Charlotte Hornets owner and basketball legend Michael Jordan breaks his silence on the recent wave of violence in America, most notably the high-profile shootings of African-Americans by police and the violence that officers have faced themselves. Jordan, who has not been known for being outspoken about social issues, released a one-page open letter to The Undefeated, as athletes around the sports world have started speaking out in greater numbers about social issues. Here’s what he said:
“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.”
Mentioned elsewhere in the letter, Jordan announced that he will be donating $1 million each to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Both groups work to build trust between community members and law enforcement:
“To support that effort, I am making contributions of $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. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.”
Jordan’s statement follows a number of recent high-profile police shootings, resulting in the deaths of black men across the United States, as well as multiple shooting incidents in which police officers were killed, including a rampage that left five Dallas police officers dead earlier this month.
You can read the letter in full here.
What do you think about Michael Jordan’s decision to speak out on social issues and political affairs? Do you think professional athletes and celebrities should have a conscious duty to use their platforms to speak out about racism, police brutality and justice? I would truly appreciate your comments and feedback. I’d love to read them.