I don’t need the voice of a celebrity or other person of importance to speak out on social or political issues. In the same way that I’m not necessarily trying to hear what the masses have to say about the same topics anyway. Not because their opinion might differ from mine, but because of the lack of nuance or the style of approach used to address these issues. I say that because of the pressure that’s been put on athletes/celebs to make a stand against the racism and the acts of violence that have occurred in the U.S and earlier this week, Michael Jordan finally joined the fray.
But did he though? From the reactions that I saw through my limited window, it seemed as if people were more excited that he actually said something rather than what he had to say. This statement tried so hard not to offend anyone, so it almost wasn’t worth the stress of him dictating it to the office assistant who had to type it out or however that works for a billionaire. There was nothing particularly profound in it. I didn’t need him to tell me that killing people was wrong or sad. And in his desire to tiptoe through the landmine, his statement missed the point as to why African-Americans were frustrated in the first place.
The statement seemed to miss the point, by framing the conflict going on in the nation as one of racial tension as opposed to one of racism. I say that because racial tension doesn’t explain why black people are killed unjustly by police officers and the majority doesn’t care because it doesn’t affect their lifestyle. No one cares about who killed them. No one cares about holding anyone accountable. And minorities know that even if the accused killers are held accountable, they’re not judged by the same standards as the rest of the population.
On the other hand though, the money that Jordan gave should help benefit African Americans. Jordan donated $1 million each to two organizations; The Institute for Community-Police Relations is one that focuses on community based policing which would be reforming the way that police work is actually done. And of course there’s the NAACP. So in short, Mike wrote a donation letter that was utterly meaningless. I just wish we would ask ourselves why we need celebrities or athletes to speak out on issues like this, and also, how would we feel if their viewpoints didn’t align with ours?