Monday, December 6, 2010

Michael Jordan Colorless?

In my spare time as a second grader, I spent my time perfecting the drawing of the Chicago Bulls’ emblem. My favorite number was 23 and my favorite pastime was basketball. Like many others, Michael Jordan was my hero. Not only does he represent the pinnacle of the African-American athlete, but also the pinnacle of the African American citizen. He, moreover, represents just how far African Americans have come since they sat out on their journey for equality.

Jordan's role as an American and black cultural icon reaches far beyond simply his basketball prowess, primarily because of his remarkable business skills and careful image cultivation. He has become the image, not only of the greatest basketball player of all time, but of a family man, a black man, a businessman and ultimately a modern American hero that transcends cultural boundaries.” Operating off this, we see that Jordan is involved in many diverse areas of American life. Not only is he involved in a number of areas, but he excels in every department. He surpasses the barrier of color, and has become a role model among many different cultures in countries all over the world.

“Despite his representation of culture, however, still some have criticized him for foregoing his true black culture and forgetting his "blackness" in his cultivated image.” Some critics claim that Jordan and Nike have downplayed Jordan’s blackness throughout years of advertisements. I, however, disagree. I think because Jordan became famous after the Civil Rights Movement, he had the responsibility of representing America rather than his African-American heritage. Because Jordan became such a household hero and role model, he blurred the lines of color. Fans looked at Jordan as an icon for humanity, not merely for African Americans. It was not his color that brought him success; it was his character. At the same time, nevertheless, Jordan did represent how far African Americans had come in their quest for equality. Jordan has holds in nearly every part of the world, and is still looked upon as an iconic hero. I think that the power and prominence he has attained is a symbol of just how far African Americans have risen in the social, economic, and political spectrums of America and the world.

What are your thoughts on the concept of Jordan “surpassing his color?” Is it fair to say that Jordan is a representation of how far African American have come? I think this Michael Jordan quote has a lot of hold in the Civil Rights Movement: “I can accept failure. I cannot, however, accept not trying.”



  1. As a fellow fan of basketball, Jordan serves as hero for all of us. It is incredible to see someone with such dedication and commitment. It is even more gratifying that you included that quote. It seems like that quote in combination with the trials and tribulations and success that MJ can symbolize the path seen in the Civil Rights movement. Both dedication and perseverance were key in continuing the tough battle for MJ and the Civil Rights Movement.

  2. I agree that Michael Jordan is a monumental athlete and an icon admired by many, but to say that he is "surpassing his color" is considerably degrading. If the connotation of surpassing his color is to blend into a world where being black is detrimental to his success I would much rather be inclined to say that Michael Jordan celebrated his color as he inspired hope in individuals of all races to chase their dreams. He is a champion black basketball player and his cultural heritage should be celebrated in conjunction with his outstanding basketball performance to carry on the notions of the black power movement that "black is beautiful."

  3. I don't think Jordan should be criticized by people for "forgetting his blackness" for several reasons. I don't think it should make a difference in advertisements and commercials if he's black or not. I think he can represent an image and relate to several different groups of people-- regardless of color. He is viewed as a role model by children of all ethnicities across America. I also agree that Cameron's point that it was not his color that brought him success, but his skill. And Jordan has proven this point because he continues to be successful in other areas of his life.

  4. How can one player represent a race in the NBA? At this time, there were a huge number of African American's in the NBA and Jordan was not the ONLY good player, maybe the best, but not the only. He may have been a role model but not in the racial equality sense. I agree with what you say, his character and skills are what makes him a great person and a role model, not his color. Otherwise, we would be reverting backwards because of the mindset of people. While the late 80's, 90's and early 00's were and is still today racial driven, it was not the case as much in sports anymore. People just wanted to see their team win, regardless of who is playing. And Jordan was winning; therefore, he became popular. Besides, if he is a role model for African Americans, then so is Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shaq. But, they don't get mentioned much for that, if all. S

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I’m not sure if this was the case before Michael Jordan but I feel as though literally every boy in our generation, no matter the race, completely idolized the man. While I feel players such as Magic Johnson and Karl Malone had similar popularity, no one came near to the status of MJ. He had several movies made about him, his own separate line of basketball shoes, and became an international icon. I’m not sure if “surpassed his race” is the right phrase, but I get the point. I agree with you in that no little boy, white or black, ever thought about what race MJ was, they just knew they wanted to be like him when they grew up.