Dr Lez Henry, director of Nubeyond July 2009
‘It pains me to consider that one of the most talented members of the human family, our brother Michael Jackson, had to pass from this place looking the way he did.'
Jackson a direct decendant of the Maffa
Reflecting on the passing of one of, if not the greatest musical talent, the world has ever known Henry says ...
'I know many of you may not like to hear that but his changes in hue and hair texture always had a significance for many of us, of a similar age, as we prided ourselves on the thickness, texture and downright blackness of our "FRO" (Afro) and found it hard to come to terms with his metamorphosis.
For those who may not be aware he was a direct descendant of the chattel enslaved Africans, in America, and that factor cannot be overlooked in any mention of his life, career and premature death.
(The transatlantic slave trade, now widely recognised as the African Holocaust or Maffa, constituted one of the darkest periods in human history and was acknowledged as a crime against humanity at 2001 United Nations World Conference in Durban, south Africa. -Editors Note)
I have been watching the news reports and except for one commentator who quite rightly pointed out that as a black performer he was the first to be broadcast on MTV, and kicked open many doors for black artists, there has been no mention of race in any of the news items I have seen thus far.
Thriller - the first black video to be broadcast on MTV
The fact is it took over two years for MTV to broadcast a music video by a black performer and there are many reasons why Thriller was eventually broadcast by them, not least the fact that it was the most expensive at that time costing $500.000 dollars and lasting 13 minutes.
Why I mention this is because this was a perfect example of the innovative genius of our brother and that is why his work needs to be appreciated for what he did for black musicians worldwide.
He revolutionised so many aspects of the music industry that I cannot even begin to do our brother justice here.
Yet this is also the most tragic part for me as his increased fame and subsequent persistent self- harming is always explained away - in much the same way as it is now, on his lack of a childhood or abuse from his father etc. That may well be true to a point but how can you reconcile being lauded as the black "king of pop" when you have the awareness and constant reminders that the place within which you were born and raised hates black people?
This is the reality of what it means to exist in a white dominated world where no matter how successful you are there is pressure on you to conform to some alien standards that cannot just be swept away by the so- called experts they roll out to explain our brother's physical or psychological condition.
Jackson massacred by mainstream media
We need some honesty here in any sensible discussion we have on our brother's life, and more importantly what are the harsh lessons we can learn from his tragic death.
Fifty is not a natural age to die and yes he may have abused his body but what also needs to be considered is the way the white dominated mainstream media massacred him, like almost every other black cultural icon I can think of, at every given opportunity.
Sit back and give this some consideration as we know that the media is designed to create and destroy, build up and pull down, but whereas they are quick to give white celebrities chances galore, even when our brother was cleared of whatever charges, "nnah fi dem system" (no children, it is not ours); was he ever publicly forgiven?
His redemption was always based on people power as his global reach and subsequent fan base is unparalleled and that is why they could not destroy or replace him. With this said, I know that one of the hardest tasks I face during this sad moment is explaining to my granddaughter why they are calling Michael Jackson a black performer, looking the way he did when he passed on, because when he was her age he looked like her.'
My heartfelt thoughts go out to his family and those who truly loved our brother.
Peace and Blessings
Dr. Lez Henry - Nubeyond: Learning by Choice!
This opinion piece was first published in People With Voices.