Michael Jordan urged the country to find ways to bridge what he sees as growing social and racial divides amid a recent spate of shootings of and by police officers, he said in a statement released Monday.
“I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late,” the former NBA superstar wrote in the statement published by The Undefeated, a platform that explores the intersections of race, sports and culture. “I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.”
Jordan announced he is donating grants of $1 million each to two organizations, to support their efforts to build trust between community members and law enforcement officers: the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
“Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive impact,” Jordan wrote.
Jordan’s statement comes amid calls across the U.S. for more effective reform after a series of fatal police shootings of black men prompted demonstrations throughout the country. He joins current NBA stars LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade in calling for an end to racial injustice, gun violence and police brutality.
“The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities,” Jordan wrote.