After years of gaining a reputation for being politically passive, Michael Jordan penned a letter about the killings of black people and the targeting of police officers, which was published on The Undefeated. Some are wondering if it is too little too late.
Jordan is considered by many to be the best basketball player in the entire history of the game. While the legend of what he accomplished on the court grew, so did the mystery of what he did off of it given his penchant for privacy. Eventually, his silence on political issues, especially those affecting the black community, led to a common belief that he was more interested in financial growth. No more, says “His Airness.”
“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers,” Jordan said. “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
He then focused on the unfair treatments of people of color by authorities and the damage that can be done when people unfairly target police officers.
“We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported,” he said.
The NBA’s only black majority owner also used the letter to announce two $1 million grants that will be awarded to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference,” Jordan wrote.
This statement that many feel they’ve been waiting years for comes during a time where athletes are being more politically proactive than they’ve been since the Civil Rights Movement. But this decision has brought to light a silent pro-black history.
When former Los Angeles Clippers Owner, Donald Sterling, was thrust into the spotlight in 2014 after a recording of a racist tirade was released, Jordan stepped up to condemn them. “As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views … As a former player, I’m completely outraged,” he said.
According to The Undefeated, the Charlotte Hornets currently have more people of color in their highest front office positions than any other major sports program in North America. This includes all franchises in all major sports. And the $2.8 billion Jordan Brand company, which many use as ammunition to say “If our people support your product, why don’t you support us?”, has had a black CEO since it was created. Perhaps Jordan’s been for the people all along, but from behind-the-scenes.
“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities,” Jordan said to close out the letter. “The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.”
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