I have had plenty of arguments over whether racism is still prevalent in today’s society or if racism is mostly behind us. The truth is, we are far from living in a post-racial America. It is true that overt racism is on the decline, but covert racism is still deeply embedded in this country.
Sergio Garcia, a professional golfer, was recently asked if he would invite Tiger Woods for dinner during the upcoming U.S. Open. Garcia responded, “We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.” The comment was undoubtedly referencing Woods’ ethnic background since he is one-quarter black and often perceived as black by the media and public. This was not exactly an inside joke between friends. On the contrary, Garcia and Woods have a history of rivalry including Garcia claiming that Woods distracted him during a shot at the Players Championship (Woods won the championship).
Garcia later apologized for his “fried chicken” comment:
"I apologise for any offence that may have been caused by my comment on stage during The European Tour Players' Awards dinner. I answered a question that was clearly made towards me as a joke with a silly remark, but in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner."
It seems unlikely that Garcia’s comment was not directly referring to stereotypes of blacks. Of all the foods he could have chosen, he chose fried chicken. Woods certainly took offense, tweeting in response, "The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate."
Garcia’s main sponsor, TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, is reviewing the situation and may end their contract.
Garcia’s “fried chicken” comment isn't just offensive because it plays off a stereotype of blacks. It also references the grim, historical period of slavery in America. Black slaves often ate fried chicken due to the fact that it was the only type of livestock they were allowed to raise for themselves. Chicken was considered the lowest on the hierarchy of consumable meats. Thus, making a comment about blacks eating fried chicken is a reminder of the historical oppression their ancestors once faced. Garcia, who is Spanish, did not understand the gravity of his remarks because he is privileged to not make that immediate association — or perhaps because he just didn't know the history. However, just because Garcia did not perceive his comment to be seriously offensive does not justify its usage.
This was just another reminder that racism is still at large, both in the U.S. and worldwide. We may live in a time period where lynching and cross-burning are illegal. But we must recognize the covert racism often plaguing the media, racial profiling by the police, and absurd self-defense claims.
If we think we live in a post-racial world, we'd better start acting like we do.
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