Thursday, May 04, 2006

Earl's Legacy and the Significance of Black Father's

Yesterday, Earl Woods, Tiger Woods father, lost his battle with cancer and the sports nation took a collective moment of silence to acknowledge the groundbreaking golf legacy he had such a formative hand in molding. While there’s no question Earl helped Tiger hone his phenomenal talent, what has become increasingly clear to me in reading countless reflection pieces is the fact that the relationship between this father and son was a sight that the world seemed to behold with absolute delight. More personally, reading each of these stories struck an emotional chord with me, as the relevance and presence of the black father in America has become a troubling anomaly.

While I can proudly acknowledge my father and grandfather for their countless sacrifices and devotion to my family, I have just as many friends who cannot. The reasoning for this is complex and intergenerational, and I won’t attempt to identify the root of it all in a single post, but I’m cognizant enough to know that it pre-dates my birth and finds part of its roots in the hideous and broken family structure that chattel slavery made common. To be clear, that shouldn’t absolve any absentee father of responsibility, but a contemporary situation with the familiar absence of black father’s has unfathomable historical and sociological roots.

That said, whenever I see a black father proudly tending to his children I can’t help but feel the least bit euphoric. It should be the norm, but we know it isn’t.

Call me corny, but watching music videos like Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us” brings me such joy that I find myself looking forward to having children of my own so that I might offer them the same love and admiration that so many of my peers lacked growing up.

Every time an embrace between Earl and Tiger Woods was caught on camera I found myself gleeful at the prospect that perhaps they were offering some larger lesson to all black fathers about the sheer power of paternal presence. It’s such a powerful force that I have difficulty articulating it, but if you agree than I’d implore you to offer a comment.

Simply, Earl Woods legacy is one that extends far beyond the golf course.

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