Michael Jordan & The Epidemic of Revisionist History

Why are we so mad at MJ?

I’m a perfectionist when writing. I don’t think the feeling of wanting to write something perfect was born from a feeling to be perfect, it born out of a hate for criticism & critique. Often when I write, I revise several times. However, other times the feelings, emotions and thoughts just flow and I look at what I’ve written and say: this is perfect, who needs a revision. The great thing about revisions is that they require perspective and a sound thought process to filter the information. If those two things are not possessed, you can slip into a role that many are familiar with: revisionist history. Revisionist history is when we write to shape the narrative into a piece that fits our argument, we disregard the actual elements of the time period and make that moment in history fit our argument. The latest victim of this: Michael Jordan.

Many people have read, retweeted, shared, Facebook’d, Instagram’d, and YouTube’d about; Michael Jordan has final broken his silence on police violence. In a short but precise statement, Michael donated money to two organizations he BELIEVES will improve conditions between police and the black community. While also denouncing the killing of black people at the hands of police and violence against police. Michael also acknwoledged that his relationship with police in his years on this earth have also been different than the people reading his message. I read the message and had the same sentiment as Carmelo Anthony, saying Michael gets it, he has put forth effort and put his money where his mouth is; where there are countless others still remain silent. This comes after Michael just donating a $9 million dollar lawsuit settlement to 23 Chicago non profits including: After School Matters, Casa Central and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. As a Jordan fan I was proud, as a black man I thought that a man who has been as insulated from police mishaps as Michael Jordan sees what is going on, lets us know how traumatic these recent incidents truly are.

Despite Michael’s good intentions, people are still furious with him. He didn’t speak out soon enough, he didn’t give money to Black Lives Matter and other crtiticsms people couldn’t wait to make. This was used as an opportunity to criticize the cost of his shoes, to blame him for violence over his shoes and other ill-timed attacks. An article by Stephen A. Crockett Jr. of The Root, titled: Michael Jordan: A Day Late and a Million Dollars Short, has gotten over 33,000 likes on Facebook. In this article Crockett ignited an age old argument about Jordan where people ask where he stood on key issues in 1990, 1991 and during the Bulls White House visit. Crockett seemed to have wanted Michael Jordan to transform into Craig Hodges overnight. Hodges was one of the most “woke” players the NBA ever had, who was essentially blackballed from the league. Using revisionist history to his full advantage Crockett suggests that if Michael would have endorsed the democratic candidate from North Carolina in 1990 and spoke out against Rodney King’s police brutality in 1991 that the course of history would have changed. I didn’t know if Crocket truly believes this or is using this to his advantage to build his “F-ck Michael Jordan” rhetoric.

In many facets of our critique of Jordan we are being irresponsible. We are not giving him an inch in our crituque of his life as a black man and his experiences. For us to critique Michael Jordan as if he didn’t need to have talks with his three black children about how to deal with police is incomprehensible. Children that went to the same high school as I did where police officers beat up one of my friends in the hall senior year. In a neighborhood that is a hop, skip and a jump from Chicago’s west side, how fair are we being? Do you think playing in Utah & Boston were a walk in the park for Michael Jordan? We treat Michael Jordan as if he is completely avoided the black experience because of the money and fame he has achieved. Even Micahel Jordan can get banned from the La Gorce Country Club for violating dress code, the same way we can’t get into a Chicago night club with his shoes on. We’ve made it a point not to give Michael an inch.

How hypocritical are we when we talk about Michael Jordan? Since the recent police killings have become a hot topic, we have spoke about creating an economic community as black people, depending on black people and buying from black people. If we can talk about that so openly and so passionately about black ownership, how can we discredit MJ when he is the first former player to become the majority owner of an NBA team (increasing ownership to 89.5%)? Maybe MJ’s goal was to inspire the other player’s like him to push for ownership, maybe he wanted to push player’s to get what they deserved after being severely underpaid during much of his NBA career. Does the fight for black economics or wealth does not count because he didn’t speak about it or wear a dashiki while doing it?

One of the things we have to honest about as black people, is that we are fighting a temendous battle as a race to gain ground. But there isn’t one side to this fight. We need the Jordan’s who are fighting in boardroom and on the billboards as well as the people who are on the front lines speaking out. Rarely do those two world’s meet. When they do, you get some of the greatest men who have ever lived: Muhammad Ali, Harry Belafonte & Jim Brown. To hold Michael Jordan and any other person making a contribution to that hero-like standard is unfair, because some our heroes have yet to even speak up at all.

P.S. If you would like to read more about Michael’s contributions, choose some of the hyperlinks in the article above. Also, this article from Athletize details more about his chartitable contributions including and education program that donates $1 million dollars a year to teachers.