Recently, social injustice has become a hot topic amongst professional athletes, and many have come forward to use their platforms to give voices to those whose aren’t so powerful. Athletes speaking out on the ills of their community is nothing new; Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar put their careers and lives on the line, doing something that they felt was their duty to do as African Americans whose popularity crossed color lines. Now, we have superstars like Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, who aren’t afraid to potentially damage their brands and hurt their bottom lines for a righteous cause. These superstars understand their influence, and the power that comes with their words, and they’ve been vocal about recent killings at the hands of officers who were sworn to protect their communities.
Earlier this week, via “TheUndefeated.com,” Michael Jordan released a statement regarding the horrendous events that have recently plagued our country. This came as a huge surprise to people who are familiar with Jordan’s patented silent approach. Jordan has never really spoken up on social issues that concern the people who primarily look up to him and have aspired to be him. The general consensus on Jordan has been that he is more concerned with sneaker sales than the plight of fellow African Americans, and his actions and statements (“Republicans buy shoes, too”) have generally supported this opinion.
Jordan, whose Jordan Brand Company has hired multiple African American presidents, has always silently been an advocate for his community by the way of his company and generous donations. Along with his recent statement, Jordan donated a million dollars to The Institute for Community Police Relations, and another million dollars to the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund. This could be taken to shows that he’s not as tone deaf as we always believed–but nevertheless, his efforts seem insufficient and maybe disingenuous.
Jordan’s letter read like it was constructed by a PR team to appease both sides of the issue, and the fact that’s he donated to causes on both sides lends itself to the idea that he’s unwilling to take a strong stand. It’s good that he decided to break his silence, but but his offering feels like an attempt to quell the narrative that he only cares about selling the same shoes, over and over in different colors, to kids who will do anything to get a pair. Again: I appreciate the words–but I’d rather the voices that speak for me be those whose actions I can believe in. That’s whose voice will inspire me.