Ernest Baskerville

Husband / Coach / Connector

GROWING UP: I am born and raised in Los Angeles. I am the product of LAUSD public school system. I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of gang activity, but stayed out of it. I attended Cal State Northridge, but graduated from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey with a B.A. in Social Science. I took care of my mother in the last few years of her life, so I was able to finish with online classes at Thomas Edison. For 15 yrs I worked  at Johnnie Cochran’s law firm and produced community relation events and did PR for the community service division. He taught me a lot about being of service.

CURRENT GIG: I am married and have a young son. I am the Director of Sports Marketing for the John Wooden Award. We award the top college male and female players in the nation. I also coach high school basketball in the evening. I love working with kids. I am also the VP of the LA Jr Chamber of Commerce and do community based work.

EXPERIENCES WITH RACE: I used get pulled over about every 3 months when I was young. Once they pull me over they realize I am a professional they apologize. They usually tell me that my car fit the description of one they are currently looking for. It never makes sense. Racial profiling has become the norm. When it happens so much, young black males have come to expect it and they shouldn’t. When you see things so much, other races have come to believe that young black men are up to no good. There are a lot of young individuals who are up to no good, however, it is not because of their race. Racism taught me not to get upset even when police are profiling. It never helps to get upset. I saw my brother being treated so violently and die at an early age. I have learned and now teach young men to be calm and talk with the police like a normal conversation. If you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. Both you and the police want to go home to their families. Stay level headed and communicate. It may not be right, but just stay safe so you can go home.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am a family man even though I grew up without a dad. I have watched other parenting styles and Johnnie was like a father to me. It became important for me to learn how to be a good parent. I am an ordinary guy who loves movies. I connect people because I have always gotten jobs from people I know. So I do the same thing and want to connect others. I am about change in this world. If you act a certain way, you get a certain respect from people. Unfortunately, most people view black males as intimidating, wild, uneducated and ignorant. However, most of the community is about empowering, giving back and mentoring youth. Through coaching and community based-work with kids, I explain that all your choices are going to affect you. Pay attention to your circle of friends and get your education so you have more choices. Through education there is nothing anyone can take away from you. Stay out of the system because once you are in, they have you. I am going to make sure my son has opportunities at a young age unlike I did. He will be educated so he has choices.

Photographed by Spencer Susser