Inner Michael » Part 1 of 8 Black or White: The Series Intro

Part 1 of 8 Black or White: The Series Intro

If asked what song by Michael Jackson I like best, I would have to say “Man in the Mirror.” But if the question was which song was the most influential or had the most impact in the context of history, it would be “Black or White.”

Michael Jackson was a civil rights activist and freedom fighter who knew he had a kind of bully pulpit and who strategized how to use it deliberately to change the world. Through music, movement and imagery, Michael set out to change the world– and did. Black or White is an example.

A master of double entendre`and irony, and subliminal suggestion, Michael’s sense of humor bleeds through everything he does. He is bold in what he says but moreso in what he doesn’t say. Black or White comes to us in the album Dangerous and Michael had to consciously know what he was doing in choosing ironic names and encoding messages; I’ve learned that this perfectionist did nothing by chance. He had a reason for everything he did and was meticulous in how his message was carried out and communicated.

Black or White is fascinating for a number of reasons. It’s not so subtle as the messages in Ghost but it is powerful in the statements it makes and it would have been seen by some as well… dangerous. The world was not ready for what Michael did in the short film for Black or White. It was still trussed up in conservative and even puritanical beliefs and Michael’s actions in the film were not just controversial but outrageous. He was overtly erotic and even autoerotic and “violent” and that made people nervous; they were afraid of his influence on youth.  But that is precisely the audience he was going after and the film was calculated to get their attention so that the message could be delivered. Youth is rebellious because one of the hallmarks of development toward emancipation is to find a way to push against in order to push off from the generation from which they are emancipating. It’s an essential radicalism and Michael fully capitalized on it in a “teachable moment” in history.

The coda, the symbolism, the sequence, the message are all deliberate– whether subliminal or overt. Michael had something important to say. He already had an audience. He had a message. The times were not ready, so he made them ready and that was… Dangerous.

Beginning later this week, Inner Michael will feature Black or White in 3 parts. A history lesson is necessary to place  Black or White in its historical context and is essential background information in order to understand the historical significance of Michael’s work in the Dangerous album and in Black or White in particular and how it influenced the world. It was the most anticipated video in history. It was released around the world at the same time and it changed the course of that world. It was deliberate, it was genius, it was bold and very, very Dangerous.

We will then look through the shaman’s eye at the metaphysics, archetypes and symbols.

Part I will be a review of the history lesson. Part II will look closely at the film and its symbolism and in Part III — the Panther Dance. So stay tuned.

For anyone who has not read the Ghost series at Inner Michael, or who would like to review it go here…

And there is a little comfort station at the end of the journey at Ghost lite:


  1. Angela Jang said . . .

    Hi Barbara. One difference between the two songs you mentioned is that Michael didn’t compose Man in the Mirror, although of course he did love the lyrics and he adopted the song as a kind of anthem. I can’t imagine anyone ever outperforming him on that one. His performance of Man in the Mirror at the 1988 Grammys is breathtaking, no matter how many times you watch it. I agree that Black or White is such an important song (and dance) in Michael’s repertoire. I love the rhythmic emphasis on “with” in the first verse, a word that usually has little meaning in our everyday conversations. But in this lyric it’s extremely significant since we’re meant to picture a black guy who’s being challenged by a white guy for being out with a white girl. Michael includes the slur “Boy…” to start the other man’s challenge, but answers “We’re one and the same”. Wow! What a fantastic affirmation. Different races, different genders…… but for Michael: the same. I love that. Thank you for this excellent site, Barbara. Angela

    Posted April 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  2. Joyce said . . .

    Rev. Barbara, I am really looking forward to reading your series on Michael’s incredible song and short film “Black or White”. Your series on “Ghosts” gave me so much to think about and inspired me to keep looking deeper into all of Michael’s amazing music. I am inspired every day by the messages that Michael left for all of us in his words and music!
    Thank you also for leading me to find the link to Amy Grace’s beautiful website “A Cosmic Connection” Her amazing Michael inspired words, artwork, and music have touched my heart and soul.

    Posted April 5, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink
  3. Robin W. Smith said . . .

    Thank you for doing Black or White. I can’t wait for your series. The release of the Black or White video was a remarkable statement of MJ’s power. I was waiting in a hotel room for it’s premier. The message was ahead of it’s time. I feel that it was the Dangerous Album that showed Michaels spiritual side and mission. MJ was thinking ahead of all of us. Thank you for your work; I rely on your website and emails to remind me that “I am not alone”. Please keep it coming, great counselor!

    Posted April 5, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink
  4. Dalia said . . .

    Thanks Barbara! I love your perspective and your analysis of the films of MJ. Is great that you do this. I’m anxious to see that you are going to say you found in it. Just as in their songs, lyrics, and dance performances are masterly, MJ’s videos are works of art with great meaning created by him. If you decoder as you did with “ghosts” will be a great gift for us fans. Still there is much to talk about his videos, I love you Barbara!

    Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:19 am | Permalink
  5. Lauren said . . .

    Looking forward to your series, Rev. B. It seems so easy to miss what lies right underneath that grand music.

    Posted April 6, 2011 at 2:21 am | Permalink
  6. gertrude said . . .

    I cannot WAIT for this. I will be checking daily, that is how much I want to hear your decoding of Black and White – one of the greatest music vids of all time, if not THE greatest, IMO.

    Posted April 6, 2011 at 5:45 am | Permalink
  7. souldreamer7 said . . .

    I’m very.. very familiar with what you are speaking. I have found my very own path too. My journey. I await your 3 part series. With Love and Light souldreamer7

    Posted April 6, 2011 at 5:51 am | Permalink
  8. AnneUK said . . .

    Hello Rev Barbara,
    I can’t wait either for the three parts of Black and White.If it gives me the same amount of insight that your “Ghost” series did, it’ll be another journey into Michaels music that will resonate deep within me. I am just so thankful that you directed me to your “Inner Michael” site.I know Michael looks down and thinks “At last someone sees my messages clearly”.I could never begin to thankyou enough for your inspired writing that has been a life saver to me. With much love AnneUK xx

    Posted April 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
  9. Kim said . . .

    I also await your series on Black and White. Your series on Ghosts was very insightful and as always it inspires me to think and see things differently. My sincere thanks to you for what you do here for so many people. Like many others, I do look forward to what you will write next. It really does not come as any surprise that Michael was very clear on his intentions. The more I get to know Michael, I see his brilliance and light shine very brightly. Namaste Kim

    Posted April 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
  10. Heidi said . . .

    Looking forward with great anticipation as all of us walk hand in hand through the door Michael opened so long ago. I can hear his infamous giggle as he says, “Finally!……..” Bring it Rev. Barbara, bring it!

    Posted April 12, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink
  11. Nina Hamilton said . . .

    Hello, Barbara.

    I told you I would always be here in the background fighting for Michael even if you didn’t hear from me too often. Thank you for your email. I am glad you have contacted me because there is something I have been meaning to say for days and was not sure who to say it to. Now I know!

    Regarding ‘Black Or White’ it is obvious in the ‘violent’ scenes of smashing car windscreens, windows etc. all which had racist messages written on them, that Michael was attacking prejudice, a word that appeared quite boldly over his face at the end. I have noticed with disappointment that his new ‘Visions’ DVD, ‘Black Or White’ has the messages and the word deleted, maybe to dilute references to racism in the future.

    Now the matter on my mind was since reading about Michael’s symbolism in his song lyrics and messages, I keep thinking of something I read in the Bible in Revelations 12 where it seems is the only reference to the name Michael in the book. In his song ‘D.S.’ about Thomas Sneddon with his initials changed to avoid libel, I wonder if MJ had read the same passage, and meant what it says. It goes like this: ‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels; 8 and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, – (D.S.)? – the deceiver of the whole world’ ….10…… for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accuseth them before our God day and night.’

    There is just something spine-chilling about this that rings so true I felt compelled to share it, although I am not particularly religious. I wonder what is your view on it? I never failed to be surprised by the Michael affect on me.

    Posted May 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink
  12. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Hi Nina. The original version of Black or White did NOT have the graffiti on the windows and door of the nearby shop. The epithets were added later to soften the impact of Michael’s rage and to give it a target. Yes, the whole video is a statement about race and racism. I am not sure I can stretch that far as you have with Revelations but that particular battle is a very old one– good against evil– and it can be seen contemporarily in the movies. Star Wars, Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, for example.

    Archangel Michael is the commander of the army of God and is recognized in Christian, Islamic and Jewish scripture. He is the archangel who wields the sword of truth and fights the war of the sons or darkness against the sons of light. This could allegorically mean many things: Good against evil, spirit vs. matter, ego vs. soul, and it could also mean the struggle within self- the shadow against bright shadow. It may mean that inner choice between what is soulful and what is not. The players in the Michael story know whether the choices they made were soulful or not. We all know. We always know.

    Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

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