While watching this admittedly insane and epic 22-minute interview between Chris Cuomo and LaVar Ball on CNN, one question kept popping up in my mind, and it wasn’t about the next time Cuomo will post a thinly veiled thirst trap on Instagram. No, the question is: what if all black fathers cared as much as LaVar Ball?
The trope that we’re used to seeing among prominent black entertainers (especially professional sports figures) is the long-suffering single black mother, trotted out during the NFL or NBA draft as a model of strength and security for her son. The father? Well he’s usually nowhere to be seen, addressed only as a fleeting figure in the past or, in the case of Drake, someone who pops up for the money, cars, and booze once the forgotten progeny happens to become a multimillionaire.
We’re so used to seeing these single black mothers that LaVar Ball is quite the anomaly: a black man who raised his son, is proud of him, and will defend him against the forces in America that gather to tear down young and successful black men because we haven’t yet gotten over our fear of them. Ball is eccentric, outspoken, and (if you watch the clip) an expert in anchor-trolling, but man, what I wouldn’t give for a father who would go to bat for me like that. A father that knows how he seems to people not used to seeing black fathers but doesn’t care because his deep love for his son obviously overrides any concern of what the world will think.
We could use more adult males that at are at least trying to teach us how to be men. We could use more adult males that have our backs in a world that can’t wait to throw us away. So even though LaVar Ball does some outlandish shit and says crazy things, I can’t look at him as a kook, or a loudmouth, or someone who should just sit down and shut up. When I look at LaVar Ball passionately defending his son in the media, knowing that every hint of crazy is underlined by the love he has for him, I refuse to say he’s crazy. I just say: “Damn, what if more black fathers were like LaVar Ball?”
If there were more fathers like LaVar Ball in the community, perhaps we’d see fewer players squander a $200 million fortune. If we had more black fathers like LaVar Ball, perhaps we wouldn’t see so much #blackboyjoy drain from the faces of our boys so quickly, as they’re forced way too early to be the men that society will see (and try) them as too soon. If there were more black fathers like LaVar Ball, perhaps there would be more black male role models for young men within the community. If there were more black fathers like LaVar Ball, perhaps a black man being there and standing up for his son would be the norm instead of an exception that most only know how to deal with by ridiculing it.