which noted that Vonn, "as a striking blonde, is the same type as Tiger's spurned ex-wife") make it clear that some people do care. Here's the question: Should we?
In a world in which multiracial families are among the fastest growing groups in our country, a biracial man is our president and acceptance for interracial relationships is at an all-time high, it seems silly that we would even ask that question.
And yet speaking as someone who has interracially dated, I still acknowledge that though we each have the right to make the choices that work for us as individuals, as members of a minority group, our choices will often be fraught with the weight of history and implications for the larger community.
For instance, there is no getting around the fact that every time a minority athlete chooses to exclusively date women who embody a Eurocentric standard of beauty, that athlete is reinforcing a message to young fans that this is the type of woman a successful man should aspire to be with. Meaning that when that young fan grows up, the idea may be internalized that his beautiful, dark-brown girlfriend may not fit in his lifestyle any longer should he become successful.
Of course this concept is not entirely race-specific. R&B goddess Angie Stone was candid about the criticism she received for dating R&B heartthrob D'Angelo, because she doesn't look like a video vixen. After appearing to intimate that fairer-skinned entertainers are more attractive than those with darker skin, rapper Snoop Dogg acknowledged that his brown-skinned daughter inspired him to become more conscientious of the diversity of models he selects for various projects, something he wasn't sensitive about before.
But when it comes to Tiger Woods and why some are obsessed with talking about whom he or others like him may date, there is a conversational elephant in the room. I am referring to the marriage rates of black women — another topic about which I have turned down television interviews. This is mainly because I have yet to see an instance in which the subject was covered in the media in a manner in which I would have felt proud to participate. But that issue still doesn't inspire me to care whom Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant or O.J. Simpson, for that matter, are dating or married to.
I can't think of a single black woman I know personally who would want to put up with any of them. They seem like walking, talking egos and headaches. I'm absolutely not saying that is the case for all men or people who have a specific preference, but my point is, before expending energy questioning or condemning such men's choices, how about asking why you — or anyone — care in the first place? Would you actually want to be with a guy who only wants to date someone who embodies a standard of physical perfection defined by society — a standard many of us don't agree with anyway?
I have more important things to worry about than who they, or any other person I don't know and will never meet, is dating, marrying, talking to, creeping with or doing anything else with, for that matter.
And frankly so do all of us.
Keli Goff is The Root's political correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.
Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.