Michael Jordan Addresses Police Brutality in Letter
*Photo via CelebrityNetWorth.com
When news broke Monday afternoon that Michael Jordan, the most celebrated player in American basketball, had broken his proverbial silence to speak out on police brutality against members of the Black community fans eagerly flooded Google searches, took to social media and clamored over the piece-meal one-page letter the lone Black team owner exclusively penned in The Undefeated. Complete with a close up photograph in a thoughtful pose, MJ vaguely touched on the social injustices faced by African American citizens who are maimed and killed by police officers. “As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in senseless violence, and a black man, I am deeply troubled by the deaths of African Americans at the hands of enforcement and angered by cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers,” the piece begins, “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
Jordan, a dark-skinned African American man who stands at an impressive six foot six stature stops just short of fully supporting the Black community, the community he is a part of. The same community that supports his business pursuits, flocking to retailers to purchase his shoes year after year. The same community that he, for so long, has not spoken for. He doesn’t immediately denounce the murders of Black men, women and children outright and demand change. He doesn’t say enough is enough, instead he plays the fence with the “I am deeply troubled…” byline. Deeply troubled? A person is deeply troubled when one person is killed at the hands of police, according to mappingpoliceviolence.org unarmed African Americans were killed by police at a rate five times the rate of unarmed Caucasians. Police killed a reported 346 Black citizens in 2015 and Jordan is only deeply troubled.
Critics have cited Jordan’s absence from social issues affecting his community as a hallow business minded one, “He took commerce over conscious. That’s unfortunate for him, but he’s got to live with it,” fellow retired superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar famously said of Jordan in an NPR interview. I have to agree whole-heartedly with Kareem and his peers who have called the North Carolina alum a non-factor on social issues; he’d rather Black boys grow up buying his famed sneakers than grow up hearing him advocate for their safety.
The letter serves more as a press release detailing his $1 million donations made to the Institute for Community Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Jordan even makes an attempt to weather the backlash of his inconsequential financial contributions, “Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope resources will help both organizations make a positive difference,” Jordan wrote. He did not attend the funerals of slain Black citizens, he did not join mourners to protest police brutality in the streets, he did not publicly support the Black Lives Matter movement, he threw some amount of ‘leave me alone’ money at the issue, typed up a few paragraphs and hoped that the internet news cycle will hail him as a hero.
He claims that he’s deeply troubled. It is going to take more than a one-off donation and well-written article to jettison the historically barbaric treatment of the Black community by the police in the United States, a cultural norm that has been entrenched in the department since the end of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. Jordan’s statement isn’t one of genuine concern nor a heartfelt message to those around the country, it’s part of a business strategy to quietly acknowledge his blackness, acknowledge the plight of those who look like him, acknowledge the barbarism before announcing a release date for some sneakers.