Inner Michael » Change the Molecules, change the World II

Change the Molecules, change the World II

You can’t have relevance and popularity and do anything with your voice or authority if you’re not actively seeking and honing your talent.  If you’re not aware of yourself as a loved and loving being and demonstrative role model, you can’t expect other people to be inspired. If you are not at heart a humanitarian and philanthropist, you won’t convince anyone. And in Michael Jackson’s world inspired by his religious upbringing, if you were caught giving or taking credit, it didn’t count; so he did it quietly. But Jackson had paparazzi trailing him everywhere. So why didn’t the world hear much about his extensive philanthopy before his death?

That’s easy: it didn’t make for “juicy” copy. It wasn’t sensational or saleable. Instead, the public got served myth after myth because it paid off and lined pockets. One of the more outrageous myths has him ordering the killing of a herd of animals for a voodoo ritual. This from a man who was a vegetarian, loved animals, traveled with them, had his own zoo and called security to come get a bug off the stage to save it from harm? Voodoo? Really? Fabrication, you think? Or a story from somebody holding an axe intent on grinding it into someone’s flesh? Do you ever wonder how many journalists were taken in by “insiders” or “confessors” wanting to inflict damage out of insult and retaliation? It’s still happening. Ignorance or malingering?

Part of the problem with the observers and critics in the case of “Michael Jackson” was their own prejudice about what an artist is supposed to do and be. Part is unconscious racism. Black artists were supposed to stay in their own corner and appeal to their own kind. Remember that MTV refused to air Michael’s videos, the Grammy Awards first snubbed him and white parents worried about their teenage girls’ affections and fantasies for a black man. As a solo artist, he broke free from that assigned corner and became a crossover artist. He broke rules. Anyone who deviates from convention pays a price. Challenge convention to change it and there’s hell to pay.

Jackson was someone caught being “daring while black.” African Americans will completely understand that; whites can only imagine what it means. He was acceptable “dancing while black” because tap and dance came from minstrel shows where dancers were mocked with blackface and comedy or recruited to dance on command for white amusement and entertainment- just another form of slavery. Song and dance was acceptable and entertaining to the white audience but “dreaming big while black,” daring to challenge convention, and being crossover “sexy while black” was unforgivable.

So, what did Jackson do? Instead of putting his head down and lowering his eyes, he zipped his zipper on camera and then grabbed his crotch.

Oh boy Mr. Spock, you naughty alien, we’re in deep space now.

Even those of us among the Anglos who think we’re forward thinking, cool to the melting pot, ethnicity and inclusion, find ourselves “being tolerant” (here we go again) on a bad day and unexpectedly visiting old stereotypes long lain unconscious on a good one: think: ‘black man in a hoodie at night.’ If you think we’re past that mentality, think: ‘Trayvon Martin.’

Now travel back in time to Michael’s “coronation” at Motown 25 and notice the contrast. Motown was all about groups and black men not standing out. (Think about it.) Black people (especially men) weren’t supposed to stand out from among their kind. Dancing and harmony and being asexual was OK but start owning the spotlight or stage as artists and becoming panoptically sexy and the dominant culture begins to sit up, take notice and frown. Now let one of those men step forward, become an expert at their craft and start “shining while black” or become “stunning while black” and you understand “bold” and “courageous.” But daring to be “sexy while black”- that was revolution. Here come the cultural militia.

How many black critics had a voice or platform then? How many wrote about Jackson’s work then? Name one. Is it possible that racism informed opinions about Michael Jackson? Is the pope… oh never mind. The stereotypical narrative about black people made them uneducated, simple, uncultured and too coarse for polite society. Sophistication belonged to another race. And the myths about blacks, particularly black male sexuality, were deeply entrenched and darkly threatening to the white male who at one time considered black men little more than brutes unable to control their sexual impulses toward white women. Jackson definitely offended a generation of mature white men.

Contemporary and outspoken artist, painter and author of a modern trilogy about inspired art Philip Rubinov Jacobson has this to say about art in the community and eye of the beholder:

“When the mob governs, man is ruled by ignorance; when the church governs he is ruled by superstitious and dogmatic regulations; and when the state governs he is ruled by fear. Before men can live together in harmony and understanding, ignorance must be transmuted into wisdom, superstition into an illumined all-inclusive faith and fear into love.”

Speaking of symbolism and knowledge in art and its radical truths about what’s invisible behind the visible, Jacobson also says:

“For centuries artists have, unconsciously, and on occasion consciously, been on the path of redeeming the image [back to its righful respectful place among all art.] This redemption, then is at the heart of integral artists who are conscious of their intention; each in their own way, and are not only redeeming the image but using the power it always had through an ‘unconcealment.’ Their intention is in realigning the soul of humanity ; inspiring us all to turn toward the highest forms of living– an integrated and communal life of mutual awareness, love and respect for all sentient beings and the place we inhabit.”

Jackson’s work, his life and even his body was art. His evolving face and changing color, although by default via Vitiligo, was art. So many critics missed the whole point and writers missed Jackson completely. One has to wonder if in the eye of so many observers, unconsciously or not, Jackson’s race and color informed not just their observations but expectations. A black man turning white is an ancient threat to established order and culture; Vitiligo terrified slave owners. Color is order especially in “a country built on genocide of one race and the kidnapping of another.” (Stokely Carmichael) If Jackson had been white would he have received the same kind of treatment– essentially dismissal?

Race also changes IQ and intelligence in the eye of the beholder. That prejudice too, informed the opinions of Jackson and his work. Black people weren’t supposed to be intelligent. They were little more than simpletons to the elite. Even now there are those cannot allow themselves to see the genius in his work. The soft voice and quiet demeanor fooled them and lulled them into the archetype of the “fool” who bumbles along stumbling along the path barely able to maintain a composure. Jackson called himself an artist because he was one. But others insisted on “entertainer” or the simple ‘pop star’ and that hardly describes his body of work and can in fact, set the teeth on edge of another artist who is an observer without prejudice. And the ever echoing “self proclaimed king of pop” is another way to say… ‘but not real royalty you understand; he was black and a simpleton, you know’; a king must be white, you understand.’ They then point to Elvis Presley who was white but learned everything about his music from blacks and borrowing theirs. Then Jackson dares to begin turning white. Now comes the vulture mentality seizing on the most “obvious” assumption– the “self loathing black man” who secretly wants to be white but not really so secretly as he is becoming white as the beholders watch. (Even a pulitzer prize winning author made this “self loathing” assumption.) To keep the racism unconsious, it was important to call him a liar when he said he couldn’t help his skin changes, that it was a disease. He also said in a loud and clear public way that he knew who he was and he was proud of being black. He was ignored. When they came after him, he persevered; when they criticized his music, he persevered. When they censored his music, he took to the streets in protest.

He knew. He felt. He understood.

The evidence is in his work that the superficial gazers see essentially as carnival and simple amusement and shallow merriment. The hilarity at his expense came easy. They barked about him as carnival barkers are accustomed to doing, thus revealing their own lack of depth and their own racial and cultural jaundice. But universities, higher educational institutions, art schools and cultural centers are catching on with “Michael Jackson” courses popping up everywhere.

The body of work by the 21st century’s most revolutionary and significant artist is getting another look by those most likely to truly understand him.

“When we awaken to the evolutionary impulse, as the urge toward higher creativity, it becomes apparent to us that the energy that is driving the process as a whole is inherently spiritual or divine. Spirit created and is creating the universe. What is this ceaseless creative striving in matter, nature, and culture? And where does it come from? What is it that mysteriously compels the universe to exist, life to emerge, and mind to appear? That which compels this complex and singular process to exist and develop is Spirit as the creative impulse. And when we feel that energy surging through our own bodies and minds, we find our purpose in being here, as ourselves, in the world, so we can consciously create the future as an agent of that impulse itself.

It is my firm conviction that Spirit as the Uncreated, Unborn, Unmanifest, timeless Ground of Being “chose” to create the universe. How do I know this? Because from our vantage point in the 21st Century, we can look back and see where we all came from, which is no-thing whatsoever. God or absolute Spirit must have wanted to do something after doing absolutely no-thing whatsoever for eternity. That’s why, when we experience the creative impulse in the universe vibrating and pulsating in our bodies and minds, we experience a powerful sense of purposefulness. When you awaken to evolution, you awaken to a profound sense of directionality that is inherent in the life force, that is inherent in existence itself. At the lower levels, the purpose of existence is to survive. At the highest levels, the purpose of existence is to create. God or Spirit as manifestation is the felt desire to create and give rise to that which has never existed before. ~Andrew Cohen, Author, Spiritual Teacher

Amen to that.


  1. Susan T said . . .

    “When you awaken to evolution, you awaken to a profound sense of directionality that is inherent in the life force, that is inherent in existence itself. At the lower levels, the purpose of existence is to survive. At the highest levels, the purpose of existence is to create. God or Spirit as manifestation is the felt desire to create and give rise to that which has never existed before.” ~Andrew Cohen, Author, Spiritual Teacher

    A second Amen!

    Thanks, Reverend Barbara. I hope good health has returned to you.

    Posted February 19, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink
  2. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Yes, the profound sense of “directionality.” Indeed. I love Andrew Cohen- next stop enlightenment “Enlightenext.”.
    Michael “knew” and followed that directionality. Once it taps your shoulder, there is no going back, there is no detour, there are no off road trips.
    Sometimes it’s not a simple tap; sometimes it grabs you and drags you kicking and screaming into a foreign land of art and love in service to the world.

    Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

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