For being one of the most successful and richest African-American business men in this country and the world, and quite possibly the most influential African-American male on earth, Michael Jordan typically doesn’t get involved with any controversial political issues that are affecting the African-American community.
Jordan usually opts to stay quiet for fear (one would assume) of alienating or not appealing to his expansive fan base of Jordan shoe collectors, a rare product that transcends and permeates every sector of society.
Jordan decided it was time to speak up and attempt to use his influence for good Monday morning as he spoke with ESPN’s The Undefeated about the police shooting epidemic and rising racial tensions in our country.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 25, 2016
Jordan not only shared his disappointment with the current state of affairs and amount of violence between the African-American community and law enforcement, but related the violence to his own personal experience losing his father in 1993.
— Complex (@ComplexMag) July 25, 2016
Michael Jordan is donating $1 million to the Institute for Community Police Relations, an organization first launched in May by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Jordan has been criticized throughout his career for not taking a stand on any important issues or use his influence to help engender change in society. Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, a very vocal activist during his playing days and life, said this about Jordan in a 2015 interview with National Public Radio:
“He took commerce over conscious,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “That’s unfortunate for him, but he’s got to live with it.”
This sort of involvement and letting his voice be heard on a divisive and extremely poignant issue is a breath of fresh air from Jordan and could potentially be valuable to helping create peace and understanding as an African-American with his level of respect and admiration from the community could actually do some good in helping stop the violence.
We seem to be entering a period where high-profile athletes such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and others are willing to speak out on issues that have captured the public awareness and use their influence in an attempt to enact change.
This hearkens back to the 1960s when many of the world’s elite African-American athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Bill Russell weren’t afraid to speak their mind and fight for what they believed in.
The current athlete often seems too concerned with their brand and bottom line to risk potentially turning off part of their fan base. It is refreshing to see athletes take a stand and have educated opinions on issues that are affecting society.