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Michael Jordan Breaks Silence on Police Brutality

You don’t have to be a sports fan to know Michael Jordan is one of the most celebrated athletes walking this Earth. Even though he is constantly praised for his talents on the court, many pull no punches when criticizing him for his work off-the-court as it pertains to philanthropy and speaking out on social issues.

Well, we seem to be living in a new day because Jordan released a statement today speaking about the recent police killings and his $2 million donation to groups working to gain trust between the police and their communities.

In an exclusive letter for ESPN’s The Undefeated, Jordan writes, “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.”

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The letter also announced Jordan’s $1 million donation to two organizations such as the Institute for Community-Police Relations, that was started in May by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, that was established in 1940 to push the legal system for civil rights.

Jordan wrote of his donations saying, “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.”

On Sunday night, both groups were made aware of the donations and were stunned.

Said Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director of the Legal Defense Fund, “We’re surprised and shocked, but obviously thrilled. We’ve been working on these issues for some many years, and it’s great to hear that Michael Jordan and his people are aware of our work and are willing to make a contribution.”

Terrence Cunningham, the IACP president and chief of the Wellesley, Massachusetts, police department, said, “What an opportunity for Michael Jordan to do this and help raise the discussion between police and the members of the communities they serve. The IACP aims to provide a toolbox for departments and communities to come together to discuss implicit bias and police legitimacy, and this is an opportunity to help that along.”

The recent police killings and social media bringing these events to us in such a way where they can no longer be ignored seems to be moving us back to a time where athletes used their platforms and resources to make social change.

Earlier this month, NBA players Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James opened the ESPY Awards with a statement about police brutality, racial profiling and gun violence and issued a call to action for their fellow athletes to play a bigger role in social justice.

In his letter, Jordan also wrote, “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.”

Even with this public statement and donation, the Jordan critics still aren’t satisfied and probably never will be. But it is nice to see one of the world’s most celebrated athletes bring attention to the social injustices which plague Black communities in this country.

Read Jordan’s entire letter in full here.

 

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Brittney Fennell

Brittney Fennell

Brittney is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and a writer who has goals to disrupt culture in ways unseen.