observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

And they been bothering him for the last 10 years

Michael Jackson and O.J.

Got into an interesting argument about Michael Jackson last night. It is amazing to me how the feelings of innocence or guilt about Michael, like OJ, are split right down racial lines. Black people (not all, but bear with me for the sake of argument) smell a conspiracy theory. White people (or better yet non ‘minorities’) see a reckless and dangerous celebrity taking advantage of minors. The sad thing is that neither side is particularly interested in the facts of the case. I think that the argument is a manifestation of the long simmering race debate that is as old as this country.

I also think Michael Jackson is two different people to these two groups. To an African American he is that cute kid that embodied the music of Motown. A living breathing post civil rights baby. A musical genius that has entertained 3-4 generations from ‘ABC’ with his brothers to the disco tinged ‘P.Y.T.’ all the way to the Floetry written ‘Butterflies.’ And he is a Black man who has become filthy rich in a country seemingly designed to regulate colored people to poverty.

When we see him on trial many of us are able to look past the lightened skin, the fake nose, and the straightened hair and see a Black man potentially getting railroaded by a judicial system that has made it standard practice to f&*^k us.

On the other side, I think ‘white’ people (what does that really mean) see a truly bizarre celebrity that as my friend said ‘should be sent to jail for the rest of his life.’ As we can look past Michael’s obvious flaws and questionable behavior he was able to look past a welfare cheating mother who sent her child over to this crazy dude’s for a sleepover. The idea that Michael may be getting hustled was not a possibility. He is getting what he deserves. He can look past the inadequacies of this judicial system. Look past the conspiracy theory. I suspect never having been the victim of an unseen hand the concept of a conspiracy theory seems like science fiction.

But what really tripped me out was that in the midst of this heated argument, the question was raised ‘Well, do you think OJ did it?’ I asked myself why the hell are you asking me about a double homicide case 9 years when we are talking about a child molestation case. Was it about celebrities? If that was the case why didn’t he ask me about Robert Blake or Martha Stewart, Mathew Broderick (anyone remember his drunk driving case) or Kid Rock? Or was it about Black (more specifically male) celebrities implicated in crimes of, or stemming from a sexual relationship. I don’t know and we had to end our convo before we could get to it. I would be fascinated to see from his perspective the link between the two.

As Frederick Douglass (I hope I have that right) said, and I paraphrase, over a 100 years ago race relations will be the number one issue facing this country. Latent or obvious racial issues cut through this siciety like a hot knife through butter.

Even with the pope there was hope that he would be of Hispanic or African descent. When a German was picked there was celebration of course, but I bet you there would have been more jubilation from Flatbush to Rio of that Chilean brother had been picked. And if an African or Latino had been picked I also bet that there would have been some grumblings in the old country. Even when it comes to God there seemed to be racial undertones.

I will say this that for my part I defend Michael and OJ for every person of color that has been wrongfully put through the system. For Diallo who can somehow be shot 41 times and not be a victim of excessive force. For Rodney King. For Geronimo Ji-Jagga Pratt. For Mumia Abu Jamal. For all the ‘enemy combatants’ who get shipped to Guantanamo and Jordan without legal representation. For every cat that has been followed in Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s for no particular reason. This system is flawed and I have felt its inefficiencies so don’t be surprised when I give the benefit of the doubt to the accused. (isn’t that a law or something?)


Blogger Bemused said...

i'm not sure about what Freddy D. said, but i know W.E.B. DuBois is famous for saying that the problem of the 20th century would be the color line...

April 20, 2005 10:07 PM


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