It’s been a LONG TIME COMING, but yes, Michael Jordan finally spoke out on the recent tensions between the police and the general African-American community. The sports world as a whole has saluted Jordan for his stance, as they rightfully should. However, Jordan cannot make up for the previous 34 years in which he chose to remain silent. Whether he was misinformed or just chose not to speak, Michael Jordan’s voice was surely missing.
A funny thing happens when celebrities speak up. PEOPLE LISTEN. Don’t ask me why, but it’s almost as if celebrity opinions mean more than anyone else’s. We tend to forget that they are regular human beings like the rest of us. None of us are responsible for Michael Jordan getting to where he is as a basketball player/owner, but we are responsible for his standing amongst society as a whole. He owes us his voice whether he realizes it or not. Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, & Alton Sterling to name a few, passed away and we heard nothing from MJ. By no means is Jordan the be all end all of our issues, but his voice is more profound than anyone else’s.
Growing up in the 90’s, Michael Jordan was everything to my peers and myself. We worshipped him like somewhat of a god in human form — emulating his every move, every tongue wag, shorts tug, you name it. All of this took a drastic turn as we became conscious of the world around us, particularly as young black men. Reading up on phenomenal champion BLACK athletes such as the late great Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to name a few, it troubled me to see the most celebrated athlete of modern times not really take a stand for anything significant.
It’s almost as if MJ didn’t care about us other than as consumers who religiously increased his bottom line.
Every week, when a new pair of Jordan’s came out, we were either camping out or waking up early to go and buy. We all know about the constant killings and muggings of young black kids over his overpriced sneakers. We’ve heard countless stories about how much of a prick he can be behind closed doors, yet, we continuously revere him as more than a basketball player. Michael Jordan is a man, not a god. Michael Jordan just has more money, and more resources than 90% of us. I’m sure Michael Jordan doesn’t set the price points for his sneakers, but he’s never spoken out against it either.
Personally, I took a stand in 2009 to refrain from purchasing Air Jordan products. I was a major “sneaker head” like many of my peers were and still are. Although I know that Jordan losing my precious dollars would ultimately mean very little, I’m proud to say that I’ve stuck to my guns. I salute guys like Craig Hodges, who as a teammate on Jordan’s first two championship teams, called out MJ for his utter neglect of the communities that were most gravely affected by his Airness. Hodges would ultimately be “blackballed” from the NBA, but his courage did not go unnoticed.
I for one, was a big supporter of Stephon Marbury’s Starbury line as I saw firsthand what kind of difference he made and continues to make in his community by offering kids in need an alternative to costly shoes and attire.
Many people laughed at Stephon’s sneakers. I went out and bought a pair.
Growing up, I saw how difficult it was for my mother (who worked 3 jobs) to satisfy my aesthetic needs. I remember the look on her face when she felt bad she couldn’t get me the newest pairs of Jordan’s that my friends had. As a man, I feel ashamed of even putting her through that guilt.
No NBA player or entertainer for that matter has an obligation to do anything to change the current climate of our society. Whatever they decide to do with their money is purely up to their own discretion. They cannot, however, ignore the fact that they have more influence on children than anyone else does. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul & Dwyane Wade utilizing the ESPY’s to speak out on our current events and plight holds more weight than even President Barack Obama can in any address he gives to the country. That is deep.
I believe there should be a moral obligation for any public figure to use their various platforms to unite and inspire, rather than to turn a blind eye and act as if there isn’t a problem at all. There may never be clear-cut solutions to our problems, but open up the means for honest dialogue can at least put us in that direction towards hope. Any loss of innocent life, whether police or civilian, is a stain on humanity. Period.
I commend Michael Jordan for FINALLY SPEAKING OUT after 34 years in the public light. He didn’t have to do it, I absolutely acknowledge that, but as a man directly linked to many of the issues facing this country, I can only imagine how much damage could’ve been avoided had Jordan chosen to speak up from the very beginning. Money can only do so much to address the issues. As a fan, I truly hope that Michael Jordan is sincere in his stance and continues to lead the charge firsthand. More than a decade removed from his last game, he is still the most iconic and popular athlete in the world. His voice equates to a million or more voices.
Like Kanye famously said, “No One Man Should Have All That Power.” Yet he does, and what he chooses to do with it will be magnified from here on out.