Legendary basketball player Michael Jordan has spoken about the shootings of black men and the ongoing police violence against the black community.
In a statement published by The Undefeated, Jordan, who has taken a lot of criticism over the years for his silence surrounding issues that pertain to the black community, said that he’s “deeply troubled” by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement. He mentioned the death of his own father, who was killed in an act of violence, as particularly shaping his views.
“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,” he wrote. “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
He said he’s upset but the divisiveness that has shaken the country as of late.
“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,” he said in the statement. “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.”
Jordan said that although he’s had positive interactions with law enforcement, he can’t ignore that many people of color have had different experiences.
“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family,” he said. “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.”
And, Jordan said he’s putting his money where his mouth is by donating $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,” Jordan explains. “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.”
Jordan closed his statement by insisting that America is still the greatest country in the world, but he knows the ongoing racial tension won’t be solved overnight.
“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities,” he said. “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.”