A few days ago Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, came out with a statement saying that “he could no longer stay silent” with the turmoil going on between black people and the police. Saying that he knows the trauma of losing a family member violently, he donated $1 million to both the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Michael Jordan
Francis Bongo via Compfight

Jordan had always taken a lot of heat by big named sports stars because he seemed more interested in making money and protecting his image than in using his power and authority to try to make changes by speaking out against injustice and other issues as it pertains to black people. As one of the biggest names in sports history, it’s thought that he could have made a bigger difference in the world.

I’ve always had a slightly different opinion on this topic. Whereas I would have loved to see Jordan take that particular step, I’ve never thought that anyone had to step out of their comfort zone to do anything that didn’t fit their personality or wasn’t part of their goals. Being black doesn’t necessarily mean someone has to step into the role of a black leader just because they suddenly have a certain amount of authority or popularity; it’s a nice thought but it’s not necessary for everyone to do.

Back in 2002, I had the opportunity to read an article in the local Syracuse newspaper about a diversity seminar that was taking place in the Rochester area. I took a chance and contacted the reporter on the story, who gave me some information on who I could contact to get more information on the event. She asked me if she could call me every once in a while to ask questions regarding events that occurred in the black neighborhoods of the Syracuse area, and I told her that I’d never lived in the city and didn’t think I was the appropriate person to talk about black neighborhoods and the experience of black people who lived there.

Of course I was pretty much a nobody at the time; still am to a degree. I’m certainly no Michael Jordan. 🙂

Turns out Michael Jordan isn’t the guy many people thought he was. He’s given money to politicians he felt could help the cause of black people. His team, the Charlotte Hornets, has the highest percentage of people of color working for the organization in leadership positions than any professional sports team in the country. He also came out publicly against the transgender bathroom bill in North Carolina, which has led to the 2017 NBA All Star being moved to a different city.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post titled If You Don’t Stand For Something… where I asked the question of whether people who didn’t stand for something were scared to do so because of other people’s perceptions or fear of consequences. I wanted to know what it would take for them to decide to say something about the perceived injustice, or whatever it was that upset them.

No one is compelled to act on anything that upsets them, especially if it’s a controversial subject, but one would hope that if it involves them that they would. If the only thing to stand up for is your own protection, then that may be the best you can do. Everyone’s not going to take a step forward like Carmelo Anthony, and that’s fine with me.

Still… I’m going to ask the same question I asked two years ago to see if I can get some folks to respond to this one question: is there anything that happens outside of your life that compels you to give a public opinion on? Once again, I don’t need to know what it is, just if you’d do it. How safe is that? 🙂
 

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