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Michael Jordan

Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila, Creative Commons

Black Lives only matter to Jordan and Dre when there’s profit involved.

I would like to feel more empathy at the gut level when I hear stories about super-rich, upper-class celebrities — say, Andre Young, a.k.a. Dr. Dre, for example — who are harassed and stopped and followed and frisked because they’re Black.

I don’t.

Dr. Dre

Image Credit: BooDi, Creative Commons license.

I would like to feel inspired and hopeful when I read a story about a Black superstar athlete long past his prime years who finally found the — I guess courage is the word — to use his huge platform to help root out and destroy the triple cancers of systemic racism, anti-Blackness and police brutality from the face of the Earth. I’m referring, of course, to Michael Jordan, who spent his entire tenure as a reigning NBA player strategically avoiding activist-related controversies and keeping silent as Black boys blew each other’s brains out over his shoes.

Now, at 53, he’s “breaking his silence” and throwing petty cash at one pro-Black and one pro-police organization. The latter move is especially troublesome, suggesting that somehow police agencies carry out their racial bias agendas and snipe down Black bodies because they lack the funds to do otherwise. What he was smoking when he conjured that harebrained idea out of his head is beyond me. I don’t know if he tuned in to Hillary Clinton’s speech at the NAACP’s annual convention last week, where she low-key snuck in something about Blue Lives Matter and the need to “invest” in American police. Either way, I’m calling bullshit.

Related: Hillary Clinton Basically Said #BlueLivesMatter During Her Speech At NAACP Convention

I don’t feel great empathy for these folks. I don’t feel inspired them. They don’t give me hope. Let me give you two good reasons why.

Dr. Dre, who was recently in the news after a white motorist followed him to his Malibu home over a traffic misdemeanor and accused him of threatening his life with a gun, made a pretty penny — 3 billion dollars to be exact — off his Beats deal with Apple, Inc. Now, ask me what he did with it? Well, he partnered with record producer Jimmy Irvine to donate $70 million dollars to PWI University of Southern California. He never bothered to donate one cent of his generous gift to a historically black college. As far as I know, it was never on his radar.

But when he’s harassed by a white civilian, questioned and issued a citation by the state, he suddenly morphs into a black victim and the black community is expected to come to his rescue. Why? Because Black Celebrities Matter?

As Dillard University president Walter M. Kimbrough wrote:

What if Dre had given $35 million — his half of the USC gift and about 10% of his wealth, according to a Forbes estimate — to an institution that enrolls the very people who supported his career from the beginning? An institution where the majority of students are low-income? A place where $35 million would represent a truly transformational gift?

Not to mention he didn’t have the decency to use his abusive past with Dee Barnes in the film “Straight Outta Compton” to address the issue of domestic violence against Black women.

Related: Before You See Straight Outta Compton, You Really Need to Read This

The same applies to Michael Jordan who, as I mentioned earlier, profits considerably off the black community, who ritually buy and kill one another over his expensive ass Air Jordans.

One estimate from Nov. 2015 puts the number of deaths associated with the sneakers at 1,200. Jordan, who cares ever so much about black death, has been mute. He was mute then and he’s mute now.

This is something Stephen Marbury takes great issue with. Jordan has never called Nike with a hardline ultimatum stipulating that they lower the price of his famous shoes or cancel them altogether. He has, on the other hand, overlooked racist politics to make sure the profit party continues — as when he refused to endorse Harvey Gnatt over racist Jessie Helms because “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

Ain’t that ’bout a *bleep*!

But all of sudden he has the urge to put his voice in the fray. GTFOH with that!

Nah, y’all. I don’t care about the woes of a former rap rebel or the conscience of a bygone NBA king in the name of Black Celebrities Matter. Black Lives have only ever mattered to these dudes when it’s helping them keep their black cards.


Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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