Michael Jackson was a Proud Black Man
Michael Jackson´s skin colour has changed due to an autoimmune disease Vitiligo. But he remained Black.
"I know my race. I just look in the mirror, I know I'm Black!"
Michael Jackson, 2002
"People have lied on me. I'm a black American and I'm proud of it, and I'm honored of it."
Michael Jackson, 1996
"Even in personal life, he was always that uncle who taught us about black history, and preaching it. And a lot of people don´t realize that."
“I´m proud of my heritage. I´m proud of it. I´m proud to be black. I´m honored to be black, and I just hope one day they will be fair in portraying me the way I really, really am….just a loving, peaceful guy wanting to make wonderful, unprecedented entertainment and songs and music and film for the world. That´s all I want to do. I´m no threat. I just want to do that. That´s what I want to do. To bring joy to the world.”
Michael Jackson in a Steve Harvey radio interview in 2002
“Even though he is ´different´, as the video (Remember the Time) seems to suggest, he is one with them. The implicit message to viewers is that racial identity is much more than skin pigmentation: it is about shared dances, songs, narratives, and histories.”
"Here you go: I’ve worked with Michael Jackson in his studio on and off for over 17 years – that covers most of the time that everyone seems to be fixating upon. Michael has vitiligo. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, along with the unhappiness it has caused him both privately and publicly. Many great artists are reserved off stage, but for Michael this was compounded by the media and public obsession over his appearance. He covered much of this up with make-up – and for many years hid behind a screen of uncomfortable and impractical panstick.
He’s tried to learn to be accepting that people don’t believe the transformation he’s made over the years, but all this ridiculous argument over it makes it incredibly hard for him. I see him a couple of times a year, usually just for a day or so, and even now, all the speculation and prying offends and upsets him. He is one of the most loving, kind and gentle souls I’ve ever met, and has possibly the most stoic and forgiving nature in the light of such awful injustice, slander and bigotry. He’s not without faults, and has to be one of the most exacting professionals I’ll ever have the fortune to work with. Most of the time, he ignores what people say, and in the last few years he’s gone past caring what people think. He isn’t on earth to justify how he looks – but the public seem to assume that he must account for the changes he made to his appearance, including those that he couldn’t control. I can tell you: I’ve been in a pool with him: before he had depigmentation therapy, he was blotchy all over. Now, he’s basically so white that he burns at even slight exposure to the sun. This was a choice he made: makeup or treatment, and having the money, he got the treatment. I don’t blame him – had I this condition, and the funds, I would have done it too.And let me tell you: when you get to know him, he’s a normal, easy-going (out of the studio!) guy, with a great sense of humour and is most definitely a BLACK man.
I posted here because he bet me ages ago that I couldn’t find a single site online that really addressed his skin colour in an even manner. I hope I’ve cleared up some of your questions."
Have you noticed how Michael Jackson tried to hide his face behid his black hair at the time when his skin became significantly lighter?
Michael Jackson: A Black Man's Dream (made by @phonchrist):
Michael's speech against racism, Sharpton's National Action Network headquarters in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, July 9, 2002:
Michael Jackson's Blackness [MJ Unmasked]
"Michael Jackson fundamentally altered the terms of the debate about African American music. He was a chocolate, cherubic-faced genius with an African American halo. He was a kid who was capable of embodying all of the high possibilities and the deep griefs that besieged the African American psyche... for America to miss that is to miss the fact that Michael Jackson argued against the very deep and profound bowels of White supremacy in the belly of American political culture... The reality is Michael Jackson's humanity is so deep, the implications and inferences of his art so monumentally and magnificently global, that nothing American television could do to besmirch his character could ever, if you will, deny the legitimate genius that he represents."
From a brilliant conversation on Tavis Smiley, with two of America's most recognized critics on Michael Jackson's cultural and social impact both globally and specificially for Black people. (30/Jun/2009)
South African iconic group Ladysmith Black Mambazo - The Moon Is Walking (End Credits) from the movie: Moonwalker by Michael Jackson:
Learn more about the group and colaboration with MJ here: www.okayplayer.com/originals/secret-history-ladysmith-black-mambazo-michael-jackson-moonwalker.html
Michael Jackson crowned as King Sani:
Black and White and Proud...
"Black or White" is a video that is filled with symbolic imagery that I am working on for Inner Michael, in an essay about the hidden messages in the film. The "Ghosts" film has a startling reference to the Klan with its burning torches and marching mobs. That illustrates the facts of being black in America—you were a target for violence at the hands of those who wanted you to “know your place” in the social hierarchy. As a black, you understood that you were considered a bottom-feeder. Michael Jackson’s aesthetic and work helped to change the minds and hearts of a generation, but not without conflict. He was both loved and hated; he received both affectionate accolades and death threats. And Michael absolutely understood that in order to keep his pulpit for social change, he needed to stay bold and controversial to sustain his relevance. His courage in music as a message, is unparalleled.
Until the 1960's, blacks being subjected to ridicule and stereotype was the cultural norm. The Black Panther Party was a political revolutionary movement that began in 1966 and lasted until 1975. It expanded to a social and cultural revolution with contemporary symbols like the closed fist. The “Afro” hairstyle became a symbol of the African American pride initiative begun by the Black Panthers, and punctuated by James Brown in “I’m Black and I’m Proud,” released in 1968. Michael publicly declared his allegiance to James Brown as the artist who influenced him most.
Michael truly did believe that the power to change the world lies silent and untapped within children; he grew up within the ‘kid power’ cultural message, and it explains his loyalty, affection and attention to children. He believed in youth. And it was in a unique time that Michael Jackson wove his magic into the social tapestry of his life and our history. Who Michael was, and what he contributed to civil rights in the social and cultural fabric, was relevant then and deserves to be celebrated today. While Dr. King said it in words and actions, Michael Jackson said it in music, lyrics and the images of film. Michael Jackson, like Martin Luther King before him, was a prolific and vocal freedom fighter.
By Rev. Barbara Kaufmann, December 24 – 2010
Reverend Barbara Kaufmann is an award winning writer, poet and author. She is a member of the Wisconsin Society of Sciences, Arts and Letters; Wisconsin Regional Writers; and Fellowship of Poets.
Black and White: how Dangerous kicked off Michael Jackson's race paradox
As the King of Pop’s skin got lighter his music became more politicised, and 1991’s overlooked album encapsulated this radical moment in music
However, in the early 1990s, the public were sceptical to say the least. Jackson first publicly revealed he had vitiligo in a widely watched 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey. “This is the situation,” he explained. “I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin. It is something I cannot help, OK? But when people make up stories that I don’t want to be what I am it hurts me … It’s a problem for me that I can’t control.” Jackson did acknowledge having plastic surgery but said he was “horrified” that people concluded that he didn’t want to be black. “I am a black American,” he declared. “I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am.”
The first few minutes of the Black or White video seemed relatively benign and consistent with the utopian calls of previous songs (Can You Feel It, We Are the World, Man in the Mirror). Jackson, adorned in contrasting black-and-white apparel, travels across the globe, fluidly adapting his dance moves to whatever culture or country he finds himself in. He acts as a kind of cosmopolitan shaman, performing alongside Africans, Native Americans, Thais, Indians and Russians, attempting, it seems, to instruct the recliner-bound White American Father (played by George Wendt) about the beauties of difference and diversity. The main portion of the video culminates with the groundbreaking “morphing sequence,” in which ebullient faces of various races seamlessly blend from one to another. The message seemed to be that we are all part of the human family – distinct but connected – regardless of cosmetic variations.
The so-called “panther dance” caused an uproar; more so, ironically, than anything put out that year by Nirvana or Guns N’ Roses. Fox, the US station that originally aired the video, was bombarded with complaints. In a front page story, Entertainment Weekly described it as “Michael Jackson’s Video Nightmare”. Eventually, relenting to pressure, Fox and MTV excised the final four minutes of the video.
The Black or White short film was no anomaly in its racial messaging. The Dangerous album, from its songs to its short films, not only highlights black talent, styles and sounds, but also acts as a kind of tribute to black culture. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the video for Remember the Time. Featuring some of the era’s most prominent black luminaries – Magic Johnson, Eddie Murphy and Iman – the video is set in ancient Egypt. In contrast to Hollywood’s stereotypical representations of African Americans as servants, Jackson presents them here as royalty.
Promised a sizable production budget, Jackson enlisted John Singleton, a young, rising black director coming off the success of Boyz N the Hood, for which he received an Oscar nomination. Jackson and Singleton’s collaboration resulted in one of the most lavish and memorable music videos of his career, highlighted by the intricate, hieroglyphic hip-hop dance sequence (choreographed by Fatima Robinson). Again, in this video, Jackson appeared whiter than ever, but the video – directed, choreographed by and featuring black talent – was a celebration of black history, art, and beauty.
The song, in fact, was produced and co-written by another young black rising star, Teddy Riley, the architect of new jack swing. Prior to Riley, Jackson had reached out to a range of other black artists and producers, including LA Reid, Babyface, Bryan Loren and LL Cool J, searching for someone with whom he could develop a new, post-Quincy Jones sound. He found what he was looking for in Riley, whose grooves contained the punch of hip-hop, the swing of jazz and the chords of the black church. Remember the Time is perhaps their best-known collaboration, with its warm organ bedrock and tight drum machine beat. It became a huge hit on black radio, and reached No 1 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop chart.
The first six tracks on Dangerous are Jackson-Riley collaborations. They sounded like nothing Jackson had done before, from the glass-shattering, horn-flavoured verve of Jam to the factory-forged, industrial funk of the title track. In place of Thriller’s pristine crossover R&B and Bad’s cinematic drama are a sound and message that are more raw, urgent and attuned to the streets. On She Drives Me Wild, the artist builds an entire song around street sounds: engines; horns; slamming doors and sirens. On several other songs Jackson integrated rap, one of the first pop artists – along with Prince – to do so.
Dangerous went on to become Jackson’s best-selling album after Thriller, shifting 7m copies in the US and more than 32m copies worldwide. Yet at the time, many viewed it as Jackson’s last desperate attempt to reclaim his throne. When Nirvana’s Nevermind replaced Dangerous at the top of the charts in the second week of January 1992, white rock critics gleefully declared the King of Pop’s reign over. It’s easy to see the symbolism of that moment. Yet Dangerous has aged well. Returning to it now, without the hype or biases that accompanied its release in the early 90s, one gets a clearer sense of its significance. Like Nevermind, it surveyed the cultural scene – and the internal anguish of its creator – in compelling ways. Moreover, it could be argued that Dangerous was just as significant to the transformation of black music (R&B/new jack swing) as Nevermind was to white music (alternative/grunge). The contemporary music scene is certainly far more indebted to Dangerous ( ie Finesse, the recent new jack-inflected single from Bruno Mars and Cardi B).
Only recently, however, have critics begun to reassess the significance of Dangerous. In a 2009 Guardian article, it is referred to as Jackson’s “true career high.” In her book on the album for Bloomsbury’s 33 ⅓ series, Susan Fast describes Dangerous as the artist’s “coming of age album”. The record, she writes, “offers Jackson on a threshold, finally inhabiting adulthood – isn’t this what so many said was missing? – and doing so through an immersion in black music that would only continue to deepen in his later work.”
That immersion continued as well in his visual work, which, in addition to Black or White and Remember the Time, showcased the elegant athleticism of basketball superstar Michael Jordan in the music video for Jam and the palpable sensuality of Naomi Campbell in the sepia-coloured short film for In the Closet. A few years later, he worked with Spike Lee on the most pointed racial salvo of his career, They Don’t Care About Us, which has been resurrected as an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Still, critics, comedians and the public alike continued to suggest Jackson was ashamed of his race. “Only in America,” went a common joke, “can a poor black boy grow up to be a rich white woman.”
Yet Jackson demonstrated that race is about more than mere pigmentation or physical features. While his skin became whiter, his work in the 1990s was never more infused with black pride, talent, inspiration and culture.
Books about black history from Michael´s home Neverland:
"Am I Invisible Because You Ignore Me?"
Man In The Mirror - Grammys 1988
"Black Man gotta make a change
The White Man gotta make a change
Red Man gotta make a change..."
Remember the Time (the short movie)
"Remember the Time adopts an African heritage as a gesture of pride and a search for fulfilment. The line ´Do you remember the time when we fell in love/ (...) when we first met?´ aska the queen to make a projection, to fantasize a liason in her heart and mind, just as the video´s context asks viewers to recall a past when black folks were not estranged from African continent or their ancestral culture. Of course, Jackson aims his fantasy nostalgia toward a broad audience to make sense for non-blacks who can relate to Africa as the cradle of all civilization: ´Do you remember how it all began?´"
Armond White, film critic in a 1992 review (taken from Joseph Vogel´s book Man in the Music)
Michael Jackson and Ancient Egypt: “Remember the Time”, Kerma, Cleopatra and Tutankhamun:
“In the short film´s storyline, Jackson acts as a sort of mysterious shaman who mesmerizes and seduces the qeen in spite of his ´outsider´ status. ´Their kiss characterizes the hyphen in African-American,´ writes Arnold White. ´Iman, the model-actress from Somalia with natural haueteur shares a rarefield delicate elegance with American-born Jackson. They look at each other in a cultural exchange between places of birth - a reunion between matriarch and exile.´
Indeed, while some try to chase and kill him for his advances, she (Iman) sees him for who he is and loves him. The extended synchronized dance scene in the song´s bridge - which incorporates elements of tribal dance and hyeroglyphic poses with more conterporary hip-hop - furtehr reinforces this idea of racial and cultural identification. Even though he is ´different´, as the video seems to suggest, he is one with them. The implicit message to viewers is that racial identity is much more than skin pigmentation: it is about shared dances, songs, narratives, and histories.”
Michael Jackson “Remembers the Time” when Blacks were Kings and Queens.
Reminiscent of one of Hollywood’s old biblical epics, Michael Jackson chose ancient Egypt as the setting for his exotic and lavish new video Remember the Time. The upbeat song entertains while the story and setting recall a time when Blacks ruled one of civilization’s greatest empires.
“Usually in big spectacles when filmmakers do ancient Egypt, they don’t show or tell the truth,” said John Singleton, who directed the seven-minute short film. Singleton, who also directed the acclaimed Boyz N the Hood, said “they don’t show the beauty of Black people. Michael wanted to do something to show us as we are–very beautiful people.”
The video features Eddie Murphy as Pharaoh Ramses, supermodel Iman as Queen Nefertiti and Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the court announcer. In the video, Nefertiti tells the pharaoh that she is bored. To entertain her, he has the announcer summon juggler and flame-thrower. But, she was not amused.
Finally, a mysterious robed figure appears, disappears and reemerges as Jackson. After he (Jackson) lightly flirts with the queen, an outraged pharaoh has his men chase him through the palace and the market. After taking dancers through well-choreographed routines, he moves through the palace and has a surprising, passionate kissing scene with the queen. Just as he is about to be cornered, he disappears again and re-emerges as a cat.
Singleton and Jackson collaborated on the theme and casting for several weeks before the video was shot in less than a week’s time during January 1992.
Singleton had been a fan of Jackson’s all his life. “I just called him up and said that if he wanted me to shoot a short film for him I’d be available to do it,” he recalled. “We talked and it so happened that the next single from the Dangerous, album, Remember the Time, was coming up and he needed a director for it. It was a collaboration deciding who could play the pharaoh, who’d be really funny because we wanted to make it entertaining. I said, ‘Why not Eddie Murphy?’ and he said ‘Yeah.’ So, Michael called up Eddie to see if he’d be down for it and he said yes. We wanted a really beautiful sister to play the queen. He said, ‘You know who I think is really beautiful?’ We looked at each other and we both said ‘Iman!’ It was like osmosis!”
Singleton said he wants the film to be seen as educational as well as entertaining. “We have a proud heritage.”
The video was choreographed by Fatima, who has done choreography for Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder and Keith Sweat. “John said he wanted the dancing to be hip hop,” she told JET. Everything is going into this hip hop area. Hip hop is sort of like aerobics. It’s fast-moving and basically from our African roots. With Michael, what we did was more technical dancing. We still made it Egyptian but still street. It’s kind of techno hop. This was a new style for Michael but he was great. He picks up steps very easily. And he had a great time. We had to rehearse five or six hours a day for two weeks but it was fun. We’re happy this is an all-Black thing.”
The single Remember the Time was written by Jackson, along with Teddy Riley and Bernard Belle. It is the follow-up single to Black or White which spent seven weeks at the top of the music charts. Overall, Jackson’s Dangerous album was at or near the top of the charts since it debut in fall of 1991.
Although no figures were released, the lavish and authentic set for the Remember the Time video reportedly cost approximately $2 million.
Singleton told JET that Jackson makes short films, not videos. Although he did a number of short films as a student at the University of Southern California, this was his first as a professional. He was also working on his second feature film Poetic Justice, a film set in South L.A. and Oakland. He called that film a “street romance, a common love story, not bourgeois folks.
Well, Michael loved to laugh, so let´s dive deep into Remember the Time with @NY_Wiseass and his awsome thread: