Michael Jackson’s Slow And Inexorable Death

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[Michael Jackson’s Passing]

Michael Jackson is dead and a lot of people think America killed him.

“All over the world loves Michael Jackson and sings his songs,” a cabbie from Mali, one of the more astute African nations, told me the day of the death of The King of Pop.

“Africans love him. They know his music to be uplifting and inspirational, but they hated what he did with his face. It was as if he was trying to cut all the African from his being. What makes this country make a successful Black man hate himself that he was so sick inside to maim himself?”

America can do that to a Black person no matter how successful you become. In the 1970s, Michael, the little pixie, with his brothers, the Jacksons, released their first album, “Got To Be There” and never looked back.

The nation watched this boy grow up from a cute little tot whizzing across the stage in his James Brown imitation on the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night, and for the longest time, Michael Jackson was Black America’s favorite mascot, more beloved than even the tragic Frankie Lymon.

MOTOWN’s Barry Gordy knew what he had in Michael and the boys from Gary, Indiana. So did the father, Joe Jackson, the ultimate stage tyrant, who reserved a particular psychological and physical abuse for the naturally shy, withdrawn tyke, Michael. Sources say he would lock Michael in a suffocating and dark closet. His father, a former boxer, would punch the boy in the face and body very hard, while pinning him to the wall or trapped in close quarters. Joe Jackson denies beating his kids with his fists, but says he “whupped” them with belts. He also teased the young singer about his “wide, ugly nose.”

Even after Michael Jackson left the group, and released Off The Wall in 1979, the grim specter of his violent childhood hung over him. Still, the following year, he swept the American Music Awards for favorite male vocalist, favorite single, and favorite album.

The spectacular success of his next album, Thriller, broke world records to sell more units than any previous artist. Everything was going good for the man-child with the jeweled glove until someone decided The King of Pop was a good mark for a scam.

There have always been whispers, rumors and gossip but no one paid them any attention. Black folk have a tendency to sometimes believe the best of their heroes regardless of their faults or defects. Think Richard Pryor or Billie Holiday or Sam Cooke. 

When the kid-sex scandal first surfaced the summer of 1993, no one wanted to even think the allegations of the 13-year-old boy were true. It was not popularly known that the accusations stemmed from a shakedown. At the time, Anthony Pellicano, Jackson’s security consultant, said the accusing child’s mother wanted $20 million for his silence.

When Attorney Johnnie Cochran, renowned trial lawyer, talked to me shortly before his 2005 death, while promoting his book, A Lawyer’s Life, he spoke about the singer’s tragic fate: “Michael Jackson is a soft-spoken, gentle soul,” he said. “But he is rich, loves to be around children, and that makes him a target for anyone wanting a quick buck. This is a money-driven society.”

Cochran was a very smart man. Police had sacks of letters accusing the singer of perversity but none of them panned out. Prosecutors even flew to the Philippines to interview one prospect. It failed to bear fruit. Cochran knew Peter Pan could never win in the courts in the white, conservative Santa Barbara, California community, so Jackson was advised to settle for $10 million with the child’s mother.        

One thing Michael Jackson underestimated the psychotic appetite of the tabloid mob when the editors decided to put him in their sights. The cute boy-singer became a circus freak right before our eyes, with bizarre antics like sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, offering a million bucks for the bones of the “Elephant Man,” walking around with a chimp or Emmanuel Lewis on his shoulder, or his plastic surgery transformation into an alabaster replica of Diana Ross.

Yes, the media wolves smelt blood. Jackson’s sister, La Toya told the press that her brother had a history of molesting young boys, going back to 1981. The rest of his family issued a weak defense of him, but the damage was done. Some in the Black community believed her. Then the California 2005 child-abuse trial surfaced against him, with him facing more than 18 years in jail on 10 child molestation charges. He was later acquitted of all charges. The prosecution wanted to make an example of him, humiliate and insult him, and the case should have been dismissed before it hit the courtroom. He left the country for the Middle East.   

“Michael Jackson never recovered from the sex trials,” attorney Tom Mesereau, the lead lawyer of the 2005 case, said. “He felt abandoned. He became an emotional wreck.”  It was all about the money. All of it. He was sacrificed for the buck.

So Michael Jackson is dead. Cartoons depicted him as a horny pedophile lurking around schoolyards. Movies made fun of his light falsetto and his Casper-like skin pallor. Idiot thug comedians joked about The King of Pop’s schoolboy fetish.

We laughed at their crass jokes and now are appalled at the tabs’ sordid “revelations” about this beige talented soul man who cried: “look at me, look at me, but please do not gawk.”

We need to support our icons better. RIP Michael. You deserve to be off the clock.

Please feel free to post your comments directly or submit them to Milton@blackstarnews.com for publication

“Speaking Truth To Empower.”

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