Michael Jordan believes that education is the key to putting a dent in racism and lowering the barriers for those trying to better their financial standing.
On Friday, June 6, Jordan and Jordan Brand, owned by Nike, have pledged to give $100 million over the next 10 years to organizations that help fight racial inequality. He talked about the pledge in an interview with the Charlotte Observer, expressing that racism has been accepted as a normal way of life in the U.S.
This makes for the largest corporate donation in response to the death of George Floyd, Forbes reports. Jordan and the Jordan Brand — which makes the Air Jordan shoe created for Jordan — reportedly each will provide $50 million.
During the interview, Jordan referred to nationwide protests that have followed Floyd’s death as the final straw for Black people because most in their lifetimes have experienced mistreatment because of race.
Floyd died on May 25 after now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“We have been beaten down for so many years. It sucks your soul,” said Jordan about Black people. “You can’t accept it anymore. This is a tipping point. We need to make a stand. We’ve got to be better as a society regarding race.”
Jordan said that he and Jordan brand haven’t worked out which organizations will get the $100 million, and the pledge isn’t about just throwing money toward a cause. It’s a call to action for everyone to do some self-examination, so they can rid themselves of whatever prejudices they hold.
Additionally, Jordan revealed the organizations that have access to quality education will get some of the funds. He then gave suggestions on how people can help combat their racist feelings.
“Face up to your demons,” he suggested. “Extend a hand. Understand the inequalities. Sure, it’s about bargaining for better policing, but it’s more. We have encountered racism to be somewhat acceptable in certain circles.”
He continued, “Just because someone grew up in a slum doesn’t mean you should look at them as not being equal — so they, themselves, start seeing themselves as not equal. “You should not feel you’re better than others because you grew up with more advantages.”
Jordan has often been accused of remaining silent on issues that affect Black people. But he’s also been praised for donating large sums of money to people in need, like the $1 million he pledged toward relief efforts in the Bahamas last year when Hurricane Dorian struck.
In 2019, he also gave $7.2 million to build two health clinics in Charlotte, North Carolina under the name The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinic.
“If I’m giving $100 million, along with Jordan Brand, then we’re going to make this go in a way that makes a difference, and this — attacking ingrained racism, supporting educational opportunity — is a very necessary step in society,” Jordan explained “This isn’t just about donations, writing checks. But those hospital (clinics) make a difference. I’m challenging people to effect change however they can.”