Michael Jordan Rallies the Black Vote

Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand, a subdivision of Nike, are together donating $2.5 million towards supporting the Black vote in the United States, according to an announcement made on July 29th.

The donation will be split among three groups: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. ($1 million), the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement ($1 million), and the Black Voters Matter organization ($500,000). These were chosen because Jordan is looking for a swift impact, for his money to directly benefit black voters in critically underrepresented cities and states before the 2020 Presidential election in November.

“We understand that one of the main ways we can change systemic racism is at the polls,” said Jordan in a statement spread by his Twitter.

“We know it will take time for us to create the change we want to see, but we are working quickly to take action for the Black Community’s voice to be heard.”

This $2.5 million is just the first wave of $100 million pledged by Jordan and the Jordan Brand in June to be donated over the next decade to build up defenses against systemic racism by supporting social, economic, and educational justice in underserved communities.

“The $100 million commitment was just the start,” said Jordan Brand president Craig Williams. “We are moving from commitment to action. Our initial partners can directly impact the social and political well-being of the Black community. We will have a disciplined focus on social justice, economic justice and education, as the most effective ways for us to eliminate the systemic racism that remains in society.”

Critics are lambasting Nike for backing Black Lives Matter-adjacent philosophies while ignoring the forced labor and racism in their own supply chain, not unfairly. But $100 million will go a long way, and perhaps will convince their own upper echelons that making the right choice will, in the long run, be more profitable.

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Nike Parts Ways With Livestrong

IMG: Matt Beckwith via Flickr

Nike on Tuesday announced a sad but unsurprising end to its partnership with Livestrong Foundation. The sportswear company has long supported the cancer research foundation, selling Livestrong gear, yellow wristbands, and of course supporting its star athlete and founder: Lance Armstrong.

But since Armstrong’s doping scandal hit the fan last year, the repercussions have been lining up around the block. After admitting systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs (which he had denied for years), the cyclist was disgraced—he lost all seven of his Tour de France titles, all of his sponsors, his reputation, and his place on the Livestrong board.

Armstrong founded the charity in 1997 after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He fought hard and won his battle against cancer, and created the foundation to help others do the same. Over the years, the partnership with Nike alone has raised over $100 million. But that’s all changed now.

“We expected changes like this,” said Livestrong spokesperson Katherine McLane. “Could there be fallout? Of course,” she said. “We remain enormously confident… We are in strong fiscal shape.”

Armstrong stepped down from the board in October 2012 and admitted to drug use in January. His parting of ways with the foundation was done as a way to reduce repercussions on the charity because of Armstrong’s association with it. It has likely saved the organization from some, but certainly not all, consequences of his disgrace.

Nike had previously removed its sponsorship of Armstrong in the midst of the doping scandal, but said it would continue to support the foundation. But now things seem to have changed, and Nike’s partnership will end at the end of the 2013 holiday season. Sad but likely is that they simply want to move past their long history of being associated with Lance Armstrong.