Service to others is the rent we pay for living. –Marian Wright Edelman
Nike’s Air Jordan XI’s debut sparked a herd of hellions to stampede to the nearest mall to empty their wallets for an exorbitantly-priced shoe that will be outdated in a few months. Explosions of ugliness ensued in at least five different spots across the country in the form of riots, fights, shots fired, pepper spray and child abandonment — a revolting showcase of ignorance at its mind-boggling worst. People who clamor and fight to buy shoes they can’t afford, which is endorsed by a man whom has never shown interest in his own community, is the apex of stupidity, insanity and, yes, depravity.
Michael Jordan bares a lot of responsibility for these obscene snapshots of imbecility and retarded priorities. Urban children have been killing one another over Jordan attire and memorabilia since the 1980s. Yet, he has not uttered a single syllable to condemn the behavior or offer condolences. He most certainly has never lobbied to make his shoe prices more in line with the demographic that inordinately patronize his products. He just shoves his bloodied hands in his tailored suits, where those collected bundles of Benjamins are, and keeps it pushing towards his next exploitative deal and opportunistic endeavor. Expecting him to voice a word of reason or articulate anything that resembles reason and caring, is like expecting to see water flowing uphill or see a thunderstorm indoors.
Isiah Thomas has put together a black think tank where they are developing stratagem to obliterate the deplorable conditions that afflict African Americans. Magic Johnson made a resolute pledge to build businesses in the black community and employ urbanites and he followed through with it. Michael Jordan will not muddy his hands trying to clean up anything except the dirty money he makes from exploitation here in the U.S. and abroad.
“It’s not in his DNA,” former NBA nemesis Isiah Thomas tried explain to me about Jordan at the American Black Film Festival in South Beach this past summer when I pointed out Jordan’s total disinterest in the very community from which he has amassed millions from in shoe sales. And, actually, Thomas was trying to defend the infamously apolitical Jordan.
Jordan is projected to make a profit of $1 billion, by some media estimates. But not only has Jordan surgically removed himself culturally from any and all things black — he blatantly disrespected a nation of black men who assembled in a show of responsibility during the Million Man March in 1995 — he has never been made to answer for the slave sweat shops that manufacture his Nike shoes. Understand this, people; there is a great reason why the coveted shoes are not made in this country. Here, it is unlawful to work so hard for so little so that someone can live a Bentley lifestyle.
Jordan is a ruthless and bloodless opportunist, don’t you forget. He was a “great” friend to O.J. Simpson until ‘The Juice’ got hemmed up in the trial of the century for killing his wife and jump-off lover, and Jordan predictably went scampering to hide in the nearest crack in the wall with roach-like efficiency. Something similar went down after he and Charles Barkley helped “mentor” Tiger Woods into wholesale whoredom and then he, again, got ghost when the lights shined brightly on the Tiger compound on that fateful Thanksgiving evening. In addition to his apathy and callousness towards others in lower tax brackets, Jordan is a friend of convenience, a fairweather friend as Johnny Gill crooned about in the 90s.
Some would say that he doesn’t owe anyone anything. That’s their opinion, and a faulty one at that. Jordan didn’t get where he is by himself. He got to where he is due to his almost preternatural individual determination along with mentors, coaches, loving friends and family, and he subsequently became an intercontinental icon. That means he owes it to the world to plant some seeds of prosperity in the same place where his legend sprouted. And that’s where he has failed miserably.
Sitting idly on the islands of glamor off the money he receives for the sale of his overpriced shoe sales represents the summit of unconscientiousness. Jordan is Kim Kardashian in drag. A man who lusts after undeserved money and respect, and for people to genuflect at the alter of his legendary career, but who wants nothing to do with the very people whose broken backs he stepped on to hoist himself up to the social strata to where he watches from his enviable perch as the riots unfold for his shoes. Lest we forget, he fought against the very collective bargaining agreement he strong-armed the NBA into while he was a player. The man lost the ability to feel a long time ago, so the ceaseless violence over his apparel acquisition means nothing to him. “Just cut me a check,” his deafening silence tells us. If you get your skull cracked waiting in line for Jordan’s shoes, he will avert his eyes and focus his vision on his mushrooming bank account.
There are five positive things that Jordan could be using some of his extraordinary wealth for. —terry shropshire