Michael Jordan, whose fame in sports is matched only for his reputation for avoiding politics, published an open letter in The Undefeated, addressing the atmosphere of mistrust clouding relations between minority communities and the police who serve them. Here are some excerpts from the letter, which was titled "I Can No Longer Stay Silent."
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.
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.
Jordan concluded by announcing that he would donate $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and to the Institute for Community-Police relations, which was recently set up by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Jordan's words are notable for a display of social consciousness some have criticized Jordan for withholding since his earliest days in a Bulls uniform. But just as including a photo of MJ crying seems to be a prerequisite to covering this story, so is a reference his famous apocryphal quote from when he allegedly refused to endorse the Democratic challenger in the 1990 race for North Carolina's Senate seat: "Republicans buy sneakers, too."
True to that image, Jordan's letter is nonpartisan. He offers sympathy and outrage both for the deaths of people of color at the hands of law enforcement and the deaths of law enforcement in the line of duty alike. Read his full message on The Undefeated.