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Jasmine Jordan On Running The Jordan Brand Empire & Leaving A Legacy Of Her Own

As an executive of the Jordan Brand, the daughter of Michael Jordan is a star in her own right.

BOSS UP

"As soon as I get back to Chicago, I'm definitely getting some Lou Malnati's Pizza or something," Jasmine Jordan confesses.

Currently quarantining from her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Chi-town native speaks of better days when the coronavirus no longer confines us to our couches. She's not complaining though. The newly-engaged mom is appreciating the trips that were traded in for some much-needed family time. "I could go for a deep-dish pizza right now."

OK, so maybe she craves just a little bit of normalcy.

But normal looks a little different for the daughter of a basketball legend. And though her life may seem predestined, Jordan is determined to build a legacy that lives beyond that of her father's accomplishments. After all, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. She's a star in her own right.

DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL IS MORE THAN A PRINCESS.

Born and raised in the Windy City, she lived a life of both sunny skies and winter storms. Growing up in the lap of luxury afforded her a privileged life that she certainly doesn't deny, but her parents made sure that she was aware of life on the other side. Grandma's house on Wallace Street gave her a taste of the Southside talked about in headlines.

"[My mom] was like it's not about a scare tactic or anything like that, you just need to know how the world is around you," says Jordan, reminiscing on days of family visits where pops would play ball in the backyard with the neighborhood kids. "It felt like home. No matter what we did behind those gates, we knew we're still a part of this community. They made sure that we knew how life was around us so we never felt like we were in a bubble or sheltered, and never felt like we couldn't connect and relate to other people that look like us because of our economic backgrounds."

At Loyola Academy, a predominately white private school where wealth wasn't uncommon, Jordan was welcomed as the heiress to the throne. But she wanted to be known for something more than her pedigree. "My father is my father. He has his fame and he's built his empire and brand, but at the end of the day those are his accomplishments," she says. "Do I reap the benefits of it being his daughter? Absolutely. But I have no right to claim those things, and I never do because those are his accomplishments. I'm his daughter and I'm still going to make a name and do whatever I need to do so people can see me for me."

Courtesy of Jasmine Jordan

"My father is my father. He has his fame and he's built his empire and brand, but at the end of the day those are his accomplishments. Do I reap the benefits of it being his daughter? Absolutely. But I have no right to claim those things, and I never do because those are his accomplishments. I'm his daughter and I'm still going to make a name and do whatever I need to do so people can see me for me."

When she transitioned to public school during her junior year, however, titles and worldly treasures no longer held rank amongst her new group of friends. "They're not checking for my bank account. They're not checking for my last name. They're trying to see, all right, can you hang with us? You know, do you know how we go off? Do you know our background? And my thing is, I may not have grown up on the streets or anything like that, but I'm fully aware of it. I'm a well-rounded individual and that's critical."

Living in both worlds gave her the confidence to own her privilege and simultaneously embrace her people. While life at home was much different than the one at school, moving amongst her peers where she wasn't defined by who her parents were allowed her to become her own woman.

"We knew we were fortunate. We are blessed, but we aren't different. Once you remove those materials factors away then you realize that I'm just Jasmine. I'm just me."

SHE'S DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL BUT ALSO A GROWN A** WOMAN.

And as an executive of the Jordan Brand, the 27-year-old boss chick is helping to run an empire, working as the liaison between the Jordan Brand and its respective athletes. From ensuring the players get their footwear and apparel to ball in style to coordinating efforts for photoshoots and media appearances, Jordan often takes on the role of a mama bear protecting her young, many of which aren't too far off in age.

"Being their representative and making sure that they are representing the brand as well, I'm going to be super protective about them and make sure they're comfortable and make sure that they're being heard in different settings," she says. "I just want to make sure that my athletes and whoever I'm working with or having meetings with are comfortable in that setting as we get the job done, and whatever that entails. [I want to] make sure we execute at the highest level."

As a Black woman in a male-dominated industry, Jordan is fighting for her own voice just as much as those of her athletes.

And as the oldest, female sports representative for the Jordan Brand, all eyes are on her, and expectations are set high. Not to mention the fact that her father's a legend. That's pressure on another level of pressure. "I'm getting hit left and right with all these expectations, but I don't run from them. I embrace it because at the end of the day, if I can pave the way for more Black women to get into this industry, then I'm doing my job."

Courtesy of Jasmine Jordan

"I'm getting hit left and right with all these expectations, but I don't run from them. I embrace it because at the end of the day, if I can pave the way for more Black women to get into this industry, then I'm doing my job."

A 2014 graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in sports marketing, Jordan hit the ground running just three days after graduation working as the coordinator of Basketball Operations for the Charlotte Hornets, where she stayed for four seasons before moving on to the Jordan Brand. She credits the job for giving her the business etiquette required in her role today.

"A lot of my communications outside of the athletes were with the teams or colleges, so it was a lot of emails," she recounts. "It really took me out of my element. I'm a people person, I like to talk on the phone or see you and engage with you in person and knowing that I couldn't connect with the colleges or the reps from other NBA teams on a consistent basis outside of email was definitely hard. So, I definitely loved the fact that I had to really sit down at a computer for eight or nine hours out of the day and constantly engage that way and make sure that they still felt my personality or my words through the emails I was sending."

Despite what naysayers may think, her transition to the Jordan Brand, initially as a Field Representative, was no easy feat. "I'm not checking for people who think I have a handout or assume because it's my father's brand it should be easy for me. I had to go through the same process as everybody else. I had to do interviews, I had to submit resumes, so on and so forth. My work ethic is definitely going to speak for itself."

Courtesy of Jasmine Jordan

"I'm not checking for people who think I have a handout or assume because it's my father's brand it should be easy for me. I had to go through the same process as everybody else. I had to do interviews, I had to submit resumes, so on and so forth. My work ethic is definitely going to speak for itself."

On her first day, she felt like the new girl on campus. Dividing her time between Nike's headquarters in Portland while maintaining relations with the team in Charlotte presented its own set of challenges, and she spent the first few months in her role trying to prove herself, only to learn that there is no "I" in "team". "I didn't reach out and ask for help when doing projects," says Jordan. "At first I was like, I just want to hold everything close to me and master it. I'm going to figure it out and then, boom, I'll present."

That mindset failed her when Kemba Walker, who was known for sporting Air Jordan 32s, expressed that the shoe design was uncomfortable when having to cut and drive to the basket. "Instead of asking the team for the proper language to explain what Kemba was uncomfortable with, I just kept saying, 'No, it's the Achilles; it's hurting him.' So, we had to create like three or four different shoes and none of them were accurate or correct because I wasn't speaking in their language."

Pride often comes before a fall, and her own mistakes led to an understanding that asking questions and learning the designer's lingo would help better translate her requests and reduce inefficiency. "I really had to humble myself and understand it's not that anyone's taking anything from me, it's the fact that we're a family. We're a small organization, Jordan Brand. I've got to look at them as family and not just colleagues, and understand that if one person's down, then we're all down."

SHE'S BUILDING HER OWN LEGACY.

Embracing her new "family" would help her go on to launch the Jordan Heiress collection, complementing the growing line of women-focused sneakers. A sneakerhead and fashion lover herself (her personal collection is well over 500 pairs), Jordan regards the experience as a passion project, echoing the advice of her mentor Jeanie Buss, President of the Los Angeles Lakers, to "make sure you love it and it aligns with your heart and it feels right."

"I wanted it to feel like that rich design and have that texture really feel like it could be a designer shoe like the Louis Vuitton, but it's still true to Jordan and true to our retro story," she says.

It's that love and commitment that has allowed Jordan and the Jordan Brand team to continue to catapult the brand which, according to Forbes, just reached its first billion-dollar quarter after an impressive $3.1 billion in wholesale revenue over the previous fiscal year. "If I can have my work ethic, my accomplishments, and my success on projects outshine the fact that I'm my father's child, then my job is done."

Courtesy of Jasmine Jordan

"If I can have my work ethic, my accomplishments, and my success on projects outshine the fact that I'm my father's child, then my job is done."

Jasmine Jordan's building her own. She's a hustler and a go-getter, just like Mike. But she's also a new mother and a soon-to-be wife to fiancé and NBA player Rakeem Christmas. Both roles she embraces with open arms while carrying the workload of a corporate executive on her shoulders. But no worries, she was built for the league of extraordinary women. Between phone calls and emails from work and the never-ending demands of life at home, she slips in five minutes of prayer and meditation here, a currently self-administered manicure there—moments of stillness that are much welcomed in her busy schedule. Motherhood has taught her to practice patience and peace, lessons that extend from the baby room to the boardroom.

"He's new to this world and he's depending on me—depending on his dad and really just depending on us to figure out how to function and understand what's happening around him, and that takes a lot of patience and being calm and laughing," she admits. "I think those are definitely the things that have really come because of becoming a mother. But I appreciate it because now I'm way more patient and I laugh at almost anything and everything just to shake off whatever I might actually be feeling."

It doesn't escape Jordan that she's also raising a Black son in a world that judges him not by his bank account but by the color of his skin. Success, it turns out, isn't a shield from white supremacists or racism.

"He's only blind because he doesn't even realize what's happening, which is a blessing in disguise," says Jordan. "But it is going to be the conversations that I remember my mom having with my brothers (Jeffrey and Marcus) and just saying like, hey, when you go out in public, make sure you're like 'yes or no sir,' 'yes ma'am no ma'am.' You know, manners and be polite. Don't sag your jeans, things that aren't typical conversations for white people or anybody that's not Black. It's about making sure we've raised him just to be a respectful young man and a respectful individual, but we're going to have to have those additional conversations so he can understand what life is like as a Black man."

For now, the little prince can rest easy knowing that he's well-loved and taken care of, though Jordan is clear that she won't just be handing over the keys to the empire. Like her, he'll have to learn about business beyond that of her family to make sure the bag stays secure. "I'm now working with financial advisors and wealth management programs to truly understand what it is to be a beneficiary of wealth," she says. "It's not just about getting money and being able to spend it, you want to make sure that money outgrows and outlives you."

For five Sundays in a row, millions of viewers tuned in to watch The Last Dance, which documented the life and the legacy of her father. But Jasmine Jordan's own story is just getting started, and she's already proving that she's just as worthy of the spotlight.

For more of Jasmine, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image courtesy of Jasmine Jordan.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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