Michael Jordan’s Shocking Confession On Being Racist: ‘I Was Against All White People’

Image via Flickr/ Arnold Gatilao

When you think of basketball legend Michael Jordan, racial discrimination isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. But in an excerpt from a new biography, Michael Jordan: The Life, by Ronald Lazenby, Jordan openly admits to a period in his life when he felt he was a racist. He remembers a time when he was suspended from school for aggressively reacting to a student calling him the N-word.

“So I threw a soda at her,” Jordan is quoted saying in the biography.

I was really rebelling. I considered myself a racist at the time. Basically, I was against all white people.”

Lazenby takes a deeper look into Jordan’s family history and the tumultuous cultural history of where he grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina — a place where the Ku Klux Klan and White Supremacy were well known and well accepted. The author told Sports Illustrated that what Jordan accomplished as an international icon and businessman was more than just extraordinary when you consider the suppression under which generations of his family lived.

“As I started looking at newspapers back in this era when I was putting together Dawson Jordan’s [Michael’s great-grandfather] life, the Klan was like a chamber of commerce,” Lazenby says.

It bought the uniforms for ball teams, it put Bibles in all the schools. It may well have ended up being a chamber of commerce if not for all the violence it was perpetrating, too. When Jordan comes into the NBA, very soon there are expectations of him to be this citizen, this spokesperson who can stand up and could’ve supported [former North Carolina Senate candidate] Harvey Gantt and done those things, but that wasn’t the cultural story of blacks on the Coastal Plain. They had no political power. None of Jordan’s people were ever registered to vote. Every gain that African-Americans made was economically based. This system of sharecropping was so rigged. I thought it was fascinating that Jordan’s mother’s father [Edward Peoples], out of all those people who were destroyed financially with sharecropping, here’s this guy who succeeded and came to own his own land. He was just driven economically.”