Basketball great Michael Jordan, now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, wrote a brief essay in The Undefeated, an ESPN production dedicated to reporting about how race and sports interact, saying he “can no longer stay silent” about the killing of African-Americans at the hands of police and the gunning down of police officers.
He made two donations of $1 million each, putting his money where his mouth is: one to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the other to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which is the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization.
“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,” he began his statement, referring to violent episodes recently in Minnesota, Dallas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
As a businessman, Mr Jordan became the first African-American majority owner of a sports franchise and has used his business ventures to hire and advance the careers of other black executives. But in his statement, he also acknowledged that how police officers, for whom he has a great respect, might have treated him over the years has differed greatly from the methods they’ve employed against many African-Americans who aren’t the first former player to become the majority owner of a sports franchise.
Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine.
He is, however, most famous for his shooting on the basketball court, not for his disgust over shootings in our black communities either by or at police officers. Still, the words of an influential figure like Mr Jordan will have an impact on events as they unfold in the coming weeks and months, and I hope he can help us burst whatever bubble we seem to be stuck in. He was born to shoot, and shoot he did, this time with his mouth and head.