I just watched this commercial. Actually I like it a lot. Because you know if Earl were alive, he’d have some things to say about what’s gone down and Tiger’s um, behavior.

Earl Woods remains a member — even in death — the pantheon of controversial African-American fathers who created icons out of their children — this pantheon includes Richard Williams (father of Serena & Venus), Matthew Knowles (father of Beyonce) and even yes, Joe Jackson (of the Jacksons). Pantheon is probably not the right word, but all of these larger-than-life dads struggled to stay in the background given their heavy and hands-on involvement in shaping their childrens’ success.

It’s an interesting spectrum of black fatherhood on display in the popular culture’s imagination — our dads are either entirely absent, deadbeat and/or dangerous like Precious’ daddy. Or they are overbearing, all-powerful and…dangerous.

That said, it’s hard to imagine a comparable white father-child relationship where this video would even make sense or have the same potential emotional impact. The only famous dads that leap to mind are those of Lindsay and Britney — different relationships indeed.

My father was pretty present while he lived. He wasn’t overbearing and was in fact, an incredibly nurturing parent. However he shared with my mother a keen interest in preparing my brother and me to overcome the unique challenges and obstacles to achievement that being black in America presents. The words Tiger’s dad says to him in this video (although I’m sure they were probably originally about Tiger messing up on the golf course somehow) are words that I could hear my own father saying — in his own way, of course. Anyway, it’s an interesting choice that Nike makes — not to hide from the scandal but to acknowledge it head-on. After all, there’s the game of golf — and then there’s the game of life.

The camera places us in the position of Tiger’s father would — face-to-face asking real questions that aren’t just about golf. But about integrity. Anyway, what do you think — is this video exploitative of Earl’s memory? I assume it was done with Tiger and his mother’s permission. Or is it brilliant…? And what does it say, if anything, about the perception of black fatherhood in America?

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