Michael Jordan and his uber-successful Jordan Brand have pledged to donate $100 million over the next 10 years to organizations designed to ensure racial equality, to end police brutality, and the institutional racism that has negatively impacted African-Americans and people of color in the United States.
Here is the tweet from Jordan Brand:
The issue of police brutality and racism toward African Americans is nothing new, but it has recently been thrust to the forefront by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The Floyd murder, which was committed by now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, while three other officers stood by and did nothing to stop it, set off a rash of protests and civil unrest.
Jordan Brand isn’t the first, and more than likely not the last, major organization to step up and commit to something designed to institute change in the United States in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The responses from major organizations have come from all areas of business and entertainment. EA Sports was set to reveal Madden 21 on Monday, but in light of everything happening in the country, the decision was made to postpone the unveiling. Likewise, the publisher elected to push back its annual EA Play event in observance of the country’s climate.
Criticism of Jordan for Lack of Participation in Social Issues
Since his legendary playing career, Jordan has been criticized for his lack of involvement in social issues. During the first airing of the Last Dance documentary, Jordan’s infamous comments, “Republicans buy sneakers too,” which was supposedly uttered as a way to deflect his responsibility to speak against conservative politicians in his home state of North Carolina were brought back to light.
In stark contrast, the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James has long been a champion of civil rights, and he has never hesitated to speak out against social injustice. Because Jordan and James have often been compared, Jordan’s unwillingness to make his substantial voice heard has done some damage to his reputation. However, Friday’s generous contribution to a very important initiative flies in the face of concepts that suggest Jordan is out of touch.
Others may still argue Jordan’s actions were an example of copycat charity that the Hall-of-Famer only offered because it is the en vogue thing to do with so many other major businesses offering financial assistance and supportive words.
Even if that is the case, Jordan’s gesture is still to be celebrated and appreciated. It’s impossible to expect everyone to be on the exact same page about all subjects. However, Jordan and contributions from others in his tax bracket are proof that black lives matter–even if the point had to first be driven home economically before it could be tackled socially.
On the basketball court, Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets were one of eight NBA teams that will not be completing the remainder of their 2019-20 season. On Friday, the NBA voted to resume their season next month with just 22 teams in a group play setup before beginning the postseason.