It’s About Time, Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan caused quite a stir on social media yesterday.  After all, he did something yesterday that most of us thought he’d never do.

He took a stand.

In yesterday’s The Undefeated article, Jordan broke his silence on the shooting of unarmed Black people and the targeting of police officers.  Here is an excerpt of what he shared:

“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. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

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. 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.”

I have a lot to say about what Jordan said.

First, I commend him for taking a stand when it would have been much easier for him to stay silent.  Jordan obviously put a lot of thought into what he had to say, and I thought he did a wonderful job in doing so.  And props to Jordan for donating $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Second, a big part of me wondered where the hell were these words of activism during Jordan’s playing days.  To me, he would have had a HUGE impact if he took similar stands when he had the chance.

Let’s examine this for a minute.

The best player in the world speaking out on politics (campaigning against the likes of the late senator Jesse Helms in his home state of North Carolina, for example), and on various social issues that plagued the Black community during the 80s and 90s?  Not to mention the violence in those communities over HIS Nike brand shoes (especially the first Air Jordans)?

Could you imagine the effect Jordan would have had if he taken such stands while playing for and winning NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls?  While he had the entire sports world in his hands?  He’d now be as revered as Muhammad Ali!

But unfortunately, Jordan chose not to take such stands during that time.  Remember when he uttered that infamous quote, “Republicans buy shoes, too”?

Again, I am happy that he is now taking a stand.  I love what he is doing behind the scenes in terms of hiring Blacks and other POC (“people of color” for those not in the know) at higher rates to work for his Nike brand and his Charlotte Hornets.  In fact, Jordan has the most POC in his front office than other NBA franchises.

As far as Jordan is concerned, he is allowing his actions to speak louder than his words, and may be more comfortable in doing so.  Again, he is to be commended for that.

And even while he is twenty-five years too late, Jordan is still saying/doing SOMETHING, which is more than I could say about other black/non-white athletes (I’m looking at you, Tiger Woods).

I just think that Jordan missed a chance to make a bigger difference taking such stands as an NBA player.  After all, it takes more courage to do so when one has MUCH MORE to lose as a player than as a powerful business/sports franchise owner who is worth billions.

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