Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Of all the media portrayals of Michael Jackson during the past few days, the one that captured his essence most for me was done by NBC News' Rehema Ellis. Ellis unabashedly addressed the rift between Michael Jackson and the American African community since his magnum opus Thriller --- something that has been widely discussed for 25 years in barber and beauty shops, pool halls, churches and around dinner tables in American African households. The clip was the most honest assessment of Jackson's roots in American African community and how he "left" the community after Thriller.
The white media orgy over Jackson's death replays Black or White and emphasizes how he drew all people together "regardless of color", as if his music, like him, had become deracinated and homogenized into an amorphous lump of rock/pop/blues/jazz/gospel that was completely disconnected from his roots as an American African. The opposite is true of course; Jackson's music is deeply embedded in the blues idiom that informs all American African music. The blues is most evident in my two favorite Jackson songs, Human Nature and Man in the Mirror where Jackson does a powerful self-reflection on how it feels to be an African man embedded in a white supremacist world.
I love Michael Jackson, always have and always will even during his obsession with plastic surgery, marrying Lisa Presley, choosing a white woman as a surrogate for his children and the silly Black and White, because I, like many other Africans knew that he was one of Ours but had drunk the kool-aid of white supremacy that ultimately took his life.
Brotha Michael, welcome home, we always loved you...