After Decades of Silence on Race, Michael Jordan Calls for an End to ‘Divisive Rhetoric and Racial Tensions’

By Yessenia Funes Jul 25, 2016

Michael Jordan has finally spoken about racism. In an exclusive letter published today (July 25) by 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.

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.

The 53-year-old former basketball player—aka the “greatest basketball player in NBA history”—also donated $1 million each to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to support "peaceful dialogue and education" that will lead to "constructive change." The Institute for Community-Police Relations is a new initiative from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization. "Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problems," writes Jordan, "I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference."

In the past Jordan was notorious for being apolitical. In 1990, when he declined to support a Black Democrat running for a North Carolina Senate seat, he was famously quoted as saying, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

Read the letter in its entirety here.