Yesterday, Michael Jordan shocked America by making a political statement. He informed the public that he is "deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement" and that he is also angry about "the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers." Though the statement is balanced, the mainstream (which is dominated by the opinion of white Americans) is not about balance. In the mainstream, cops are always right (listen to Donald Trump's overlong and very loopy speech at the Republican National Conference) and racism no longer exists in the US. So, it is a big deal that someone who is as mainstream as Jordan, the current owner of the Charlotte Hornets and a black celebrity who during his entire professional career made almost no mention of his race and made every effort to be the complete opposite of Muhammad Ali, went against the mainstream and suggested that racism and bad cops are not yet extinct. Why did this happen?
And why are other members of the black mainstream embracing the themes and concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement? My guess is that the black middle and upper classes are not safe from police surveillance and violence. You can be a black man "selling CDs and DVDs in a cardboard box on [a] table" on the street or a black man who is "a healthcare professional" and still be seen as one and the same threat and face the same danger. And it is this sense of shared danger that connects the different classes on this issue.
On the other hand, class disconnection can be seen as the reason why the destruction of public housing from the mid-90s to the beginning of this decade failed to generate the same political storm that police shootings have, despite their very negative impact on black lives and communities. In fact, Hope 6-sponsored demolitions probably caused more black misery than racist policing, and yet nothing like Black Lives Matter ever responded to this form of institutional racism.
There was nothing like a Deray Mckesson (a member of the black middle class) at the violent anti-demolition protests that erupted in New Orleans in 2007. And certainly no Michael Jordan felt deeply about the displacement of thousands upon thousands of blacks by Hope 6's policies, which were described by some as "neo-Negro Removal." Why? Because those policies didn't directly affect the black middle class (this is indeed the subject of August Wilson's last play Radio Golf), and there is also a sense of shame about public housing among working- and middle-class blacks. When it came to this cause, those at the very bottom were on their own.