Former NBA star Baron Davis produces stories with social justice in mind

Baron Davis has become a storyteller who champions racial justice and gender equality.The former NBA star's pr...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 2:39 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 2:39 PM

Baron Davis has become a storyteller who champions racial justice and gender equality.

The former NBA star's production companies are putting out provocative film, television and digital projects aimed at increasing the representation of people of color and women in media. One of his documentaries aired as an ESPN 30 for 30, and others have won accolades.

Davis, who was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1999, studied history, TV and film at UCLA before joining the league, so transitioning to entertainment production was a natural fit.

He started with an ambitious makeover of a holiday icon: Santa Claus.

Davis created The Black Santa Company in 2016 after looking at how black versions of Santa were depicted. They often showed a character wearing gold chains or hanging out with naked women or as a "bum."

"I was like, where would you ever find representation of a black man that's jolly, giving, on time?" Davis told CNNMoney. "There is no projection of the goodness and the soul and the sweetness that we bring to this world. We need a character as black men, as black people, as people of diverse color to see something positive."

By making content for families, Davis hopes to connect with adults and kids and prompt important conversations about social issues.

"It's going to drive conversation at home," he said. "It's going to build that kid so that kid knows: 'I've already seen this before and nothing is new to me because these are the things that I'm seeing in the storytelling that I'm growing up on.'"

But he's not stopping with Santa.

Related: NBA encourages players to engage on social issues

Davis' TV and film production company, No Label, will create content with a focus on diversity and empowerment.

It'll follow up on some thoughtful work he's already produced, including the acclaimed documentaries "Crips and Bloods: Made In America," and "The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce."

Davis said the films arose from a need to communicate what it was like to grow up in South Central Los Angeles, while also giving a voice to the misrepresented.

"The Drew," which Davis also directed, is about a storied basketball league in the community that attracts top talent. "Crips and Bloods" chronicles the rise of those infamous gangs through first-person accounts.

"You see these documentaries on gangs, and they're just telling you what the gang's doing, telling you, telling you. So it's like you're so afraid of them and they strike this fear in you," Davis said. "I was like, you know what, let's turn the camera and let's give the camera to them."

Davis sought to show a different side of gang life.

"They're human beings and not all gang members kill people," he said. "With the documentary it was really to reverse the camera and let people know, let people see. Let the gang members themselves, see themselves for the first time."

Davis said people need to be able to be self-aware to change -- something the documentary helped with. He said the guys in the film have gone on to do gang prevention work, have gotten jobs and have started coaching kids.

"Sometimes you have to let the people who are being pressed, [who] are being represented and misrepresented in media, you gotta let them have a voice so they can see themselves," he said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
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Lamar505865
Washington4933125
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Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
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Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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