Inner Michael » Part 8 of 8 Black or White:The Final Word

Part 8 of 8 Black or White:The Final Word


It took more than the promised three parts to tell the full story of the Black or White short film by Michael Jackson. It is impossible to grasp the significance of Michael’s work in this video without the historical context. And it’s much less rich without knowing about shapeshifting, the panther as totem and the way of the shaman. Michael Jackson was a shaman of rare form; of that I am sure. Did he know? Interesting question, that. Shamanic references and themes can be found throughout his work in films.

In Ghost his shamanism and some shamanic techniques appear that are only known to practicing shamans. And his knowledge of Siddhis of the Hindu tradition is evident as well. Just how far did the knowledge of this man reach? Well, he reputedly had 10,000 books in his library at Neverland and friends said that when they spent time with him, Michael had several books lined up in a row that were bookmarked and he was reading all of them at the same time.

As time goes on, I think we may find out more about the genius of Michael Joseph Jackson—I intend to continue exploring the genius of this prolific and relevant iconic artist. When you understand that Michael was first an artist who thought on other levels, then a genius, and an actor who happened to sing and be and entertainer, you understand the man and his work on a new and surprising as well as deep level that is as intriguing as it is stunning. Michael was a planetary messenger.

He often said he was “sent forth” and that all of us are too. It’s a reference to life mission; and his was big. Historically Michael knew too where he fit into the culture and society—and for the most part he didn’t. I have learned from Michael that he never does anything without putting a lot of thought into it. I also learned that he loved mischief and gags and was familiar with tongue-in-cheek humor. It looks as if he delighted in hiding things in plain sight and was a master of double entendre with not just words, but images. We may be discovering and decoding Michael Jackson for a long time to come.

When I looked closely at the year that Black or White was released, it was a significant year in the civil rights movement. Growing up in America’s first black family and dead center in the civil rights struggle, Michael would have known what the culture could and could not assimilate and what it could or could not withstand. Some messages would have to be couched in code. And as he grew older and understood the power at his command and his position and relevance in the culture, Michael would have become more reflective and thoughtful about his singular contribution to his race, his species and his world—all of which he took very personally and seriously.

Since Michael studied magic and metaphysics, it may be safe to assume he stumbled upon shamanism or had at least a glancing relationship with it. Just how much Michael knew early in life is evidenced by his writing and directing of Can You Feel It while he was still a youth and with his brothers, the Jackson Five. The film has rich symbolism and deep metaphysical significance. Where did Michael’s affinity for shapeshifting come from? One forms that kind of allegiance when it’s in the bones. Was he born with it? Genius in the genes? Destiny in the DNA?

One theory has Michael a reincarnation of Mozart and even looks at the parallels of their lives. Another theory presumes a previous incarnation with a former appearance perhaps in the Valley of the Kings. Could he have been Tutankhamen or Akhenaton revisited? All were certainly Kings and mavericks. That might explain Michael’s affinity for Egypt and the Remember the Time video. Christians don’t normally ascribe to the possibility of reincarnation despite the fact that three fourths of the world’s population believes in it and that it was once a part of the Christian doctrines. Yes, early Christians accepted reincarnation because it was part of the Christian doctrines removed in 553 A.D. by Pope Vigilius at Constantinople and at the behest of Emperor Justinian, or more accurately—his wife. And I have wondered at a note in Michael’s handwriting which I am not able to locate now, that seems to be addressed to a female and calls her Ankhesenamun. She was King Tut’s wife. While no one can say for sure, it is interesting to dabble in the possibilities of life before this one.

In this incarnation, however, Michael is a covert freedom fighter. He is every bit as relevant as Dr. Martin Luther King and just as prolific if not more so because he lived longer. But he goes unrecognized by the culture as wielding that kind of influence. But wield he did. He knew it; and he made use of his charisma and station in life to push the race forward. The Divine Blueprint, it appears, was very real to Michael and he saw his life mission as inextricably linked to it. In those days, who could you tell? Who might you talk to about glimpsing your destiny as affecting hundreds of millions and why that might be true? I even suspect that he knew that someday, someone would recognize his place and would chronicle his journey. The clues he left behind are as obvious as the work itself.

It wasn’t fair to Michael, and certainly not to the world, to hamstring not just a prolific humanitarian but someone who championed the world and its inequities and social ills and established himself as a global steward before anybody understood what that meant and long before it was popular.

Michael was an empath and a romantic whose greatest vulnerability was not being able to project worse case scenarios and public response to whatever he chose to do. Things that were just a given or logical to him were not to people in general because no one could match his experience; there was no one like him and no life path similar to his.  Had he been as bold in private as he was on stage, an eloquent orator or someone with public relations savvy, he might not have been so beaten up. He was an easy target because he was so elusive, so high up on the top floor of that “ivory tower” become prison of his life by virtue of his fame. He was soft spoken, androgynous, mysterious, mythical, a genius and visionary and there was no category by which to define him, no pigeonhole to put him.

Anathema to the proverbial “rock star,” he didn’t indiscriminately use drugs, drink alcohol or bed women. Michael, quite literally couldn’t defend himself because he didn’t have the skill and wasn’t savvy in  the ways of the world, having had little exposure to the real cynical world and even less interest in it or residing there. And those around him hired for that task were more concerned about justifying and retaining their own positions that in defending Michael’s honor. And some stains, when use to taint, are never washed clean. The Achilles tendon is the hardest to heal once it has been severed.

Calling someone, especially oneself “misunderstood” although it may be true is perceived as a cop out by the cynical and that includes most of the population. And who ever heard of a rock star who preaches healing and saving people? Or a rock star who tours hospitals ministering to sick or dying kids in his free time? “There goes Michael Jackson again trying to save the world” was the cynical outcry every time he moved forward on a new mission.

Michael Jackson was also a stage performer and actor; he played a role and was so convincing that people forgot it was a role and instead made it personal to Michael. Michael grew up on television and played countless characters in countless skits and went on to star as a movie character. Later, when depicting a healer/savior figure by role modeling it in a skit on stage, people accused him of presenting himself as a messiah. The message of “this is who we all should be—embracing the children and embracing our race as our own healer and benefactor,” was missed. The world simply wasn’t ready.

The world that didn’t understand him laughed at him; the world that was threatened by him sought to destroy him.

Was he a threat to the society and social order of his day? I imagine that the Jackson Five were being watched closely by some especially after their song Man of War was released in 1977. The song says “instead of war why don’t you study peace?” That line of the lyrics is a direct reference to Peter Paul and Mary’s Freedom Medley which has the line “Ain’t gonna study war no more,” and “We shall overcome.” Peter Paul and Mary held the top three albums the week President John Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1962.

If the FBI was watching the Black Panthers and John Lennon—all peace and freedom fighters despite how history treats them. And they had to be watching Michael. He was too powerful not to watch and had too much impact on youth and the culture to not be observed. The fact that Michael was music’s darling for so long until his Black or White was released, is of note. They even forgave him the leather wearing tough guy image in Bad. Bad, it seems was not seen as political; at least not threateningly political. But Black or White is unmistakable in its violence and political statement to the culturally attuned. Until its release in 1991, Michael was accepted as a force in the music scene, but not necessarily a threat.

Black or White changed all that. It was powerful and evocative and just a bit arrogant. It clearly said “I am powerful; I am a voice and a presence, now deal with me!” Black or White was released in the fall of 1991 and the first charges of impropriety with children surfaced late spring of 1993, little more than a year later.

And the label and accusations have stuck like Velcro despite his summary acquittal—on fourteen counts of violating the law. How in the world does that happen? And why? Well, I think the reason, the motivation, the motive and the license is all recorded for the whole world to see; for me, it’s all there in plain black and white.


  1. Stella said . . .

    Thank you, Rev. Kaufmann, for having taken us on this stunning journey. I checked this site every day in anticipation of the next chapter. In sharing your knowledge and talent you added many aspects to my view of Michael’s art and nourished my hope for him being recognized. Best wishes.

    Posted May 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Docas said . . .

    Yes, I agree, Michael was a threat to so many people. I also agree with your statement regarding rock star: “What rock star preaches about healing and saving people?” Michael did not fit any category so therefore people saw him as a threat. Whether people liked him or not, the world could not keep their eyes off Michael because of his out of this world talent. Finally, I agree there’s still more lessons and exploration to come into view about Michael Jackson.

    Posted May 12, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink
  3. Robbie M said . . .

    Oh he knew someone would recognise his place and chronicle his journey. I`m drawn back to the lyrics of “History” again. The first verse states one day you will see his place in world history. He dares to be recognised. I truly believe you are that someone, for the work you are doing for us and for Michael’s legacy is incredible. Long may this journey continue. Thank you. Love and blessings from Scotland.

    Posted May 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink
  4. Amanda said . . .

    Reverend K,

    I too keep checking your site for the next post. Some comments about this latest –

    Martin Scorsese, someone who had worked with Michael and directed the “Bad” short film, had also called him ‘shamanistic.’ And how does the dictionary define shamanism? As “a person who acts as an intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic to cure illness, foretell the future …”

    I really appreciate the line you wrote that he is as relevant as Martin Luther King. But of course, that kind of credit largely does not come Michael’s way. MJ was impacting the culture and helping change the world since the tender age of ten , through the pioneering success of the Jackson 5. His gigantic crossover mainstream success as an adult artist was unprecedented and hard won for sure. He continued making numerous nods to his heritage throughout his career. His continued denigration is shocking also because the Jacksons with the huge careers of the J5, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson, are music royalty and they really are like the First black family of the US.

    The entertainment world has a profound effect on shaping society and culture. Music in particular because it is so universally visceral in its effect is a powerful medium. Michael, the musical magician was determined to be a responsible steward of the platform he possessed. Yes he is very unique, because I can’t think of another musician of prominence who has so directly given out messages in their music. He admitted that he wanted to be a force for change and he asked us to be that change too. And often he was not subtle about it. After 1991’s Black or White, was the 1993 Superbowl with MJ’s performance including the Heal the World segement (which involved many members of the audience who flashed the colored cards in chorus). That was the most widely watched halftime Superbowl performance..

    He did not fit into any box, he defied being confined or boxed in by racial, gender, societal or creative boundaries. That would take courage and integrity, to be true to himself, his vision and to using his art as a medium for conveying truths. All at once, as a mighty tornado in the garb of rock star, he pushed so many boundaries and the retaliation came strong and swift.

    Lastly, on the net, I too had seen the letter purportedly written by MJ mentioning his wife Ankhesenamen. Perhaps Ankhesenamen was a code name he was using for this some one special ?

    Reverend K, I love immersing myself at InnerMichael because it’s like experiencing the brilliance that is Michael through words. And you don’t flinch from making observations and acknowledgements regarding Michael and what was done to him. Thank you for providing the subtext and the context.

    I hope you will keep writing and shining a light on different facets of this dazzling diamond. Will await the resulting reflections. May I suggest that your essays here eventually be compiled into a book, so that they always remain available?

    I know that “Can you feel it” is possibly next on your radar for writing about. Great! In addition to that song, could I add the following also for possible consideration, (if only a few of them):

    1. Stranger in Moscow
    2. They Don’t Care about Us
    3. Little Susie
    4. Cry
    5. Jam
    6. Smooth Criminal

    And as a longer wishlist, perhaps from among these too :

    7. Heartbreak Hotel
    8. Thriller
    9. Wanna Be Startin’ Something
    10. Remember the time
    11. Scream
    12. You Rock My World
    13. The Lost Children..

    With love and respect.

    Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Permalink
  5. Emmie said . . .

    He’s the world’s biggest selling recording artist with too much of a mark on world culture for his true place in history to not get recognized. Many people know his true standing instinctively. So while on the one hand the hits to him continue, on the other he is being widely remembered with all manner of tributes from different parts of the world. It’s up to those who see to accurately chronicle the history he made. Gratitude to Rev. Kaufmann for being among those to get the ball rolling.

    Posted May 13, 2011 at 12:09 am | Permalink
  6. Dalia said . . .

    Barbara: Which excuse or pretext can be used by a teenager for going to ask his e-mail to a principal and to a teacher of her English class?

    Posted May 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
  7. Amanda said . . .


    To the list above of MJ songs I suggested for examination, I wish to add “Leave Me Alone” too, written in response to tabloid stories and media reports which had started appearing from the time of his “Bad” album itself. It’s when he started getting the label of “weird”. In 1993’s interview with Oprah, he had attempted to set the record straight on many of these myths which were already in circulation. Thank you.

    Posted May 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
  8. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Dalia, A student who has learned to admire Michael is feeling more than just his music. They are attracted for a reason. When told that a paper or presentation is inappropriate because it is “Michael Jackson: is crushing to a young person. And it’s unfair to Michael and his memory and legacy, as well as violating the principles in the Constitution of the United States and may violate them elsewhere. Michael was found not guilty– in a democracy.

    There are people who have successfully educated teachers and schools and prinicipals about who Michael Jackson really was. That is why Gardner School uncovered his name. There are people doing Michael projects in schools as we speak and they know how to approach this judiciously and diplomatically- which is the way to change hearts because anger and lashing out does not. If there is such a situation, the email address is not necessary. The actual physical address and the school address would work and the “how to” and the actual contact can be handed off to those with a successful track record of doing this kind of work.

    Posted May 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink
  9. Susan Trout said . . .

    Reverend Barbara, after reading your series on Black or White, not only do I have a whole new understanding of who Michael Jackson really is, I am convinced that he’s unquestionably metaphysical, a shaman, a “bringer of the dawn.”

    If you understand metaphysics at all, watching Can You Feel it will certainly convince you that Michael Jackson is everything you have discovered and shared with us. Fascinating and inspiring work!

    I knew this inexplicable attraction I have to him after his departure from Earth was meant to happen. I think we all “feel it” and know we are now part of something far greater than we could have ever have conceived on our own.

    Reverend Barbara, you MUST write his story based on your own unique and highly intuitive perspective. I think he “chose” you! Thank you so much!

    Posted May 14, 2011 at 12:26 am | Permalink
  10. Angela said . . .

    Hi Barbara. I’d like to add a little historical note about the reference in Man of War by the J5. The “study war no more” lyric originates in a gospel song called Down by the Riverside (a.k.a. Ain’t Gonna Study War No More). It goes back to the time of slavery, when field slaves would sing it while working. The lyrics are available on the Internet, although since it’s part of the oral folk tradition, the words were not always exactly the same every time it was sung. Thank you for this excellent site.

    Posted May 14, 2011 at 6:03 am | Permalink
  11. Dalia said . . .

    3400 years ago the Pharaoh Akhenaten gave the following decree that made ​​the days of his reign were numbered: “Not only think, but I demand that from now on we are all equal, and there is no master or slave, there and ownership of man by man, no poor or rich, all share the bread, the joy and sadness. That told me my God and so I say to you, my people, who today are free to me, before you, before God and eternity” … These thoughts even more righteous that have not been welcome at any time of the story as there are many interests mainly by human ambition. I liked the comparison you did with that character that is so wonderful Akhenaten and Michael. Thanks Barbara! have I told you I love you?

    Posted May 14, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink
  12. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    You’re welcome. Yes, this song goes way back. And its history is very rich. In the 1900s a colorful character named “Leadbelly,” an African American blues, gospel and folk singer performed it on the 12 string guitar that became his signature instrument. He wrote lyrics about Jack Johnson who was denied passage on a ship because he was black- the song was called “Titanic.” You may remember that Jack Johnson was the heavyweight fighter that Micahel so admired whom was persecuted and prosecuted under the Mann Act which later Thomas Sneddon tried to use against Michael. Six degrees of separation. It was performed by other greats over the years including Mahalia Jackaon, Pete Seeger and others.

    Posted May 14, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink
  13. Magda said . . .

    Extraordinary article about the Black and White. Thanks so much for everything.

    Posted May 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink
  14. Joyce said . . .

    Thank you so much Rev. Barbara for this entire series. I have learned so much through your incredible interpretation of not only the song “Black or White” but also the amazing insight and study of this truly amazing man, Michael Jackson. I decided to save my comment until I had read the entire series. You have inspired me to consider many different ideas through this thought provoking study. Michael was most certainly a messenger. He was a highly intelligent, amazingly talented and empathic being. He deeply felt all the pain of all of humanity and dedicated his talents and his genius to delivering his message and accomplishing his mission. That message and mission is what has a hold on so many of us now. Michael’s spirit remains alive through all of us and his mission continues.
    I also want to thank you for the notice regarding Joe Vogel’s interview on Catherine Gross’s Blog Talk show yesterday. It was wonderful. There were so many great questions and discussions. I am convinced that change is coming. The media’s constant lies and misinformation perpetrated against Michael are beginning to be questioned by more and more people. Truth is being demanded and thanks to people like you, Mr. Vogel, Seven, and so many others who are dedicated to providing a forum for the truth, the real Michael Jackson is being discovered. I completely agree with Susan Trout’s comment that we all “feel it” and know we are a part of something far greater than anything we could have ever imagined!

    Posted May 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  15. Jan said . . .

    Masterful synopsis, as always. Remarkable the things he hid in plain sight. Thanks for focusing your enlightening laser beam on them. The Akhenaton and Ankhesenamun references are very perceptive. I would love to read or see the note you refer to.

    Posted May 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
  16. Sue Springer said . . .

    Thank you Rev. B. for this wonderful series. There will come a day when the depth and breadth of his gifts to the world will be recognized by the world, perhaps not in the remainder of my lifetime, but the day will come. And your loving studies of the man and his work will be paramount in bringing about that recognition. I know it in my heart — “feel it” in my soul. Thank you for loving us and giving us this gift. Love and peace, sue.

    Posted May 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
  17. Suvie said . . .

    Simply wonderful! I even suspect that he knew that someday, someone would recognize his place and would chronicle his journey. Apart from the codes in his work, I suspect he loved shooting videos so much was also because he knew that they will be the ultimate proof of who he really was… isn’t it?

    Posted May 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Permalink
  18. Kim said . . .

    Absolutely wonderful Rev. Barbara. I’ve been reading through the various posts for months; however, this series on Black or White really taught me alot about Michael on so many different levels. I am truly grateful that I found my way here to Inner Michael and that you keep writing such wonderful, inspiring and insightful articles. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Posted May 26, 2011 at 2:15 am | Permalink
  19. souldreamer7 said . . .

    This sounds beauitfully familar Love Souldreamer7

    Posted June 25, 2011 at 3:02 am | Permalink
  20. vero said . . .

    Just want to add that the jaguar in Mayan culture was seen as an intermediary between the living and the dead –like Hermes in the Greek world. Now that MJ is gone–this seems significant–we are the living and we are communicating with him, although he is in another world now!

    Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:11 am | Permalink
  21. Caro Attwell said . . .

    I have just discovered this wonderful site through the MJ fan club blog, and I am absolutely bowled over by it. Have read all the articles before comment, and at the end of it, all I can say is WOW. I am also into metaphysics and all things pertaining, and I am sure that this wonderful being – MJ – had a very real mission. I only came to him after he had died unfortunately, having seen This Is It, and now 2 years later I am as obsessed as ever! He has touched millions already, and folks like you and Joe Vogel and Willa Stillwater can only reach millions more. I love your idea of “Michaeling” and I do it all the time to spread his L.O.V.E. Thank you so much – am going in again to read Ghosts. Please keep up the good work. Caro from Cape Town, South Africa

    Posted April 30, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink
  22. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Welcome Caro, Thanks for your kudos; wish you had been here earlier to heal with us- may have found the messages very healing in their grief. Glad you’re IM “family” noiw. My story is similar to yours. In fact, our story is echoed across this globe. Many awakened with Michael’s death. Women especially; perhaps we are to bring the feminine back into balance and teach the world compassion? Thanks for writing and keep the faith in your part of the world. Namaste` ~Barbara

    Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  23. souldreamer7 said . . .

    I see it all natural, well… with help from Michael & this decode. It was natural. I began to preach against racism fast, not that I was a racist, I just starting telling people forth right “look…racism is not cool.” and still do and always will.

    a black cat told me this and then some.

    Blessings, Love & Light…

    Posted November 28, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
  24. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Welcome to the panther club!

    Posted November 29, 2013 at 2:06 am | Permalink
  25. souldreamer7 said . . .

    Thank you! I felt the racism message part all along since July-August 2009. I knew it was apart of ‘the message.’ It was part of my purpose to start letting people know racism is from the long past & this is now and it’s about time ‘you’ open your mind..

    And I will speak my mind to the biggest bigot & the most ignorant… They tell a racist ‘joke’ I call it for what it is… they say ‘insert’ anything racist, I’m going to speak my mind about it as fairly, honest and open minded as possible, to try and heal a bigot and/or ignorant mind, heart, soul. Yes, I needed to post this knowledge I have L-earned here, I just didn’t realize this was a separate section on the site now… I’ve read this before, I guess I was not ready to put it down in words yet. The outcome for me, I feel blessed.

    There’s more decoding for me. A lot of messages to deliver.
    Thanks so much for everything!

    Posted November 30, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink
  26. souldreamer7 said . . .

    Also, maybe I will see my teacher again.. then again, I most likely have a lot more to learn. hehee

    Love, Light & Blessings…

    Posted November 30, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink
  27. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Racism can be healed. You will like this story… “A Radical Compassion” at The Charter for Compassion:

    Posted November 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
  28. souldreamer7 said . . .

    Thank You!
    I realize that standing up against racism is not an easy thing.
    I read the story and clicked the link. I have that co-exist logo already, I found it because I was drawn to it. This looks like something that perhaps I could help with, I believe in this – coexist foundation.

    Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  29. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Actually you are referring to the Charter for Compassion. You can help! Sign the Charter and spread the word!

    Posted November 30, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  30. souldreamer7 said . . .

    Yes, I am, I mean the Charter Compassion Yes… I just like the phrase co exsist as well as I found they have an foundation too, and hey, maybe everyone could join together for the greater good.
    Thanks for linking me to the Charter Compassion. I found the “Peace Flag” section I’m looking into that part of Charter Compassion.

    Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

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