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There were interesting and highly charged breakfasts the morning after Michael Jackson died. We received the following comments which I thought I would share with you. The comments sound straight forward because the emotion of the moment is missing and we don’t know how to convey that to you, but for those of you who have had breakfast at a Bettina home I am sure you can imagine the energy in the rooms.
“The media is trying really hard to make sure Michael Jackson’s legacy will be as besmirched and ugly as possible. Would you consider that to be racist?”
“The talk all over the media is a claim that Michael Jackson was addicted to prescription drugs. Some television channels even listed drugs to which they claim he was addicted. It is my understanding that for this come-back tour he had to have insurance and that included very grueling medical exams and he passed with flying colors. I haven’t heard that from any of the media reports. If he was addicted to drugs of any kind he would not have been able to pass the insurance health exam. That has gotten lost in the media’s gang rape of Michael Jacksons’ reputation.” (That was, we believe, February, 2009)
“I didn’t notice before how all the panels on these television stations are composed of Whites only. It is beyond bizarre in 2009 to hear a White panel trashing a Black man who has achieved to the level Michael Jackson has reached. I hear these panels all the time and they haven’t bothered me before. Being White I guess a White panel seems normal. During the reporting on Michael Jacksons death with the panels giving their commentary, the realization that they are all White all the time – it was like cold water in my face. That in itself is unbelievable racism.”
“Michael Jackson, in death as in life, has been turned into a negative black stereotype. Even Barbara Walters had to comment on his style of dress. Hearing her comment on his dress style made me wonder why the style of dress one wears is so important for acceptance in this society. We dress in a Northern European style. If you go back several generations, you will see the dress we consider “normal” is handed down and changed, but you can follows its straight line inheritance from our Northern European ancestors. It is a cultural dress style from the old country. If you don’t follow that dress code and if you see yourself in any other light you are really badly trashed. I always liked to see Michael Jackson’s style. It was his style and not a slavish holding to a particular culture’s style of dress that I found refreshing – so all of these media people crapping about him for how he dressed, that is horrible. For his dress style he has been called lots of ugly names.”
“What I got out of all the media coverage was the fact that he integrated MTV and was responsible for clearing the racism out of the way so many Black artists would have a chance. I wasn’t into MTV or its music so I missed that. I’ve heard him sing and my children have all of his CD’s, but the fact that he had to break down strong and determined racial barriers didn’t hit me until I started hearing about his amazing accomplishments.”
“Michael Jackson was a good friend to many and had many very good friends. More than I will ever have in my lifetime, yet the media is constantly talking about this “lonely” man. How can a man be totally lonely with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Adams, Diana Ross, Liza Minelli and on and on and on, all of whom have clearly been there for him. Friends, not acquaintances or fellow entertainers, but honest to goodness friends. No one even mentioned the really good solid friendships he has crossing the generational and racial divide.”
“I guess our media runs in a pact – follow the leaders lead, so to speak, or read what’s on a prompter written by someone else. You are reading it not because of your journalistic skills, but because of your physical appearance. How do you expect any of these journalists to do good, accurate reporting. That isn’t what our media is about anymore.”
“I’ve heard a lot about how Michael Jackson died broke, was spiraling down and was rescued from pennylessness by a great White firm. That was an amazing thing to say of a man who owns, in partnership with Sony, the rights to music valued at over one billion dollars. I also heard how his creditors were after him and he was living in this huge mansion which was way beyond his means. That was amazing since I heard before, when there were reports about this comeback tour, that the AEG people were picking up the cost of the mansion so Michael was living large without putting out a penny. That is something this society lifts up as a sign of knowing the system and being a shrewd negotiator, except in the case of an African American who has so totally outgrown his stereotype. “
“The stories about Michael’s abusive and dysfunctional family and how Michael had no childhood are out in fairy tale land. Those stories come from the claim that his father beat him, was abusive to him and stole his childhood – why – because he insisted that his children prepare themselves to be somebody. I remember, in counterposition to that, the interviews I’ve heard from Barry Gordy who knew the family right out of Gary Indiana. In those interviews Mr. Gordy talked about how well behaved the Jackson children were – how well mannered they were – how he could work with them without having to deal with discipline problems. It also struck me, as the media almost without exception, talked about how Michael was robbed of his childhood. That is probably a true statement. But what needs to be added is how and why he was robbed of his childhood. By his father? Or by a society who consigned a very talented African American family to a 30 by 30 foot house in the industrial town of Gary, Indiana for them to become what – on welfare, problems in school, poor readers, no future beyond what society would give them? These media people talked about how he missed being involved with Little League, football, basketball, all the toys of childhood. What kind of life and particularly what kind of childhood would Michael and his siblings have had if their parents hadn’t worked hard with them to insure that their talents were developed and appreciated. What if their parents hadn’t put them on the road to having whatever they wanted in this life? What kind of childhood would Michael Jackson and his siblings have had confined to an approximately 900 square foot house with very little money and no ability to be involved in middle to upper middle class American life and society? They certainly would not have had the childhood the media claims Michael Jackson missed! So exactly what childhood did Michael Jackson miss? The drugs they could be on are far more potent than any prescription drugs – and how would they have paid for their habit?”
“How Michael Jackson’s parents raised their children is something for which they should be honored, but in a racist society they won’t be because that is not supposed to be what happens to little African American children. Michael Jackson’s parents, especially his father, saw the musical talent in his children and did everything he could – from his resources and history – to make sure they had the opportunity to express themselves and to understand how to make a substantial living for themselves. No one expected them to be perfect – except those who only accept African Americans if they are perfect……… this society will never forgive Michael Jacksons parents for having raised such beautiful children and for having prepared them so completely to overcome their Gary, Indiana beginnings and find another way through life. “
“Michael’s childhood – as a talented musician – was spent working with, in the company of, playing with Barry Gordy, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, etc. etc. etc. The childhood most kids can’t even dream of. It is amazing to look at that history, at that childhood and trash the parents.”
My conclusion: I think racism and the white anger which goes with it, are alive and well and parading around this country on all of its media outlets for the world to see. The media coverage of Michael Jackson certainly shows the jealousy and racial hatred we still harbor.
From my observation, Michael went over the top when he bought the rights to the Beetles music. From that time on he was too big and the cutting him down had to start. I’ve watched African Americans being destroyed over my entire lifetime. If you achieve greatness you will be cut down and that is now happening to Michael and has been happening for many years. You very seldom hear of his achievements, but you hear a lot of negative, racist adjectives being used to describe him. “Whacko Jacko” is the one heard most often. And its accurate. He is an African American who transcended his race and turned around to encourage the rest of us to do the same and that is a real “Whacko” idea in this society for which you pay dearly. He is being compared to Elvis Presley and Anna Nichole. I think he has more in common with Billie Holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr, and many more in that line. Do you remember or did you know about the song Billie Holiday sang – after which she was trashed big time and she couldn’t handle the trashing – “Strange Fruit” – look it up and its history.
My grandfather had the skin disease that Michael Jackson had which turned his skin from dark brown to white. I watched my grandfather for years as he changed colors. His hands went first – and they became white – not light brown nor high yellow, but white. It went up his neck and began to show in patches in his face.
I remember going to summer camp in Oklahoma and listening around the campfire as young white teenagers talked about intermarriage. If you intermarry and have children they will come out spotted. I didn’t know what they were talking about until someone elaborated and I realized they were talking about a skin disease which has nothing to do with intermarriage. Somebody – some media – some groups – some relatives had put that idea into their heads so strongly they didn’t want to and couldn’t give it up. It was a part of their identity as White and a barrier their friends and family had thrown up to keep them from intermarrying and it worked. They defended racist nonsense as though it was fact.
I heard Geraldo talk on Fox News about Michael Jackson wanting to be white. I heard others saying the same thing. Pictures were thrown up showing Michael Jacksons color change. Nothing was added about his skin problems. That would have negated the boost to White identity that many got from claiming that this hugely successful African American, who in spite of all he had accomplished simply wanted to be White. I heard about all of his plastic surgery, but no one added the other side – the fire which singed Michael Jacksons hair while he was doing a Pepsi commercial; nor of the plastic surgery he had to have after that event. No one cared! It was too good an opportunity to parade out the old racist adage – “they want to be White” than to be even handed in your news coverage. If you veer away from a very negative black stereotype you are classed under those who want to be white. And then you are badly trashed some more. The only context in which we talk about this is in the context of Black students trashing other Black students for ‘wanting to be White’ because they are studious are doing well in life, etc. The real place from which that accusation comes is never put out there for all to see. It comes from a White racist society which needs to keep its identity as White and better than and superior to in tact and this is one way of doing that.
Michael’s children will be forever trashed because they are a living reminder, which won’t go away of mixed children. And goodness me, they are mixed children who look White! Black and White all mixed up together and right out there for all to see that the mixture can produce very White looking offspring. Half-White and Half-Black children are fine as long as they look African American without any confusion. Michael’s children are a huge threat to a racist society.
Now that Michael is dead, his children won’t be left alone. They will be harrassed, insulted, talked about and they will have to find it in themselves to walk through that fire and keep close inside a clear understanding that those experiences are racist and the problem of the person putting it out not their problem. They are free and clear and represent what could be in this society if we could break free from the awfulness that envelops a whole lot of us.
I read one media persons statements about how Michael Jacksons children were going to be evicted from their big house. It was so sad to see in that writing how ugly, how jealous, how vicious and racist the writer was and how she could not escape the racism that is deep within her soul, which she clearly showed to all who read her writings.
Thank you Michael Jackson, wherever you are. You have opened the door a little wider and raised a mirror so we could all look at our reflections and think about just who we are and how we’ve become so ugly, so vicious, so unable to see the good, the love, the gifts you have given to us all. May your eternity be filled with total joy and you hear the prayers being offered up for you today, tomorrow and always from those of us who appreciate what you have done and what you have sacrificed for us all. Thank you God for the life of Michael Jackson!!!! May we remember his work, his capacity to love, the work he did relieving the world of some of its racism and thank you for his humility in a life in which he could have been the most arrogant of men.
And to Lisa Marie Pressley – since you couldn’t say in public, while Michael Jackson was alive and needed you to make those statements, that you loved Michael Jackson and he loved you which is why you married, I think it is way too late to say it now. Keep that to yourself and deal with your failings!
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