In an essay for “The Undefeated,” a sports blog that focuses on race and sports, Michael Jordan spoke out about the shootings of unarmed black men and targeted police attacks.
The legendary NBA player and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee broke his habit of keeping quiet about divisive political issues, writing that he could “no longer stay silent.”
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.
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. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.
Jordan has also donated $1 million to two organizations: the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The former is a newly established training program that aims to improve relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Although Jordan wrote that his donations won’t solve the problem, he said he hopes it will enable the organizations to make a “positive difference.”
“The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow,” he wrote. “But if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.”