Tiger Woods Comes From Diverse Family Background

Getty Tiger Woods' parents Earl Woods and Kultida Woods at the 2004 Target World Challenge.

Tiger Woods coined a phrase to describe his ethnicity: “Cablinasian.” It is a term that describes his full racial identity: Caucasian, black, Native Amerian and Asian. Woods’ late father, Earl Woods, was African-American, Chinese and Native American. Woods’ mother, Kultida Woods, is Thai, Chinese and Dutch.

The Undefeated described some of the barriers Woods has had to overcome over his career.

In the minds of many African-Americans, those achievements made Woods the Jackie Robinson of golf. The analogy would fit nicely if only Woods saw himself as black. Or only black. But Woods, 41, has long chosen to embrace his full multiracial identity. Rather than black, he sees himself as “Cablinasian” — a mix of Caucasian, black, (American) Indian and Asian.

Nobody can argue with his precision. His mother, Kultida, is of Thai, Chinese and Dutch descent. His late father, Earl, said he was African-American, Chinese and Native American. If that is accurate (and some say his father’s Chinese heritage is subject to dispute), Woods is more Asian than he is black. In any event, he has explained that to call himself African-American would have the effect of writing his own mother out of his racial identity.

Woods Has Drawn Criticism For His Decision to Embrace His Full Racial Identtiy

tiger woods dad earl woods

GettyTiger Woods pictured with his late father, Earl Woods.

Earlier in his career, Woods noted he preferred not to identify himself as African-American. Woods believes this would not embrace his mother’s racial background, a decision that has drawn criticism over his career. Princeton professor Dr. Imani Perry spoke about why some took issue with Woods’ classification.

“It sounded at the time like Tiger was trying to make up anything not to be black,” Perry told ESPN in 2015. “When he chose multi-ethnic, there was almost a perception of running away from being black.”

During the same 2015 ESPN story, Missouri associate sociology professor Scott Brooks also spoke of the challenges the golfer faced.

“What Tiger has done has really denied himself any fit,” Brooks noted to ESPN. “While he’s sort of embracing this sort of melting-pot existence and universalism, he’s made himself more of an individual. He’s isolated himself. He’s allowing no one to claim him. He took that Michael Jordan being apolitical blueprint to the farthest degree. Therefore, he has no home. The only home he has, maybe the only place that will ever build him a monument, is Nike.”

Woods’ Mom, Kultida, Is Originally From Thailand

tiger woods mom, mother, family, kultida

gettyTiger Woods embraces his mother, Kultida Woods.

Woods mother noted she considered herself American during a rare 2009 interview. ESPN detailed her background living in Thailand.

“I live in U.S. 40 years now, in Thailand for only 25,” Tida says. “In that way, I’m more American than Thai.” But Thailand is her original home and still is the place she feels most herself. The stoic figure behind dark glasses and under a big visor whom the world watches follow her son on the golf course might seem to bear few similarities to her offspring beyond their broad smiles.

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