Tearing down your idols

A few days ago, the NBA great and entrepreneur Michael Jordan penned a piece on the sports site Undefeated, in which he denounced the killings of blacks by law enforcement. He said “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.” He followed this up with a donation of 1 million dollars to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Isn’t that nice of the G.O.A.T?

Well, not everyone was happy about this. In particular, sections of the black community either rolled their eyes or hurried to their social media outlets or blogs (Hi bloggers!) to bloviate on how Jordan either “isn’t doing enough” or “is too late” in regards to getting involved in race relations in America. Jordan has an interesting relationship with the Black America. He is one of, if not the greatest basketball player of all time, and was celebrated by white and blacks a like throughout his career in the NBA. Blacks have always loved Jordan because as a minority group, you like to see “one of yours’” do well. Everyone wanted to “be like Mike.” Jordan also became an extremely successful entrepreneur, largely due to his Jordan brand tennis shoes that are still enormously popular today, even though he’s been retired from basketball for 13 years. The shoes are particularly popular among young blacks. When limited editions are released, people will line up outside of stores in the wee hours of the morning to get hold of new pair a “Jay’s.” While most blacks continue to idolize Jordan for his success, black academics, activists, writers, and people who feel they represent “the black community” do not really appreciate ol’ M.J. Michael Jordan has never been a vocal person, especially in regards to racial controversy, issues, or politics. This has rubbed many blacks the wrong way. They feel that an African-American with major influence and money should be vocal and use their status as a way to create change in society (in particular the change liberal blacks want to see, not Jordan himself). There have even been attempts to smear Jordan by attributing fake quotes to him and spreading them via social media.


This meme has been floating around social media for years, but if anyone spends more than 3 minutes with Google, they will find that Michael Jordan has never said such a thing. It’s a hoax, but many people think it is true (my aunt shared it on Facebook a few months back, saying “Y’all better stop supporting that Uncle Tom!”)

In a recent piece in The Root, writer Stephen A. Crockett Jr. expressed his dismay with Jordan in a post titled “Michael Jordan: A Day Late and a Million Dollars Short”

It’s with great thought and all due respect that I say, “F–k Michael Jordan.” The cause doesn’t need his money, or his statement or his sympathy now; we needed it then, back when his name held weight. Back when he was the largest athlete on the planet. Back in 1990, when African-American U.S. Senate candidate Harvey Gantt was trying to wrestle North Carolina away from the racist control of Sen. Jesse Helms. That’s right, the same Jesse Helms who didn’t want to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. Jordan was asked to endorse Gantt, a request to which he famously replied, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

For clarity, the “Republicans buy sneakers too” line has become a meme of it’s own. The line first appeared in Sam Smith’s book “Second Coming”, in it, Smith mentions Ganatt’s hope to get a Jordan endorsement for his Senate race. Smith wrote of Jordan, “He wasn’t into politics, he explained, didn’t really know the issues. And, as he later told a friend, “Republicans buy shoes, too.” This line has been reprinted so many times and attributed to Jordan in multiple settings. It has grown a life of it’s own. Many blacks feel that line is indicative of being a sellout. A man putting profit over fighting for black community.

I call it smart.

If Jordan has no interest in politics, no real understanding of issues as he said then, why would he endorse some hack politician? Because some other black elitist said so? If Jordan’s interest was in growing his brand and business then good for him! From what I’ve read Jordan has donated to the Obama campaign in the past. Is that not enough for Stephen? Do we ask the CEO of McDonald’s his political affiliation? What’s Ralph Lauren’s stance on Common Core?

Why should I care?!

Stephen continues with his blabbering:

If Jordan really wants to use his voice and cachet to stop violence, how about he talk with Nike and demand that it stop making shoes that carry his name and likeness so expensive and unattainable that kids are being killed for them? How about he call Dazie Williams and tell her he’s sorry that her 22-year-old son, Joshua Woods, was killed after he purchased a pair of his shoes? That’s one area where his voice could actually be effective.

So, now it’s Jordan’s fault that his shoes are so in demand (which is what makes them expensive), and somehow causes a criminal to want to murder to attain them? Jordan has to apologize for this? Shouldn’t Stephen be shaming the murderer? Shouldn’t we be denouncing theft and murder instead of pointing anger towards the guy producing shoes? If I was killed after being robbed for my Chevy Tahoe, should the CEO of GM apologize for selling me such a nice car? These people lack sense.

I don’t know Michael Jordan. For all I know he could be a piece of shit. I honestly don’t care. I do know I enjoyed watching him play basketball throughout his career which inspired countless numbers of young black children to believe they can follow their dreams of playing pro-sports. I never owned his shoes, they were too expensive and my parents were too frugal (incidentally I ended up frugal also), but if someone wants to spend their hard earned money his shoe, or any fashion, that is up to them.

What is it with black people and tearing down their idols? As if every black person with a hint of influence has to use it to support “the cause” as Stephen A. Crockett Jr. wrote. What is the “cause” anyway? Is it police brutality? Black lives matter? What are we  mad about today? Is my cause the same as yours?



Source: The Afro Libertarian

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