I think in our rush to condemn Michael Jackson for equating whiteness with beauty and worth, we doth protest too much. Michael really is the man in the mirror. He reflected the hang ups of the black community back to us.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Final thoughts on Michael Jackson and race
written by Tami; originally published as part of an Anti-Racist Parent roundtable on Michael Jackson and race
Michael [Jackson] and race? I never thought much about Michael and race until his skin began to pale, his afro turned into a pressed and feathered shining coiffure, and his African nose began to morph into some grotesque facsimile of a European one. For this, people tsk and shake their heads at Jackson. Sell out! Self hater! We are aghast that his father ever made fun of his nose and skin. We take his tampering with his physicality to mean that he hated his blackness. Perhaps he did. But we are lying to ourselves if we think that Michael Jackson's form of self hatred is any more pronounced than that of many, many black people. Michael is unique in that he had the money to erase features that are devalued in our society—even by the oppressed communities that are most likely to possess them. Have you not heard the "you so black" teasing on the playground? Have you not heard the mocking of "soup-cooler lips" and "big ole noses?" Have you not noticed that most black women will not be caught dead in public with "nappy" hair? Have you not seen the dearth of brown-skinned women with African features prized in videos on MTV and BET or heard the praise from current pop culture icons, like Kanye West, for biracial video girls whose African features are sufficiently muted?