Michael Jordan Speaks Out Against Systemic Racism In The U.S And Pledges A Large Sum To Reform

 (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Former Chicago Bulls star and basketball icon Michael Jordan has made a powerful statement in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in the United States and amid the protesting going on across the country.
Jordan, now back in the news on several fronts following the release of The Last Dance documentary, faced major criticism for not being as outspoken on racial, social and political issues during his playing days. The documentary also touched on his refusal to publicly endorse African American activist Harvey Gantt while he was at the peak of his powers in the 90s and famously claiming “Republicans buy sneakers, too,” in reference to his Air Jordan sneakers.
The six-time NBA champion, who is now the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, typically stays away from the media as much as he can - but the latest killing of an unarmed black man by a white police officer got some strong words out of him. Jordan has also pledged $100 million from himself and his Jordan brand to organizations keen on promoting reform, equality, and social justice. He made a written statement shortly after Floyd’s death but has also sat down for an interview with Charlotte Observer reporter Rick Bonnell.
"We have been beaten down [as African Americans] for so many years," he declared. "It sucks your soul. You can't accept it anymore. This is a tipping point. We need to make a stand. We've got to be better as a society regarding race.
"Face up to your demons. Extend a hand. Understand the inequalities. Sure, it's about bargaining for better police, but it's more. We have encountered racism to be somewhat acceptable in certain circles."
Jordan would also stress the importance of education, noting his parents taught him it was the best means of connecting with other people.
“Just because someone grew up in a slum doesn’t mean you should look at them as not being equal — so they, themselves, start seeing themselves as not equal,” he added. “You should not feel you’re better than others because you grew up with more advantages.
“It’s education 110%. My parents always stressed that education as how you best bond with other people. Education is the best route for black people to better themselves. To compete to be the best you can be, you have got to be educated. If you look at this country, that helping hand (to get a college education) is the best chance to stand up on your own.”
The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary that was broadcast on ESPN from April 19 to May 17, is also available on Netflix and was the platform’s most-watched documentary over the period. It was popular enough to have sportsbooks place odds on it ahead of the April launch, with bets being made available on several predictable instances including whether Jordan would cry or if the word “gambling” would come up. Turns out, both of those happened. Aside from that, online casino games remained popular during the hiatus placed on sports worldwide.
Where basketball is concerned, the NBA has set July 31 as a target date for a return and 22 teams out of its 30 have been invited to an isolated location - Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida - to fire up a restart.
Jordan’s Hornets isn’t one of those teams as they weren’t in a playoff spot or within the required number of games behind the last berth, yet the team owner will look to make a difference where it really matters: the continued oppression of black people in America.
Considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time by many, the five-time NBA MVP transcended sport to become a celebrity in his own right and by far the most powerful figure in pop culture during his playing days.
That he’s lent his voice to the ongoing protest and backed that with his money, a whole lot of it, will not go unnoticed by the black community in the United States and will probably be one of the factors that lead to the change they so clearly deserve.