brotherpeacemaker

It's about our community and our spirituality!

I Remember Michael Jackson

Off_the_wall

A coworker came by my desk to give me the news.

Hey Peacemaker, have you heard?
Heard what?
Farrah Fawcett died today.
Oh yeah, I heard about it a little while ago when I was listening to NPR.
So did you hear the other part?
The other part?  What’s that?
Michael Jackson had a heart attack and stopped breathing.
Over Farrah Fawcett???

And then I noticed other people in the office were having their own version of the same conversation in the cubes nearby and throughout the office. Michael Jackson was dead. Farrah picked a hell of a day to kick the bucket. The last thing a self important person like Ms. Fawcett needed was to be upstaged by the death of Michael Jackson. I went back to work.

It might be sad to say but I really could not care any less. Michael Jackson was the very worst example of a black person who really hated being black. While most self hating black people would be content to simply say that they have transcended race, Michael Jackson was the one black person that actually decided to do something about it. Michael Jackson stared at the man in the mirror and decided he didn’t like what he saw enough to buy a new white skin tone, a keen nose that stayed on his face most of the time, thin lips, and a drippy jerry curl to exorcise the kinkiness of his natural hair and eventually just had it permed straight and long. This was not a person happy about being black or who wanted to embrace his blackness. Mr. Jackson ran from being black in front of the entire world to see. Being black was much too painful for him to live with.

What is sad for me is that I loved Michael Jackson just as much as anyone else. Who didn’t? Who didn’t love to hear Michael Jackson sing? And I’m sure there were people who didn’t, but to hell with them. Everybody knew this was a seriously talented young black boy. The dude was crooning like a troubadour at five years old. Who shows that kind of natural talent just months after kicking their diapers to the curb? What was there not to like and admire? No doubt the boy was singing about things he truly didn’t understand. But his voice was so strong, so controlled, with such a good range, and so full of emotion that he could give you the impression that he knew exactly what he was singing about when he was singing songs like Got To Be There and Mama’s Pearl and I’ll Be There.

When Michael broke the stranglehold grip of Berry Gordy and Motown, he truly hit the stratosphere of stardom. Off the Wall, produced under the talented tutelage of Quincy Jones and released under the Epic label, was a phenomenal success for a debut album. And although the cracks were beginning to form in his blackness, his Motown roots were shining through.  The songs were soulful modern interpretations of the songs Michael Jackson grew up singing with his brothers. And we all would be talking about Off the Wall to this day if it wasn’t for the even more spectacular success of his follow up album Thriller. Thriller broke just about every record when it was released. But by now Michael’s true colors began to show and black was not one of them.

On a daily basis Michael Jackson got weirder and weirder. And his music started to suffer as well. You use to be able to sing to a Michael Jackson tune. You could snap your fingers and bob your head as you sang Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough or Rock With You. But I couldn’t sing some of his latest stuff if you held a gun to my head. Michael stopped making the kind of music you wanted to hear and focused on the kind of music that had to be performed with a killer iconic dance move. For sure Michael Jackson’s name is associated with some of the most famous dance moves of all time. Everybody remembers the moonwalk and the robot associated with the song Dancing Machine. Everybody liked to see him spin in place like an ice skater doing a pirouette. But the new music began to take a backseat to the new dance moves on the stage and the songs became impossible to simply listen to or sing with over the radio.

The music that made Michael Jackson famous evaporated along with his blackness. The new hybrid Michael Jackson that looked more like a scarecrow from a Japanese anime and his accompanying music could never compete with the older version. And instead of being content to let his greatness lie in the past the King of Pop kept trying to recreate a new phenomenon based on superficial glitz and glamour instead of what really drove his initial success, the raw talent and the music.

Yes it is sad to hear that Michael Jackson died. But the fact of the matter is that to me, the Michael Jackson I came to know and love died a long time ago. The caricature that took the talented Michael Jackson’s place has finally died as well. Maybe in his death he’ll get the peace he appeared to never have had in life. I will miss the Michael Jackson I fell in love with. I will miss the Michael Jackson that I thought I could identify with as an obvious member of the black community. However, I will confess that I will not miss the man that became better known as the King of Pop.

Rest in peace Michael Jackson.

Friday, June 26, 2009 - Posted by | Black Community, Life, Michael Jackson, Thoughts

9 Comments »

  1. RIP Michael, you truly will be missed!

    New blogposts here: http://alwaysrealtalk.blogspot.com/

    Comment by Shabazz | Friday, June 26, 2009 | Reply

  2. Brotherpeacemaker, I disliked MJ for many years, as I too felt he was running from his blackness. In ALOT of ways he was, but some of that stuff was beyond his control; and I felt he did those things to feel a little more (normal)due to his issues.
    Michael Jackson had a disease called vitiligo, which over a short period of time, turns your skin colorless; almost albino-like. Once the disease progresses over more than 2/3
    (I think)of the body; one has the option of bleaching the rest of their skin to have the appearance of an even skin tone. People affected with this disease literally look 1/2 black,1/2 white. Michael used pancake makeup to even his skin color out. Former pop singer Cisqo (remember him) also has this disease. I wonder if that’s the reason we don’t see him anymore? Michael had lupus as well; and I know 2 people personally who have this disease, which becomes pretty painful and debilitating in its later stages. I’m not making excuses for MJ’s sometimes strange actions; but to an extent I sympathize with him because of alot of things I didn’t know about him. Wikipedia has a great bio on him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jackson;
    I also did a brief writeup on my blog http://alwaysrealtalk.blogspot.com/

    Peace.

    Comment by Shabazz | Friday, June 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. Michael could have probably done a lot more for the black community had he not undergone cosmetic surgery. He was an icon that could have effected a lot of “things” positively.

    I’m not sure we can actually imagine the amount of pressure and stress he was under at the time. I don’t know. I know i can’t because i am white for a start, and only 21. You are presumably black and a lot older, and therefor understand a lot more than i ever can. But what mass media, money and pressure from authoritarian positions within the industry in those times could have done to a 5 year old boy, is crazy. I think it would be arragont to presume you are aware of what trully went through his head. It is obvious what he took upon himself, his body as his temple, was a social mistake, irrespective of what he thought. But we all make mistakes. But perhaps it is simply easier for me to forgive his mistake being white. But he was a tortured individual that was never given the oppotunity to feel comfortable with who he was, on a scale with actually no comparison.

    A sad story indeed.

    Comment by Sam | Friday, June 26, 2009 | Reply

  4. A neighbor came home last night, while I was sitting on the stoop enjoying some homemade sweet tea. He was singing half outloud, but mostly for his own benefit. As he gets closer to me he comments, “The King of Pop is dead. I miss that man already.”

    I might miss some of the music, although anytime I want, I suppose I could download it, or go find an album if I really wanted to listen to the stuff. The man himself was nothing more than a big circus for the media to cover over the last decade or more.

    His “Thriller” album was one of the select few my mom used to play on a near-daily basis when I was real young. (She also played some Prince album, an Elton John album, and some Ragtime music stuff). Of course back then, while others had moved onto cassettes, we still had the luxury of a turntable to play our music on. I loved the Thriller album.

    But I think as Michael’s skin started changing color on its own, he somehow lost his identity mentally (nevermind the always brought up child star syndrome thing)…and from there on out, he slowly transformed into oddity of late that overshadowed his early years.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Friday, June 26, 2009 | Reply

  5. Hey all: I changed my blog url to: http://theundergroundasylum.blogspot.com/

    Peace.

    Comment by Shabazz | Saturday, June 27, 2009 | Reply

  6. Thanks MJ for all you did. Your efforts almost single-handedly fed an entire black continent; food to uplift the body and music that lifted souls outside despair momentarily. You are “Gone too Soon” my good sir.

    Comment by Carlton | Monday, June 29, 2009 | Reply

  7. The world was recently saddened by the sudden loss of pop icon Michael Jackson. In memoriam of this legendary and one-of-a-kind performer, Ztarlet Star Registry has dedicated an actual star in his memory – as a symbol of the bright light that Jackson brought to the music industry and his millions of loyal fans across the globe.

    http://www.prweb.com/releases/ztarlet/star-registry/prweb2584534.htm

    Digg this!

    Comment by RIPMichaelJackson | Tuesday, June 30, 2009 | Reply

  8. I am very disappointed at this blog post. I stumbled upon your blog as I was looking for information on vitilago. I think it is irresponsible for you to post about MJ supposedly hating himself without researching or making any mention of the DISEASE that he suffered from.

    Michael said over and over again, “I am proud of being a black American.” He raised money, he brought awareness to causes, he wrote songs about social injustice. He did more than one person can reasonably be expected to do for the black community. It should not have been his job to be the representative for the entire culture. What mistakes might you have made over the course of being in the public eye for 35 years??

    In fact, I am glad that the world got to see a singular example of the suffering the so many black men and women go through in silence. It is devastatingly sad to me how we turn on each other, forever judging who and what is “too black” (BET) & who and what isn’t black enough (MJ). Attitudes like this are lending to the destruction of the psyche of African-Americans.

    Comment by Debra | Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Debra,

      “I am very disappointed at this blog post…”

      I understand. I’m disappointed with your comment as well. You see, I have family members who have suffered with vitiligo. It never made anyone I know of go completely white. It never straightened their hair, keened their nose, deflated their lips, put a cleft in anyone’s chin, or resulted in white children. I have seen vitiligo happen and so I fail to understand how it can completely explain Mr. Jackson’s appearance. Many people who deal with the disease and want to hide the lack of pigmentation will wear makeup to blend their skin to its natural dark color and not to use it as an excuse to become something other than black.

      But nevertheless, even if that was the case for Mr. Jackson’s appearance, I must admit that I find the idea that a skin disease can explain away Mr. Jackson’s behavior is rather ridiculous as well. Mr. Jackson’s children do not share his genes and appear to be all white from white egg and sperm donors. Mr. Jackson’s wives didn’t come from the black community.

      Yes Mr. Jackson wrote some lovely songs about the unfairness in the world. Just the other day during one of those many program paying tribute to the King of Pop, I watched the Man In the Mirror video and was moved emotionally. It is a powerful statement. But what was the practice? Yes Mr. Jackson donated to charities. Many of us do. Does that mean we’ve done all that we could? I’ve written a few articles about disparity. Does that buy me a pass to go off the deep end and turn my back on my blackness? Does the fact that I’ve written other articles mean you will no longer be disappointed in this one?

      But like you said, it is sad to see how we turn on each other. You should listen to yourself sometime.

      Peace

      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | Reply


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