Inner Michael » Part 4 of 8 Black or White: Short film part one

Part 4 of 8 Black or White: Short film part one

The film begins in the clouds. What are we doing in the clouds? Why begin in the clouds? The clouds are metaphorically the home of God, the Angels, lofty ideas, music of the spheres, the higher self, the cosmos, the genesis of genius, inspiration and all things spiritual. Are we taking something from the Heavens and bringing it down to earth? Are we infusing spirituality or spirit? Michael was very familiar with god-infused creativity. One has to wonder why take us from the heavens down to earth unless you want us to go with you on this journey? Are we bringing god-stuff down into earthly reality? Breathing Spirit into matter? Is this an inspired journey? It is if you’re a cosmologist.

Or maybe it’s a reference to: this issue is so much bigger than one family, one region, one country—it is the entire earth and its human race that is so busy “otherizing” people of its same species. Otherizing is the practice of making people “other;” it’s a tribal mentality that “others” (as a verb) people so that it is easier to dehumanize them. It’s making us/them distinctions. It’s enemy-making which comes in handy if you want to have a little war or two on a lonely planet. The Earth is an island—one big sandbox where the inhabitants don’t always “play nice” together. That is what Michael was saying—so we begin in the clouds. The image of seeing earth from above was iconic when introduced with the NASA “Blue Marble” photograph from 28,000 miles out on Apollo 17 so the idea of the whole planet as one species had been around since 1972. Michael now takes us in for a close-up.

We see the lights of the world as we descend to the ground and from those lofty heights down into material reality, the earthly realm or ground zero. Next, we are racing along a street past an expensive red sporty car, and into an all white neighborhood. We arrive in a cul-de-sac—an emblematic feature of the landscape of an upper middle class or higher socio-economic area. We are greeted by a white kid listening and rocking to music. We are to find out in awhile that he is a Michael Jackson fan. White children showing allegiance to a black performer with power and leadership ability would have constituted a threat to the prevailing social order. It would have deeply offended some. It’s more than possible that Michael, a rich, black and influential force was seen as a threat and as someone who was attempting to corrupt America’s youth. Youth, after all, was Michael’s target audience. Those who favor racial separation would have been concerned especially when Michael says: “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.” To some with fragile egos and an impotency complex, it would matter a great deal.

Then we meet a father whose pastime is the TV remote and watching sports and a mother whose pastime is the tabloids. This is not an intellectual or highly educated family. Are these “average Joe” and “average Jane” working class people who, it appears by their pastimes, allow outside influences to shape their thinking? Average Joe and Jane who defer to institutions (media, government, religions, corporate interests) to do their thinking for them, constitute a large portion of the population. It is a portion that is lulled into complacency when they are told what to believe.

Was this also a commentary about parenting and how middle-class white America spent its time and intellect? Is this a satirical message about the “dumbing down of America?” Is this Michael criticizing parenting done at a distance? The parents are certainly not interacting with the child. The father then asserts his authority over his son and berates his son’s pastime of music, yelling at him and telling him to “go to bed” as he slams the door with Michael’s poster breaking and falling on the floor. Did you catch the satire, the irony? Hobbies that are numbing: a dad sitting in a lounger watching sports and a mom whose interest is tabloid gossip, are acceptable pastimes but their son’s interest in music is not. And Michael’s image falls and is shattered. Dad with a loaded remote and mom with her nose in the gossip magazines tell their son: “you’re wasting your time with this garbage.”  It’s juxtaposition with irony.

The child, played by Macaulay Culkin then wheels two huge speakers into the room while his parents are so preoccupied with their mindless pastimes that they don’t even notice what he is doing. Is this another commentary on absent parenting—“parents, do you know where your children are?” The boy then wipes his mouth bad-boy-Michael-style and blasts them out of their hypnosis with a guitar chord saying “eat this!” Interesting that the remark is about what is being consumed in that family? “Eat this” is slang for a number of things and for revenge.

The father is then blasted by music and by the vehicle of music across the planet to another culture, to a world he’s never been before with black hunters (faces painted black and white) stalking their prey. Does Michael raise a question here about what is “primitive” in culture– mindless TV and tabloids or the “tribal” Bushmen of Africa? Next we see Michael with the group identifying as one of them in dance as he dances an ethnic warrior dance. Can we possibly miss that message? Who is the real warrior? He sings about taking his baby on a bang or gathering and is asked “Boy, is that girl with you?” That is a reference to a black man hanging out with a white woman (“white chicks”) and Michael says “we are one and the same.” “Boy” is a racial slur and black men seen with white girlfriends used to raise the deepest and darkest kind of revulsion and racism because it was crossing a line considered an ancestral taboo. Michael reintroduces us to the ancestral vibe with “primitive” aboriginals.

Blacks and white mixing and especially black men with white women wasn’t just disturbing to a segment of the population; it would inflame rage. It was a hypocrisy that went unchallenged before because of a lack of power and voice to launch such a challenge. For slave owners, it had been acceptable and even encouraged for white men to impregnate, through rape if necessary, black women slaves in order to “lighten” the race. Women slaves were nothing more than owned possessions; in fact all women were considered chattel.

Very dark Negroes were less acceptable than the lighter or mulatto African American men and women—and would fetch less money when sold. The mulatto was created (mostly by deliberate force) and for the whites to feel more comfortable with Negroes. It’s the pinnacle of racial arrogance. But there is an even darker and hidden kind of racism that needs to be told—especially with respect to Michael.

Within the birth control movement and family planning initiatives for African Americans, there is more than a little suspicion that encouraging responsible procreation in the African American community was more an attempt to prevent black population growth than to alleviate poverty. The sexuality of the Negro was of great interest to whites. There were those who believed in Eugenics which is the cleansing of a race of its undesirable or weaker elements—meaning people. There were covert attempts to render the black man impotent, sterile or asexual. Experiments involving sexually transmitted disease were conducted on black males without their knowledge and consent.

There is cryptic mythology that surrounds the black male. “Black” in culture has always been taken to mean “bad,” or “dark,” “sinister” or something undesirable. We use linguistics like “black arts,” “black-hearted,” “black widow,” “darkness,” the “Black Madonna” and so on. There is a negative association with the word black—secrecy, power, Nubian, mystery, fear, lack, evil, bad luck, chaos, concealment, and death. Blackness has a reputation and vibe. “African American” has a much more positive connotation in the culture.

There is a cultural mythology about the black male that has persisted since the discovery of “the suitability of blacks for slavery” because their dark skins handled the sun much better than other races and they could sustain picking crops in the sun. The mythology that developed around the slave was a dark myth which depicts the African or black male hyper-sexualized and dangerous and unable to control his primitive animalistic nature and who secretly has an overwhelming lust for white women. An equally entrenched mythology about white women portrayed them as delicate creatures—pure, fragile, chaste and vulnerable. And their “puritanical sexuality” and delicate nature required protection by their white men—from the hyper-sexual black male. Maleness, virility and power are tied inextricably in the culture to sexuality. The phallus as a symbol of power and fertility shows up in all cultures and is archetypally embedded. In the white male, his impotency is tied to his inability to protect his women and keep them under control, and to especially keep their unsatiated sexual desires in check. The white puritanical female must never be  allowed to be tempted by the hyper-sexual black male who would appeal to her unrealized animal nature. The whole Mandingo complex and mythology is tied to impotency and power as it relates to sexuality. Michael addresses that later in Black or White after hinting about it in this first segment.

Aboriginal dance usually incorporates rhythms considered passionate, hypnotic and unbridled where people can lose control of their senses and bodies. There is an associated fear of primitive and passionate rhythms and dance. Again, the sexuality myth linked to unbridled sexual passions arises in the movement of dance, especially a frenetic form of dance. When Elvis first came on the scene, the “establishment” (mature generation) derided rock n’ roll as being corrupting to youth and wouldn’t allow Elvis to be filmed from the waist down because of the gyrations of his body. They thought those primitive rhythms corrupting to youth. Elvis’s music was considered black music and originally thought raucous and vulgar. Elvis was the first white musician to incorporate elements of black music and brought black musicians into his work. The ultra-religious thought rock n’ roll the work of the Devil. The same and worse was said about Michael.

In Black or White there are many scenes where a ladder is either prominent or part of the background. Michael used cryptic symbols and a ladder, if intentional, might make a subliminal reference to social strata. Are we climbing the ladder in Black or white and is that intentional? After the African aboriginal dance, Michael crosses in front of a ladder. It’s subtle, but why have a ladder in the segue to the next shot? An accident? Not likely to be accidentally left on set and filmed by mistake; not in the world of Michael the perfectionist. Next we see Michael with Asian women, specifically Southeast Asian, a reference to yet another cornerstone race—the yellow one. And he dances with these women in their traditional costumes and jumping to yet another race—Native Americans in traditional regalia. And they too become warriors of their race right in front of our eyes.

Next we see him reading a paper as he makes reference to the “Saturday Sun” once thought to be a legitimate newspaper that turned tabloid and again dancing with an ethnic partner—this time an East Indian and they are dancing in traffic with an oil refinery in the background. An accident or a commentary about the consumption of oil and the environment? He says he has to print his message in the Sun about being second to none- a more obvious reference to racism and he throws away the paper.

Then we see Michael dancing with Russians in front of a recreation of the “onion dome” architecture of Russia and St. Basil’s Cathedral—an iconic image that signified to everyone at that time, the “Communist” and “enemy.” This is an obvious call for making peace with the enemy—who is also a global citizen. (Michael would later visit Red Square and be almost mobbed by Russian fans and would march with the Russian army.)

So by now Michael has danced with the cornerstone races: Black, yellow, red and white. He has danced with classes and races and cultures and even danced with his enemy. Dancing with these diverse racial and ethnic minorities, many of whom are vilified by culture and have had to become “warriors” for equality, signals that Michael dances in solidarity with their status, social position and concerns. How dare he, a black man turning white (very light skinned by this time from the Vitiligo treatments) dance with those considered inferior or enemies?

The camera pans back to wider angle and we now see the scenes in the context of inside—is it a music box? Does that mean that music is a context for a kind of ethnic, social and racial communion? Then as we back up farther, we see that a Caucasian child and an African American child sit atop a globe—signaling their place as beings, as children, as new life (babies) on the planet. They certainly aren’t concerned with their color difference. Prejudice has to be taught; we are not born with it. Is Michael signaling to us what we should be teaching and sharing with the children or new generations—that we share a planet as one race and we are born to get along because we are more alike than different?

Now we see that Michael is walking forward and punching his way through images that form in the smokescreen of the firestorm he is in the center of and emerges from as he walks through it. And he declares that he is tired of this stuff, of the devil of prejudice and separation and he is not “afraid of no sheets” which is a direct reference to the Klu Klux Klan that used to catch “offending” negroes and lynch them while wearing white sheets with pointed a cone-shaped apex covering their bodies and heads. Black men who even dared to look at a white woman were lynched. They were expected to avert their eyes. And if a black man touched a white women—that was an instant death sentence. So here is Michael Jackson—a black man, turning white who is defiantly dating white females and even marrying two Caucasian women.

In the fire, we glimpse what looks an explosion, a reference to Russia and the U.S. being nuclear enemies, and a brief image of the Klu Klux Klan symbol (a burning cross, hooded figure and torches) and a tank and soldiers symbolizing war, while the warrior, his fists clenched, punches his way through the illusions. And that is what all of those divisions are—constructs of the human ego and illusions that divide people.

Michael next takes us to an urban setting, the “hood” where wars about territory are smaller while the children in the poor neighborhood talk about those turf wars and how nations divided against nations in human relations is the same but only the size of the turf changes. And they declare that they don’t want to spend their lives “being a color,” meaning to let race and color limit them or define who they are.

Then Michael says to not nod your head in agreement and feign that you agree with racial and social equality if you “kick dirt in his eye” which is a dated reference to belittling or disrespecting what he is saying by mouthing agreement but living the opposite through one’s actions.

Suddenly we find ourselves with Michael on a railing and as the view widens, he is in front of a symbolic flame—atop an iconic image of equality and freedom for all. And as the camera pans backward once again metaphorically widening our view, we see landmarks that convey areas all over the earth—the Eifel Tower of France, Big Ben in England, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, The Giza Plateau in Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India, the Parthenon in Greece, New York City’s skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge of America, and the landscape features of oceans and rivers—and finally we see that Michael is being held high in the limb of Liberty.

And in the final scene of that sequence, we watch as people, all members of the human race change and morph into all ethnicities and races and colors from around the world. Michael dances the dance of life with the whole planet, with all faces and places and races—Black, White, Yellow, Read, and says without saying… “We are all brothers, all members of the same human family. We are one.” The message in the morph? The changing face of humanity. That was Michael—a man who kept morphing, a changing face himself who went about changing the face of humanity.

Next: Stalking the Panther


  1. gertrude said . . .

    I love this. you have not missed a beat. Thanks to your wealth of knowledge and wonderful skills of analysis we begin to see how massive this work of Michael’s was and is, and how much more so than we ever realized, even if all along we were viscerally overjoyed with Black or White. Thank-you for articulating this brilliant film so thoroughly, what a pleasure this read is.

    Posted April 17, 2011 at 6:09 am | Permalink
  2. ilonna milovidova said . . .

    Many thanks to you for the interesting and informative story about Michael Jackson’s struggle against racism. Thanks for detailed illumination of a film “Black and White.” I know that the love erases racial prejudices. When you love, skin color has no value.

    Posted April 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  3. Dalia said . . .

    Michael is awesome. Thanks Barbara for giving out the work of a genius. Great job Barbara, worthy of sharing with many people like everything you write here.

    Posted April 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  4. karen said . . .

    Interesting view of things. Michael seemed to have many meanings in his messages…

    Posted April 17, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  5. Docas said . . .

    Thank you Rev Barbara for all that you do to enlighten us about the genius work of Michael Jackson. Michael’s message was simple, “it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white for we are all one.” The main stream media created controversies to belittle his message and that is why a lot of people didn’t see the message. They rather focus on how light Michael Jackson looked in this video or anything else that distract viewers from the true message. Even though Michael is gone, I believe his genius work will awaken a lot of people from ignorance and bring to light what’s really important. I know I have and I give thanks to Michael and for people like Barbara for not being afraid to speak the “truth.” I believe when we live in ignorance, we are sleeping like the apostles in the biblical story; they fell asleep during the final hour when Christ was being manipulated and tempted by the Devil.

    Posted April 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  6. Joyce said . . .

    Thank You Rev. Barbara for this very impressive analysis of “Black or White”, one of Michael’s many amazing songs. I finally had the chance to sit down and read all of your posts in this series so far. Michael’s message in so many of his songs spoke of uniting humanity, all colors, all creeds, and he always encouraged us to start with our own ability to love ourselves and each other. He often spoke of being self motivated, keeping the faith, keeping your head up, reaching out and making that change! The thing I have always appreciated so much in Michael’s message of equality and unity is that it focused on the Positive! Michael knew that he was a cultural sensation and he embraced that position to communicate his positive messages of love and healng for the planet and for all of humanity. I will most certainly have to watch the “Black or White” short film again with a more focused eye to see some of your vision. The extraordinary thing to me is that even if you think you are just enjoying the short film for the awesome dancing (I dare you to sit still while watching) and that incredibly amazing voice, Michael’s message is still coming through loud and clear! That is what made Michael so very special!

    Posted April 19, 2011 at 12:46 am | Permalink
  7. Kim said . . .

    Thank you Rev. Barbara for your very skillful and insightful analysis of Michael’s work. I am one of those people who has to hear a song multiple times before I capture all of lyrics and their meaning. With Michael’s music, it is different; however, your analysis has brought more clarity and understanding of the various issues and how Michael tried to change things. Sure I was exposed to or saw the things that you and Michael talk about, but your analysis brings a deep reality to it. Thank you for writing this series. I will never watch another one of Michael’s videos the same again, that is for sure. Bravo to you! Sincerely, Kim

    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:31 am | Permalink
  8. Sue Springer said . . .

    Thank you for this series, Rev. B. There was no greater champion of the human family than Michael. And Black or White, as you have so wonderfully highlighted, was one of the best examples of how hurtful and silly it is to divide our human family by meaningless titles and fear. If a person can watch the faces morphing one to another and not realize how beautiful we all are and how alike, then I think that is a person who is very lost. Bravo for this series Rev. B.

    Posted April 20, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Permalink
  9. Suvie said . . .

    Hello Barbara! Yet again… wonderful piece! I wonder why I missed the details when I saw the video a number of times esp. the ones you mentioned in the first part. However, I have a doubt about one info: Not likely to be accidentally left on set and filmed by mistake; not in the world of Michael the perfectionist. Next we see Michael with Asian women, specifically Taiwanese, a reference to yet another cornerstone race—the yellow one. Is this information about the picture in your post where a woman holds her hand like a mirror to Michael? This woman is an Indian and she is doing a dance called “Bharatnatyam.” But may be, it could also be Taiwanese as you mention… in that case I would appreciate any more info you have about it. Thanks.

    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  10. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Suvie, thanks for asking. I agree the ladders that show up multiple times in “Black or White” are not likely an accident. The circle of women dancing in front of Michael are not Indian; the woman in traffic with Michael is the Bharatnatyam dancer. The women who circle Michael are from the Thai peninsula- not Taiwan. I should have said “Southeast Asian” which includes traditional and aboriginal dances that are Khmer, Cambodian or Vietnamese and not necesarily from the Island of Taiwan itself which is off the east coast of China. Laotian traditional dance includes the faux fingertips and they are possibly Laotian of that region. Hmong costumes are more conservative. The traditions in that area are similar to tribal traditions in the Americas and differ from region to region. Thanks for catching that and helping make it clearer.

    Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
  11. Susan T said . . .

    The first time I listened to Black or White I knew that Michael was addressing racism. However, after reading your brilliant analysis of the short film, I am stunned at the depth and breadth he went to focus attention on so many social and environmental issues. I will watch Black or White now with a new perspective and appreciation for his incredible consciousness and marvelous ability to create and articulate. He was both subtle and forceful with the images he created. Anyone who doubts that he is a genius–emotionally, creatively, and spiritually, is simply not fully awake. I am in awe! Thank you, Reverend Barbara. I think you are “channeling” his messages to us. Truly amazing! Considering his insatiable desire for perfection, it’s probably a tad intimidating, yes?

    Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Permalink
  12. sam said . . .

    Dear Barbara, again I am amazed at the connection with Michael and how you see his message so clearly. I know he used his songs to communicate his feelings but most people do miss that at least initially I think. If you just watch the video and hear only the music you may miss a lot. I did. When I finally paid attention to his words and sometimes had to look up the words to his songs that I realized I was starting to know Michael Jackson. It comforts me to read your words because you are amazing in knowing what he is saying or trying to communicate. Thank you, thank you. I have watched the video “Hold My Hand.” There is a comment section and one person writes “you will see him in heaven. He has a concert there everynight.” To me that paints a beautiful picture!

    Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink
  13. Suvie said . . .

    Thanks for the detailed info. 🙂

    Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink
  14. Docas said . . .

    I never knew that many successful organizations hid secret messages or codes on Television Commercial, food, and even merchandise to target buyers, especially children, to make big bucks. Michael knew of this marketing strategy and he used it in his music videos; however, his secret messages or codes were meant to awaken people, especially the youth, to the “truth.” He knew he could not openly and publicly speak his mind on some of the injustice he witnessed while traveling around the world. He used his talent in music and dance as an outlet not just to entertain but to deliver his messages. It is also interesting to know that whenever Michael recorded his music, he always left room for God to come in. Michael‘s out of this world talent wasn’t just because he had a great work ethic but because he emptied himself and invited God to come in. God gracefully spoke in his music and music videos with messages we have today. Thanks Barbara for encoding these messages for us.

    Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink
  15. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Yes, there are many secrets in marketing– subliminal messages are effective. Michael studied subliminals. He was genius and a shaman who was all about awakening. He still awakens.

    Posted April 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Permalink
  16. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Michael studied many metaphysical subjects and he knew about subliminal messages. Some people know Michael as an “entertainer.” They’ve missed the point. He was a teacher, messenger, shaman and mystic; and as a river for god– a “fisher of men.” Yes, he awakened many; he still awakens.

    Posted April 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink
  17. Sapphire said . . .

    I am surprised that you did not mention the opening sequence’s similarity to the opening of the 1984 Twisted Sister video “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, in which a teen uses rock and roll to similarly and comically get back at a yelling, killjoy dad. Back in 1991, an “Entertainment Weekly” article on the Jackson video’s controversy pointed this out. Do you think this was an homage on Jackson’s part?

    Posted May 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
  18. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    The opening of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is similar but more militant, angry and violent. It too met with criticism that eventually led to Tipper Gore’s ‘Parent’s Music Resource Center. Ironic perhaps? Both videos are a reference to a militant America and parental authority but Twisted Sister’s was made in 1984 by a white band and Michael’s video was made in 1993 by a black solo artist. Twisted Sister’s “WNGTI” has no offensive lyrics and Jackson’s has lyrics that promote racial cooperation. Michael’s opening with parents is much milder and subtle than the other yet I believe it was met with even more criticism and censure. It may have been an homage- I can’t say for sure but just as likely, it was a reminder. A kind of “we have been here before, remember?” How is it that a mider version of the same message ten years later is met with more resistance than the original- one delivered by caucasians and one by an African American showcasing a white family. I think one is compelled to ask: “why is that?” Twisted Sister’s lyrics are less offensive than some of today’s Hiphop. It’s worth examining and pondering those unanswered questions about what is valued and what is disdained in cultures and how that relates to evolution, evolution of collective consciousness and the racial mind. And it highlights the artist’s role in culture.

    Posted May 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink
  19. Sofia said . . .

    Hi Barbara!
    Your work is really amazing! We both of us think alike about Michael.
    I am Greek and I would like to correct something. I am talking about the the final scene of the song. The edifice we see on the left is not the Pantheon, Rome. It is the Parthenon, Athens, Greece.

    from wikipedia:
    The final verse is performed by Jackson on a large sculpted torch, which the camera pans out to reveal as the Statue of Liberty. Jackson is seen singing on Lady Liberty’s torch surrounded by other famous world edifices including The Giza Sphinx, Hagia Sophia, The Parthenon, Taj Mahal, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Pyramids of Giza, Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower.

    Thank you for all your great and hard work you have in this really unique site!


    Posted December 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink
  20. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thanks for catching that, Sofia. The two names so close! Corrected now. ~B

    Posted December 27, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink
  21. Veronique said . . .

    Hello Barbra. Your blog is great! It teaches what we didn’t know about MJ. I hope other people will find this blog.

    But there are some things you said that I don’t understand. You said:

    “Next we see Michael with the group (Africans) identifying as one of them in dance as he dances an ethnic warrior dance. Can we possibly miss that message? Who is the real warrior?” What do you mean by that?

    Also, you said: “Are we climbing the ladder in Black or white?” Do you mean that society see other races better than others?

    Last but not least, you said: “So here is Michael Jackson—a black man, turning white who is defiantly dating white females and even marrying two Caucasian women”. Are you saying MJ purposely turned white and dated and married two white women to prove a point?

    Thanks Barbra.

    Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  22. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thanks for the compliment V. Your having questions is good and means mission accomplished for truly questions are the answer.

    In order to answer these questions for yourself, you have to look into American history and black history. You have to know about racism. You have to know that American blacks came from Africa, were captured (kidnapped,) held in holding centers (think Abu Ghraib- like conditions) behind huge metal doors, marched onto ships at gunpoint, chained in the bottom of boats and brought to a foreign land to serve as slaves to white people.

    You have to know about black power and black warriors (see Frederick Douglass, Black Panthers, Spike Lee’s movie “Do the Right Thing”)

    Michael Jackson could not purposely turn white. He had Vitiligo. The history of Vitiligo and how it was treated by whites is horrific itself. A black man turning white was terrifying to supremacists. Supremacists do not believe in the mixing of races. We are not post-racial in America. Far from it. The myth was that he was “bleaching his skin to look whiter” and therefore be more marketable. This was viewed as blatant arrogance by whites and betrayal of this ethnicity by blacks who also vilified him for “changing color.” He confessed that he had a disease and was mocked and called a liar. How many people are mocked and damned publicly for contracting an incurable illness?

    Black men were, and are, still feared. The reasoning is ridiculous and the stuff of myth but nonetheless, was and is, real to many. Black male sexuality and prowess and “brute” strength is part of the mythology. I am suggesting we open our eyes and wake up to the real story.

    What I am raising is questions about how Michael Jackson’s unconvention, art and deliberate challenges to and mirroring of culture through art would have been viewed and received then and how that informs the legends and legacy.

    If you have not taken a walk through “Words and Violence” may I suggest that adventure:
    There you will find the history of tabloid journalism, the cultural abuse of Michael Jackson, the shameful way the media treated him, how Lady Diana was killed in a chase by paparazzi looking for the “money shot,” a case study by someone who actually has Vitiligo, some “Black Girl Lessons” and Head-Roc talking about the myths and challenges that surround black men.

    I am not saying anything. I am asking us to ask questions; I am asking us to think critically; to not take everything we are “fed” as truth; to read between the lines; and to wake up. To grow up. And then change the world.

    Posted November 4, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

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