As someone raised in the Chicago area, Michael Jordan is on his own level of the iconosphere. He is beyond the words hero and role model. He is the unquestioned, undisputed Greatest Of All Time at his profession. To have been privileged enough to see a part of his career are memories I can’t forget even if I want to.
Another thing I can’t forget about Jordan even if I want to (besides Space Jam) is the fact that he never took a stand on any social issue during his playing career. Race, religion, economic inequality, gender pay gap, abortion, immigration. You name it, MJ was neutral or silent about it.
To take a stand on a social or political issue means you upset and/or alienate potential customers. In addition to being the greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan is also the greatest product spokesman of all time. His list of endorsements is lengthy and legendary. Jordan didn’t just make money with his endorsements, he made companies and changed culture with his endorsements.
That is why fellow NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said Jordan chose “commerce over conscious” with his silence on any and all social issues during Air Jordan’s run of greatness in the 1980s and 90s.
Better late than never is a term served well in this case. There has been a lot of inequality and death in the African-American community since Jordans playing career. 2016 seems destined to go down as either a tipping point or a boiling point of race relations in America. Jordan breaking his silence with words and cold hard cash to raise both awareness and tangible prospects for progress are as welcome as they are overdue.
Michael Jordan has a net worth of $1.14 billion. Out of that billion, he has donated $2 million, split evenly between the NAACP and a community policing organization. A token gesture is better than no gesture. When it comes to race relations between African-American communities and the police, it’s all hands on deck and help will be taken anywhere it can be received.
Rapper and former Bernie Sanders campaign representative Killer Mike recently challenged Jordan to do something beyond a token gesture.
Dear MJ #23, on the behalf of black people and cops (I have loved ones who are both) thanks for the million dollars to the NAACP & Police Orgs. Now we wud like to Challenge you to send the profits of this Olympic Jordan Drop Into a Black Financial Institution. We know that with your example other Players will follow. I'm sure Jim Brown, Kareem & Bill Russell will agree. Love ya man. U truly were/are the greatest. *********************************** Black People and Allies of black people instead of buying this or any shoe. (1) Start an account with a black bank or credit union. (2) Save 400 bucks and get a secured credit card (#citzenstrustbank has a good one). (3). Charge these or any shoe, pay your bill on time building your credit. This way u r fresh as u wanna be, saving your actual cash and building your credit score. That way these shoes are a tool for your empowerment and not something that chains you into poverty. ************************************* I hope MJ and Us, Do The Right Thing!
How can $2 million be a token gesture? How can the most famous athlete in the world breaking three decades of silence and neutrality be a token gesture?
Are there not already African-American athletes donating money? Have prominent celebrities not already spoken out to draw attention and press to this issue? Is it not clear that there exists a very big problem with race relations in America?
$2 million or .2% of Jordan’s net worth is a good start, but is only a good start. If it is not the beginning of a plan or process than it is like shooting a heat seeking missile into the sun. It is a month later and this story is all but forgotten. Which is fine, the story can be lost in the shuffle, but Jordan’s tangible impact shouldn’t be. Diverting income from his already flushed coffers into black financial institutions for the long haul is how Jordan shows his actions are meant for serious impact rather than news cycle fodder.