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Tiger and The Old Man

Tiger and the Old Man, a Perspective from Greg Powell, Photo by City News/TV24

Tiger and the Old Man

It’s first Sunday late night in the church basement. Congregation members have long gone home. The Old Man is holding court with a group of neighborhood church pastors and ministers. He lives at the church. He offers this space and time for highly stressed ministers to unburden and unwind.

Books and ancient manuscripts of every description line the walls. The scent of coffee mingles in the air with cigarette smoke. The men all have crumpled suits and proud dispositions. They come because the Old Man is father, mentor and teacher to them.

“Man, Tiger is back! Did you see it? The crowds following him down the 18th hole! The greatest comeback in sports history!”

“Fuck Tiger Woods”, says Bro. Ben, the only non-minister who’s a regular attendee. He’s a retired jazz musician who plays at the church because the Old Man is the only pastor he’s ever been able to relate to. “Negro don’t know who he is!”
“Come on Ben! Why you wish to cut the brother like that?” Pastor Thompson somehow manages to spit out between laughter and exhaled smoke.

“Look man…I’ll give Kitty Cat Woods credit for this: ain’t too many bros could come back from getting his ass beat by his white woman with his own clubs. But I’m done with that negro… ’cause ya’ll preachers won’t let me say the other word… he confused. Telling everybody to respect Trump because he the president. How he gonna be the golf buddy of a white supremacist and call himself a black man.”

“Well…um…he really never identified black”, interjected Dr. Joston, who pastors a small Methodist church and teaches systematic theology at a local seminary. “He says he’s Cablinasian.”
There is a pause. Then all the men shake with laughter. “Get the fuck outta here with that shit.”
“Watch your language son”, the Old Man says sternly with a laughter induced smirk on his weathered face.

“Sorry sir. Look…my daddy was a golfer…could play his ass off…sorry…and golf clubs wouldn’t even let him in because he was black. Broke his heart because he loved the sport, God rest his soul. So I can’t get excited about a black man who don’t even know he black. He hang white, act white, fuck white…sorry…and think white. He ain’t nothing but an Oreo.”

The Old Man taps his hand on the table signaling for quiet, digs into his overstocked dusty bookshelves, and pulls out a weathered pamphlet entitled: “Racial problems in South Africa,” Speech by Oliver Tambo at the second Pan-African Youth Seminar Dar Es Salaam, 5 August 1961. Utilizing his photographic memory, he locates and reads aloud this passage:

“We have got to move away from the concept of race and color because that is what apartheid is. We cannot end apartheid if we retain these concepts.”  The Old Man pauses, looking at the minister’s stunned faces. “Oliver Tambo.  Look him up. A real revolutionary.”

“Now let’s open our Bibles…”