Michael Jordan: ‘I considered myself a racist’
May 7, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT
Michael Jordan, in Roland Lazenby’s, “Michael Jordan: The Life,” discussed his upbringing and his views on race as an elementary-school student. An excerpt (hat tip: Natalie Finn of E! Online):
Earlier that year, a girl at school called Michael a “nigger.”
“I threw a soda at her,” he recalled. “It was a very tough year. I was really rebelling. I considered myself a racist at that time. Basically, I was against all white people.”
I know where this is going: What’s the difference between Jordan and Donald Sterling?
For one, Jordan was a kid, someone with a narrow worldview due to lack of experience. Sterling’s hate comes despite a lifetime of opportunities to see the world differently.
Secondly, Jordan has changed. At that time, he was upset about the treatment his great grandfather – who had recently passed away – had received from whites throughout his life. Jordan’s anger was understandable, based on repeatedly seeing and hearing about whites establishing power over blacks and exercising it to do harm. Sterling came from a place of power, and he used it through housing discrimination and workplace harassment to keep minorities down.
In another excerpt from the book (full disclosure: I receive a free promotional copy), Jordan discussed the aftermath of that incident at school:
“The education came from my parents,” Jordan recalled. “You have to be able to say, OK, that happened back then. Now let’s take it from here and see what happens. it would be very easy to hate people for the rest of your life, and some people have done that. You’ve got to deal with what’s happening now and try to make things better.”
Jordan’s grade-school attitude wasn’t healthy. Jordan the adult knows that, and that’s what matters.
Nobody is perfect, but we should all try to learn and be better. Jordan did.