Michael Jackson: It don’t matter if you’re black or white, he said


by Sunny
29th June, 2009 at 1:58 pm    

But really, just because Michael Jackson said that when he was alive doesn’t mean we have to believe him right? The New York Times reports today:

Jamie Foxx, the host of the Black Entertainment Television music awards, was unequivocal on Sunday night. “We want to celebrate this black man,” Mr. Foxx said of Michael Jackson. “He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else.”

Mr. Jackson was to music what Michael Jordan was to sports and Barack Obama to politics — a towering figure with crossover appeal, even if in life some of Mr. Jackson’s black fans wondered if he was as proud of his race as his race was of him. But since his death on Thursday, many African-Americans have embraced Mr. Jackson without ambivalence. In scores of interviews across the country over the weekend, few expressed the kind of resentment some once had for his strangeness, his changing appearance, his distance from the cherubic Michael of the Jackson 5.

I can understand the sentiment behind this – Michael Jackson was the first big black icon. So naturally African Americans feel a sense of ownership. But there is a danger here isn’t there? If every black person represents or belongs to the community then you end up defending the bad (OJ, Mike Tyson) along with trying to claim the good (MJ).

This happens a lot in the UK too. For the longest time, in the national newspapers, if one Muslim or black person did something bad then it was seen as representative of the entire ‘community’. Taking that cue from the papers – the same people end up trying to police everyone and condemning anyone from their community who steps out of line as bad.

I think it’s time to kill this attitude. Even the words ‘community’ or ‘communities’ should be banned. Who says white people belong ‘to communities’? And yet you see journalists now refer to minorities as belonging to ‘communities’ instead of one community. That’s not really an improvement is it. They should use ‘families’ or refer to them as individuals.


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Filed in: British Identity,Race politics,United States






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  1. pickles

    New blog post: Michael Jackson: It don’t matter if you’re black or white, he said http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4994




  1. halima — on 29th June, 2009 at 2:08 pm  

    I don’t think it’s because Michael Jackson said it – it’s because of what he represents – the music travels, it’s music speaking in volumes …

    Finally, a MJ article, I am very pleased!

    No comment on the politics . I feel unhinged. Displaced sadness from somewhere else, no doubt.

    Interesting, though, like the sadness with the passing of Lady Diana – except this is bigger for many people around the globe.

    Comparison would be a good article ..

  2. Leon — on 29th June, 2009 at 2:16 pm  

    Even the words ‘community’ or ‘communities’ should be banned.

    Banned by whom? And enforced how?

  3. Denim Justice — on 29th June, 2009 at 2:16 pm  

    Lady Diana?
    Lady Gaga?
    Dirty Diana?

    Wasn’t she a Princess?

  4. Leon — on 29th June, 2009 at 2:17 pm  

    Interesting, though, like the sadness with the passing of Lady Diana – except this is bigger for many people around the globe.

    Comparison would be a good article ..

    I agree it’s bigger than her passing, also agree it’s about as meaningful…

  5. Boyo — on 29th June, 2009 at 2:19 pm  

    “Who says white people belong ‘to communities’?”

    The BNP. The trouble with decoupling politics from the people, along with the parallel growth of identity politics – ie, multiculturalism – has led to rather too many “communities”.

    UKIP, the English Democrats, etc are just non-racist versions of the BNP: ie, that conservative, mostly white (or at least unfashionably Patriotic like the sacked Indian postman) community that has been left behind by the big C but keeps the Daily Mail coffers full.

    And you know it’s largely YOUR bed don’t you Sunny, so may as well get comfortable. ;-)

  6. Mister Christian — on 29th June, 2009 at 2:21 pm  

    Who needs ‘community’ when you can have ‘grand narrative’ – http://moralorder.mediumisthemess.com/

  7. Denim Justice — on 29th June, 2009 at 2:21 pm  

    I’d say at least she never sullied her own image and legacy by being a child molester, or warping her face beyond recognition due to a race-based psychosis.

    I was gobsmacked the other day watching a playback of an interview he gave in the mid-1990s. He was saying the usual thing about his skin condition. But by then it was already obvious he had drastically changed the shape of his face and his nose, skin colour notwithstanding.

    I think Sunny, you’re perfectly allowed to try and draw a political lesson from the life and death of Jacko – but I’m not sure this is the right one.

  8. Sunny — on 29th June, 2009 at 2:23 pm  

    Banned by whom? And enforced how?

    I knew someone was gonna say that! I meant sylistically, not asking for an actual law :P

  9. Kulvinder — on 29th June, 2009 at 2:55 pm  

    Ah slowly it happens, just a tiny step more sunny boy, a tiny little step from ‘community’ to ‘society’ and you’re there; as a great woman once said “no such thing as society” :D

    As for Jackson i can’t hold anything against him, yes he was a freak. A proper 100% odd ball, but thats what made him interesting – its the insecurities of the rich, famous and powerful that make them more human to us.

    Trying to claim him as your own is silly enough, but the obvious irony that foxx is overlooking is jackson was never comfortable in his skin.

  10. kELvi — on 29th June, 2009 at 3:18 pm  

    Jamie Foxx disappoints – hugely. Terrible. Someone belongs to the blacks/whites/browsn etc., and is shared? Well I am not famous (never will be) but I belong to no one!

  11. Kulvinder — on 29th June, 2009 at 4:08 pm  

    Whereas, they like to portray white lower classes as criminal, benefit huggers, violent and uncultured. This is evident in many tv shows.

    I presume your name is an attempt at irony, like someone calling themselves nigger?

  12. munir — on 29th June, 2009 at 5:26 pm  

    “This happens a lot in the UK too. For the longest time, in the national newspapers, if one Muslim or black person did something bad then it was seen as representative of the entire ‘community’. Taking that cue from the papers – the same people end up trying to police everyone and condemning anyone from their community who steps out of line as bad. ”

    Very true but with regards Muslims I dont know why you used the past tense. When did we reach a point when Muslims arent held responsible even in a mild way for wrong doings other Muslims in our religion of 1.4 billion people do

  13. Leon — on 29th June, 2009 at 5:54 pm  

    I knew someone was gonna say that!

    Couldn’t resist playing the Tory ‘all Liberals want to ban everything’ stereotype. :D

  14. Boyo — on 29th June, 2009 at 7:02 pm  

    “When did we reach a point when Muslims arent held responsible even in a mild way for wrong doings other Muslims in our religion of 1.4 billion people…”

    The Islamist wants it both ways of course – when does Munir NOT claim brotherhood with Muslims in every other Muslim country? You’ll be saying Israel/ Palestine’s a little local dispute in a minute Munir.

    Of course you won’t.

  15. Shatterface — on 29th June, 2009 at 7:24 pm  

    No shortage of Black sports figures but Jesse Owens might trump Ali.

    ‘Community’ is a concept which has been overplayed and the concept of ‘community leader’ is definitely due for retirement (a rather less objectional term than ‘banning’, I think).

  16. munir — on 29th June, 2009 at 7:25 pm  

    Boyo
    “The Islamist wants it both ways of course – when does Munir NOT claim brotherhood with Muslims in every other Muslim country?”

    Probably the same reason you claim to be British without feeling that means you are responsible when a British person does an wrong action.

  17. Raven — on 29th June, 2009 at 7:53 pm  

    It’s true that to the media the death of a celebrity is a gift from heaven (no pun intended) – it provides them with ready-made drama, stories and images, and if they’re lucky, an unfolding ‘mystery’ narrative.

    Foxx et. al. are obviously caught up in the moment and I don’t blame them – I agree, how many opportunities come along to celebrate a ‘black icon’ (albeit an ultimately flawed one in this case but one who had sufficiently lots of genuinely good moments – on the other hand, how far can one separate the ‘art’ from the ‘artist’ (Glitter, anyone?), but this is too many hands, for now).

    Fact is that ‘groups’ claim public people all the time. For ‘minority’ groups it plays a part in the positive self-esteem process – it’s a human reaction and we can’t really escape that. The nature and definition of the groups concerned might change but that identification process won’t.

    I’ve referred here to how the Jackson Five provided even British-Asians in 1970s primary-school playgrounds with someone with whom to identify to some extent (certainly in the face of the mighty Osmonds) in the absence of the plethora of British-Asians in the public sphere now – it may be strange for younger ones to imagine that now but believe me there was no-one – you even had to dig deep for Biddu!

    On the ‘burden of representation’, no, of course we don’t want the ‘bad’ ones, and moreover we don’t want ‘others’ to believe they represent ‘us’ (whoever the groups in question are). The high-achieving Bobby Jindal in the USA is an example discussed before… But we can’t always pick and choose – just refute and debate subsequently, I guess.

  18. Sunny — on 29th June, 2009 at 10:12 pm  

    ahhh, chavscum – my regular troll from LC has come here now to throw baseless accusations and show himself up as a twat. And that too regularly.

  19. Denim Justice — on 29th June, 2009 at 10:19 pm  

    Chavscum: bugger off back to where you came from. I mean, that is what you tell the Muslim women in niqab down your end isn’t it? Or rather, what you wish you had the guts to say out loud.

  20. Jai — on 30th June, 2009 at 8:46 am  

    Rest in peace, Moonwalker.

  21. Jai — on 30th June, 2009 at 8:59 am  

    The media are certainly influential but they arent everything. Non white people KNOW all white people arent like that because they see and meet white people everyday (the population is 90+% white) as well as on TV (the working class for example have eastenders)

    This is simply not true of black and Muslims people- for many white people the only thing they see of them is in the papers when a bad person from those communities has committed a crime or said something bad. Thus this forms their impression.

    That’s actually spot-on, especially the first paragraph. And the contents can be extrapolated to include minorities in general, including all Asians (irrespective of their religious affiliation).

    Along with what Munir has correctly said, the problems arise when people have these stereotyped ideas about others inside their heads based on assumptions, Chinese whispers, second-hand information and whatever they may have picked up in the media. So their perceptions and actions are distorted accordingly, because they’re not necessarily based on direct first-hand experience or more neutral agenda-less sources.

    Sometimes, simply talking to people directly, basing your opinions on your experiences of them as individuals, and having normal friendly polite conversations with them about aspects of their backgrounds which you’re unsure about or just curious about, is a far more constructive and generally healthier way to go about things. Believe it or not, this is a shockingly revolutionary idea to some people out there.

  22. Boyo — on 30th June, 2009 at 12:09 pm  

    “Probably the same reason you claim to be British without feeling that means you are responsible when a British person does an wrong action.”

    Er… no, because you’re doing it again – trying to have your cake and eat it. British is a nationality, Muslim is a religion. It’s not British people in conflict with Israelis, is it. As an Islamist you place the Ummah above the nation-state, don’t you.

    Unless it doesn’t suit you.

  23. persephone — on 30th June, 2009 at 12:34 pm  

    Agree that the word community needs to go.

    The use of the word communities is used in much the same way as the phrase ‘race industry’. By referring to ‘a community’ it turns even small issues into a wider perception of that issue being linked to a wider group. As a result its use makes issues appear more prevalent, organised & less personal than referring to people as a few individuals/families.

  24. persephone — on 30th June, 2009 at 12:37 pm  

    ” few expressed the kind of resentment some once had for his strangeness, his changing appearance, his distance from the cherubic Michael of the Jackson 5.”

    Similar to when women who have had a baby forget all the pain but remember only the good parts.

    An interesting comparison would be the death of Jade Goody

  25. Ravi Naik — on 30th June, 2009 at 1:34 pm  

    I actually thought that Jamie Foxx was being gracious.

    Michael Jackson although suffering from a skin disease, went through several procedures to change his race. And it is difficult to believe that his kids are his: they look completely white.

    So, despite all of of this, Jamie says: “He belongs to us”.

  26. chairwoman — on 30th June, 2009 at 1:43 pm  

    “Similar to when women who have had a baby forget all the pain but remember only the good parts.”

    Bad analogy, Persephone (ask Demeter), it’s not that the pain isn’t remembered, it’s only spoken about between women who’ve had children, otherwise the human race would have finished a long time ago.

  27. Chris Baldwin — on 30th June, 2009 at 3:32 pm  

    I don’t really see anything wrong with what Jamie Foxx is saying here. I don’t think that this kind of attitude necessarily leads people to defend bad people just because they’re black.

  28. Sunny — on 30th June, 2009 at 9:56 pm  

    Tyson?

  29. hd — on 1st July, 2009 at 3:02 am  

    the black comedians made jokes about him and the black community made fun of him and now that he’s deceased they want to claim him as theirs…..they can have him as far as i am concerned, he was a drug addicted pedophile freak

  30. persephone — on 1st July, 2009 at 10:52 am  

    “(ask Demeter)”

    Chairwoman, excellent :-)

    As to the human race dying out I think that’s because mother (nature) ensured women have a high pain threshold to cope with it all.

  31. Ravi Naik — on 1st July, 2009 at 11:40 am  

    Bad analogy, Persephone (ask Demeter)

    People here are so cultured… It is a good thing there is wikipedia… :)

  32. Desi Italiana — on 2nd July, 2009 at 5:03 am  

    R.I.P MJ. I remember listening and grooving to his music as far as my memory goes back, from the days of crawling around in our small apartment as the Off the Wall album played in the background, to singing along with the Thriller record everyday, and watching his 1983 Grammy performance with rapt attention at the tender age of 4. No one has reached so many people around the globe the way he has. Long live MJ!

  33. Desi Italiana — on 2nd July, 2009 at 5:04 am  

    Pretty young things, repeat after me, say nah nah nah…

  34. Desi Italiana — on 2nd July, 2009 at 5:05 am  

    If they say why, why, tell ‘em that it’s human nature

  35. Desi Italiana — on 2nd July, 2009 at 5:17 am  

    “So naturally African Americans feel a sense of ownership. But there is a danger here isn’t there? If every black person represents or belongs to the community then you end up defending the bad (OJ, Mike Tyson) along with trying to claim the good (MJ).”

    What? How does this tie into what Jamie Foxx said about MJ? The only way this argument makes sense is if Jamie Foxx himself defended OJ, Mike Tyson and then claimed MJ as well.

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