Back in the day ...

For some reason, the killing of Philando Castile at the hands of the police in Minnesota and the massacre of police in Dallas, one day apart, seem to be motivating otherwise silent people to step up and say something about the problem of police violence and institutional racism that leads to black folks being generally mistreated by cops and far too often killed by their hand. We've seen white conservatives from very wingnutty websites typing things like "Hey, you know, there is actually a really big problem here, and we're not talking about how black people are scary and mean to cops." We've seen black Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina speaking up on the Senate floor, about his own experiences with police as a black man.

[wonkbar]<a href=""></a>[/wonkbar]If you are not familiar with sports involving balls and baskets, you might not know that Michael Jordan is a VIP, which stands for "very important person," if you are not familiar with common abbreviations. And now, Jordan has decided to use his mouth, and his money, to make a difference on this issue:

[M]ichael Jordan, widely considered the greatest basketball player in NBA history and the lone African-American majority owner of a franchise, has decided to speak out on the country’s growing racial and social unrest.

“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,” Jordan writes in a one-page letter released exclusively to The Undefeated. “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”

He used the letter to also announce grants of $1 million each to two organizations working to build trust between law enforcement and the communities in which they work: the Institute for Community-Police Relations, which was launched in May by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which was established in 1940 to work through the legal system to push for civil rights. It became a separate organization from the NAACP in 1957.

Jordan's full statement is here, and it is very good.

We are not necessarily conflating Jordan with black Republican Tim Scott, or with those white wingnuts who are, for once, speaking out. Jordan doesn't seem to be a Republican -- he's been donating to Barry Bamz Obama since he ran for the Senate -- but he's pissed people off before, for failing to take strong political stands where other influential black athletes and celebrities have.

[wonkbar]<a href=""></a>[/wonkbar]What we are saying is that sometimes garden variety white folks aren't inclined to listen, acknowledge or learn about problems, especially those involving racism, until certain voices speak up. Maybe it's the wingnut readers of the Daily Caller seeing one of their own stepping up to the plate. Maybe it's Republican members of Congress listening to Sen. Scott -- one of their own. And maybe with somebody like Michael Jordan speaking up, some white people might say, "Oh, hmmmm. I like Michael Jordan. He is not an urban terrorist like that dang Beyoncé! Maybe I should listen to what he has to say!"

A similar thing happened in the conversation about HIV/AIDS when Magic Johnson -- another basketballer, if you don't know anything about anything -- announced he was HIV-positive back in 1991.

We're not saying it will be a magical thing that suddenly changes all the racist white people's minds. We're just saying things like these help move the goalposts toward justice.

That's all that we are Just Saying.

[The Undefeated]

Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

Follow him on Twitter RIGHT HERE.


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