Breaking News
Translate

Michael Jackson and the tragedy of blackness

By emma Okocha
The tragic loss of Michael Jackson has spawned so much that is intriguing in feelings in all media, from tabloids into the nether zones of the blogosphere.

In the interstices of gushing praise and a variegated range of misgivings, there are scary doses of the usual hateful swipes at black people driven by, without any doubt, a relentless phobia for blackness combined with other base, amoral, and irreligious effusions. Quite a few comments affirm so much in terms of how far some will go to malign black people even in the face of deepest pain and sadness and harrowing tragedy.

The good thing about all that is what they all reveal to sensitive and perspicacious people, black or white or whatever. There are members of other races whose pain exceed that of some black people, but there are also others whose reluctance to acknowledge the greatness of this black icon says so very much about how racism either hinders so much or advances quite a lot toward the goodwill humanity needs and desires for inter-racial peace on this planet.

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson

And beyond inter-racial peace, there is something in these attitudes which explains to some extent the root of the diffidence which holds back the freedom of will which black people need to get anywhere in the global race for progress with all other races.

One astute TV talking head avers that Michael Jackson’s remarkable career places him up there with a reel of white names, largely obscure to me, headed by Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra as one of the greatest performers of all time.

It is a strange double entendre, ill-disguised double-speak, which grants unequaled greatness to Michael Jackson with one hand and takes it back by placing him below those white performers.

Very clever !!! I am sorry wise man, and great talking head…I do not know who is greater than Michael Jackson with my closeness to performance studies by a little bit of education and a little bit of exposure to practice and practitioners. None of those performers could by any stretch be considered cosmo-historical.

All of them appeal  fractionally and factionally to race or nation or gender or class. Michael Jackson blew all divisions and barriers away.

The total comprehensive real deal was Michael Jackson. The very fact is that nobody has Michael Jackson’s range. I do not care from where cometh your yardstick. Innovation?

The beauty and aesthetics of the business?  The frequency of re-invention of stage magic with multifarious props and self and charisma? The enchanting and never land quality of his creations? The dimensions or the global reach of his soul power? The sturdy character of the bridges he left between generations and all races?

Come on. Nobody had or has the ability to drop some tiny pieces of emotional glycerine deep down into our souls to cause the kind of transformatory quakes which his music instantaneously generates. Whether he was in London, Tokyo, Johannesburg or Russia, he gave all music as elixir and music as something which punctures abscess for soothing relief.

The music video, Remember the Time, involving the imagined Pharoah and his queen and court says it with unmuffled eloquence if the other impeccable music video of the famous Billie Jean does not do it for you. I witnessed the Beatles and I witnessed Elvis Presley and I witnessed Frank Sinatra and so forth.

Please close the books on all those and other characters quickly, and before the sand of ignorance or spite kills you, open your ostrich heart to the most irresistible phenomenon of all times. That was what Michael Jackson is and will be for ever.

You do not have to worry in your haste to take me back or distract me with his controversial and reclusive social life and his so-called weird transformations.

That is where this write-up is headed. Michael Jackson was a product of the evils of, what you call civilization, sells to us, we who are its mal-contents. Civilization inculcates in you and me the wisdom which Paul Lawrence Dunbar defined for all of us about a hundred years ago in the simple classic poem “We Wear the Mask.”

To kill me, you do so with a smile and a meaningless apology to boot. After killing me your heart sings in secret triumph: That is the way aha aha…You like it…aha aha !!! Life remains a dreadful and exasperating  tension between wearing civilization’s mask and not wearing it… the dreadful great tug between the artificial paints of civilization and the purity of primordial essences. That is the psychological tug of war which produced the phenomenon called Michael Jackson and his various masks which many chose to ridicule in his lifetime.

Michael Jackson slept in Oxygen chambers. So? He befriended a Chimp and other animals. So? He slept with children? The last proven fiction will remain the most wicked effort to destroy the name and peace and soulful beauty of that great man. It should rest as one great collective crime that is beyond pardon.

He was found not guilty. Of all the drummed up 14 counts, he was acquitted and discharged as not guilty. But even in death so many uncouth and pathetic souls out there are not remorseful. They are not tired of sullying the name of this great soul.

Three voices at the BET awards night did it all for many of us. The voices of Jamie Foxx in a few eloquent words and that of the illustrious Joseph Jackson who lamented that Michael Jackson was not being duly honored while he was alive; and then of course, the voice of the very classy baby sister Janet Jackson who reminded us all that Michael may have been an icon to us but was family to the Jacksons.

Ain’t nothing wrong with you, Michael. Add that one too. Those voices were potent in their wisdom and insight. When we needlessly brutalize people verbally or otherwise we very often do not remember that they are flesh and blood. We are needlessly destroying somebody’s son or daughter, somebody’s brother or sister, somebody’s father or mother and so forth.

Sadly, we had to wait for little Paris Jackson to remind and teach us all that at the moving funeral appearance.
Growing up in Africa into my teen-age years, I was sleeping with my mother. I was bathing with my mother, and I enjoyed being cuddled by her as a half-man half-boy, especially when I was sick. In the eyes of the West, oh what a dreadful sin.

Were I and my sweet mother to be living in New York State today, Republican Representative, Peter King, who is not tired of calling the dead Michael Jackson a low life pervert, would probably be moving a motion for me and my mother to be put away in a safe can somewhere. But my dear Western mind, Sex never never crossed my mind.

I was too drowned in motherly charm and purest love and care for any such gutter filth like sex to cross my mind.
So thank you again Rev Al Sharpton for telling us all in bluntest boldest terms. Ain’t nothing wrong with you, Michael. There is a deadly disease we have to deal with out there.

That is a disease of the West and its civilization. The poison from that prison of fire killed you, Michael, as it is killing so many less famous millions quietly.
Everything is about SEX. What a tragedy.

Where shall we find another Aeschylus to capture our secret plaintive wails? And where shall we find enough Oedipean water to cleanse such corrosive blight? Who cares about your being in the Guinness Book of Records as the greatest celebrity philanthropist ? Very few, when the sweetest subject of our hearts and heads is SEX, SEX and more SEX. Very few, when money could be made by playing vampire over our ghostliest demeanors.

Very few, when evil gossip and hateful innuendo could trump selfish legality. God granted you the genius with which to drum it into us all that we are the world, stronger  when we are together in all our various sufferings, more resilient when we are together in all our sorrows, more sympathetic when we are together in our confessions and contrition. Lamentably and sadly, for the oases of succor, we chose for the gift of genius the desert of masochistic pain.

So dear Michael, where ever you are, perched and reclining restfully on the crescent moon as Brooke Shields so poignantly and wistfully suggested, or as multitudes among us feel; up there in heaven with the Almighty and all the saints and angels, we know today,  ever so sadly and belatedly, that there will never be any other one like you again.

Not now, not tomorrow because God grants good kings to those who appreciate good kings. We can only stare through our tears into the bleak horizon of the dissipating eddies of your great songs and dances and soul magic. That kind of magic does not visit this planet every year

. That is why we are all knocking each other down in all the shops all over the planet, gathering, stocking up on all those  precious gifts you left for us.

•Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo,  is Chair, Dept. of English, North Carolina A&T University.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.