Dear Hollywood: Michael Jackson Was Black (and Proud)

Originally published on 1/29/16 at:



The casting of a white man as Michael Jackson in a TV series set in 2001 is more than unnerving. It is actually a complete contradiction of who MJ was in 2001 and throughout his life. The year 2001 was a year, that if you look and listen to Jackson himself, he was nothing but a black man ringing the alarm about racism in the music industry. The industry was shaken by his outing of racist practices pertaining to black artists and, in a way, retaliated with MJ once again being portrayed as a druggie whose accusations were the rantings indicative of an addict and by 2003, an accused child molester. The latter, if you research the charges, the district attorney’s office, the witnesses and the testimony of others, was nothing more than an aberration of his character and a clear attempt to permanently tarnish his legacy. It was, if you will, the beginning of a very tragic ending. Still, it wasn’t the whole picture.

In July of 2001, Jackson spoke to an audience at a conference sponsored by Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. He was blatant in telling his truth about the racism that he and other black artists face. He told how he was viewed as a threat for having broken the records of Elvis and The Beatles. These records he not only broke, but he also bought and retained ownership of in the late 1980’s. To be honest, Michael Jackson has always been viewed as the least threatening black man in entertainment. On the surface, he was, but it was all imagery. He knew how to generate mass appeal. He was tactful in how he created his image because having the best selling record of all time was something he avowed to himself when Off The Wall did not generate the type of acknowledgment he thought it deserved. Jackson was a phenomenal talent, but he also was a very skillful businessman who, in his black skin, maneuvered the best deal ever in the history of American music when he bought into the Sony/ATV catalogs. He knew this was the reason they came after him. He knew it and he said it.

In a moment of total unfettered blackness, Michael Jackson said before the National Action Network audience, “I know my race. I just look in the mirror. I know I’m black.” It was pride, personified. It was also one of many statements Jackson had made affirming and reaffirming his position in this world as a black man.

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Dear Hollywood: Michael Jackson Was Black (and Proud)

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