With all of the racial tension in the United States between African-Americans the police officers these days, people are looking up to role models and celebrities to get some sort of grip on the situation. One person that had remained surprisingly silent throughout all of the recent tension has been Michael Jordan, who many consider to be the greatest basketball player of all-time and an icon during his prime in the 1990’s.
Jordan stayed mum on the situation until recently when he released his feelings to The Undefeated, a subsidiary of ESPN. Jordan, the only African-American franchise owner in the NBA (Charlotte Hornets) had a lot to say after saying nothing. Jordan started off his letter by saying “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.”
It was clear pretty quickly that His Airness was not going to take sides, but instead plead with both sides of the aisle for some semblance of sanity, saying that “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.” Not only did Jordan ask for peace between both sides, but also announced that he would be giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense fund, each.
Jordan did admit that $2 million alone wouldn’t be “enough to solve the problem.” He just hopes that “the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.” Throughout the letter, Jordan embraced his heritage while also praising the work of police officers, hoping that his voice can make a difference since such a large number of people look up to the basketball legend.
Jordan said that “I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent.”
There has already been a large response to Jordan’s letter, his biggest one since he simply announced “I’m back” in 1995 when he returned to the Chicago Bulls of the NBA. After all, Jordan doesn’t speak politics freely. Some say that he missed the mark by trying to pander to make everyone happy, but those that are less skeptic say that Jordan’s response was much needed to help increase relations between African-Americans and police.
What type of impact Jordan’s letter will have on relations in the United States remains to be seen over the coming years, but it was interesting to hear that he had something to say after many other basketball legends had already made their voices heard including Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Paul. As long as the dialogue is open, there will be progress, and having Jordan throw his hat in the ring certainly helps.