Michael Jordan is a man of great influence. He is widely considered the greatest basketball player of all-time and to this day, he retains a presence in the league as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
He recently lost the NBA All-Star weekend that his Time Warner Cable Arena was set to host in 2017 after the league couldn't take the event to North Carolina in light of the controversial HB2 bill.
MJ took the setback in his stride, admitting that he could understand why the NBA made the decision that they did. When it comes to the recent tragedies across America, though, where African-American males have died at the hands of the police and a slew of police officers lost their lives by way of retaliation, Jordan cannot bite his tongue anymore.
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He cannot. He will not.
Jordan released a statement to The Undefeated speaking out about the recent violence in the hope that his standing and status can be a catalyst for the chaos to end and then the nation can start to works towards a resolution.
The statement 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.
“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.
“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.
“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, 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.”
Jordan's generous donations to both sides will hopefully serve as a peacemaker. Yes, the Chicago Bulls legend has plenty of money from his playing career and Jordan brand under the Nike umbrella, but that's not really the point here.
He has spoken out, put his money where he mouth and indeed, his heart is, and made the first tangible strides to ease tensions in the country.
Very well done, Michael. Here's to hoping your words and actions are the platform for brighter days in the U.S.