Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Jordan airs feelings

While in the midst of his Hall of Fame NBA career, Michael Jordan pretty much avoided any political or social commentary. As perhaps the most high profile pitchman for Nike shoes during his playing days, Jordan wouldn't speak on behalf of Democrat politicians since, in his mind, Republicans buy Nikes, too. He was also pressured during his playing days to condemn the brutal conditions endured by workers employed in the Indonesian sweat shops which manufactured those very shoes. The idea being that a mere threat by Jordan to withhold his endorsement services would result in Nike taking corrective action.

Even though he's been away from the game for more than a decade, Jordan can still command an audience even if he rarely sways into controversial topics. However, he recently decided to convey his feelings regarding the recent incidents of police officer shootings.

"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.”

Many felt that Jordan put forth a kind and gracious gesture, one that called for unity in a time of discord. Inevitably, there will be some who question these donations, particularly if they don't go to their favorite pet causes.

Enter lefty sportswriter Kevin Blackistone.

But you don't have to be anti-police to understand what the situation is. I'm hard-pressed to find out how you can be emotionally moved by the extra judicial killings of black men in this country and then cut a check for $1 million to the police. The police aren't in need of funding when it comes to this situation. I mean, you're talking about a city like the city of Baltimore, which is paid out over $12 million in settlements for police brutality lawsuits between 2010 and 2014. If they had policed their communities a lot better and treated black people a lot more humanely, then they would have a lot more money to spend for their police department. And as far as giving money to the defense fund of the NAACP, which basically was borne out of Thurgood Marshall back in the 1940's, why not give the black lives matter a legal arm and fund and seed some funding to start that as a new civil rights movement for a new era and a new century?

Well first off, Jordan is not cutting a check to police. The IACP Institute for Community-Police Relations is a private organization who's mission is "to advance a universal culture of cohesion and trust between police and the communities they serve. To achieve this mission, the Institute will provide law enforcement agencies with the tools, resources, and guidance to help build community trust and engagement, foster transparency and accountability, and safeguard officer well-being, while reducing crime and increasing public safety."

And did Blackistone honestly suggest giving money to Black Lives Matter? Seriously?!?! BLM's main goal seems to be creating chaos and inconveniencing others' lives (e.g. by blocking freeways, shutting down events, etc.) as opposed to ginning up sympathy for what is a legitimate issue. Can you imagine the kind of "civil disobedience" BLM would engage in were they to be given significant funding? The whole idea behind any civil rights movement is the willingness to go to jail on behalf of a cause they believe to be just. Uh, injuring cops or suggesting that "pigs" be fried "like bacon" is a bit beyond the pale, no?

In the end, I applaud Jordan for taking the stance he did. He's certainly aware that he still holds A-list celebrity appeal, and thus may inspire others to make similar gestures.



Mr. D said...

Republicans buy sneakers, too.

Bike Bubba said...

Worth noting that the IACP is, if I remember correctly, a pretty staunch promoter of gun control. So not a perfect donation in my world. But that said, a nice move to try to promote peace in these regards by Jordan.