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Michael, Black and Beautiful: A Photographic Tribute

blackgray10Awhile back, I did a very popular post called “Why I Love The Mature Face of Michael.” I think that post struck a chord with many who felt the same as me-that the mature Michael of his post-cosmetic surgery, post-vitiligo era was not the “freak” we were led to believe, but a beautiful-yes, even hot and sexy!-man.

But in embracing mature Michael, let’s not forget that there are also very valid reasons to continue to celebrate young Michael. Often, I hear people somewhat jokingly refer to the different eras of Michael as “black Michael” and “white Michael.” Of course, such labels are really meaningless, other than providing the sometimes needed reference points for the slightly less Jackson-educated who may not know to use the more politically correct terms such as “Thriller era Michael” or “Dangerous era” or “Invincible era.” To many, it’s easier to simply think in terms of “black Michael” and “white Michael.” The problem is that there was never a time when Michael wasn’t a black man. Referring to him by such distinctions as “white Michael” or “black Michael” is doing a grave injustice, as such labels give the false impression of a man who changed race. He was, in his later years, simply a black man trapped in the body of a man with a skin disease-not white, but as many who knew him have attested, actually “translucent.”

On a more metaphoric level, perhaps we could even argue that he became someone who literally transcended color and race, by becoming, in effect, “colorless.”

Still, I know there are many fans who nevertheless have a special place in their hearts for the Michael they affectionately refer to as “my Michael”-and, for many, that is the era when Michael was truly “Black and Beautiful”-in every sense of the word. This is, perhaps, especially true for those fans who remain nostalgic for the Jackson 5/Jacksons era, or even for the Victory/Thriller eras. Lastly, I have to give credit to Todd Gray, whose photos of Michael are some of the most evocative, sexy, and artistic of this era. His photos comprise a large segment of this collection, and are easily among many of my favorite MJ photos of the late 70’s and early 80’s. I would say, as far as those photographers who captured young Michael in his prime, Gray ranks among the best there ever was. I will also take this moment to highly recommend his pictorial, “Before He Was King” which features many of these beautiful and rare photos. 22020_10151365892187888_2113195502_n

So let’s take a pause to celebrate the boy and man that Michael was before vitiligo would change the course of his life, appearance, and our perception of him forever. These images are some of my personal favorites, and hopefully you all will enjoy them, too.1979-1982-83-photoshoots-Michael-Jackson-michael-jackson-14962408-640-448 I haven’t made any especial effort to arrange them chronologically or by categorization. They are, quite simply, just some of the cutest, sexiest, and stunning vintage photos of Michael as a child, teen and young adult in my collection.

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Comments: 45 Comments

45 Responses to “Michael, Black and Beautiful: A Photographic Tribute”

  1. Weekendspecial says:

    Good post overall, this needs to be talked about a lot more often in the community. There is a surprising amount of racism amongst fans; more than you think. I just want to say, I found the “Michael transcended” race to be a bit problematic. He didn’t transcend race in any way shape or form. To say that is to deny his heritage and his race.

    • Raven says:

      He did transcend race in the sense of becoming a beloved icon across all races and nationalities. That is what I meant. Perhaps I did not word it as well as I should have, but that in essence is what I meant. Of course, as I said, there was never a time when Michael “wasn’t” black. He was a black man and a black icon. But also, he was an icon-period. He was arguably the greatest entertainer of our time-black OR white. I suppose that can open up a whole other can of worms (as well as, perhaps, a topic for a whole other blog). In the end, just who did Michael “belong” to? He belonged to the world, in a sense, yet I am reminded everyday of just what he means to his African-American fans especially. I teach at a primarily African-American university, and I know what the name “Michael Jackson” means to my students. It is still something that I, as a Caucasion woman (even with my Native American blood) can certainly understand, but can never be entirely privy to, because it is not my experience. But Michael certainly never wanted the world to forget who he was and where he came from. “I know my race; I just look in the mirror!” he proudly announced in Harlem, and with those words, brought the house down.

  2. Judith Mason says:

    Thank you for posting these beautiful photos of Michael Jackson. His career spanned many decades and he never failed to surprise us with his inventiveness. Perhaps that helped spark some of the compartmentalization, too — Thriller Era, Bad Era, Dangerous Era, etc. We learned to identify the ‘eras’ by his look, his hair, and his costumes. For those of us who grew up (so to speak) with Michael, there was never a Black vs. White Michael. The fact is that he was born Black regardless of what happened to his pigmentation. There is no denying, however, that the media poisoned many generations by relentlessly preaching he “Skin-Bleaching Self-Hating Black Man” myth — though any real reporter could have corrected it years ago. But, the BIG LIE sold papers and the media repeated it and got rich. Sadly, there are still those who remain ‘willfully’ ignorant on this matter. Even so, I am heartened by the number of studies, articles, books, and scholarly symposia now devoted to Michael Jackson’s artistry, business sense and humanitarian efforts. Young people, relatively unscathed by the ancient poison, are SEEING Michael Jackson as ONE — artist and man. He led a big, panoramic, challenging, accomplished and noble life worthy of exploration and appreciation for many generations to come. That, along with media’s gradual descent into irrelevance will provide Michael Jackson the well-deserved last laugh.

    • Theresa B says:

      Excellent points, Judith.

    • Denise Majette says:

      “He led a big, panoramic, challenging, accomplished and noble life worthy of exploration and appreciation for many generations to come. That, along with media’s gradual descent into irrelevance will provide Michael Jackson the well-deserved last laugh.” Judith you are so on point about the life Michael led which speaks volumes of his courage and endurance as he soldiered on in this life in spite of the media and all who attempt to besmirch Michael’s character. Transcended is not an improper word to use because I believe Michael was very much aware of the racism and prejudice that paraded before him in his life often times from the race that he was born into. I am certain that pained him more, but it did not change who he was, how he saw himself or others; first and foremost as a Human Being Who Sincerely, Loved and Appreciated His Life and The Life of His Fellow Man. It is so great what Raven has related in this presentation she has knocked the ball out ballpark again!!!!! So many beautiful and genuinely incisive comments here.

  3. D. Michelle says:

    I would love to see the day when all people (including fans) can look at a photo of Michael post-vitiligo and say, “That’s a beautiful, black man”. I like that more people are talking about the fact that he never was “white” – and honestly, fans and non-fans alike should strive more to erase that notion from their vocabulary. It’s not only offensive to Michael’s legacy; it’s an offense toward his ancestry and the people who share it. So much more than pigmentation is tied to “blackness” and Michael self-identified with his sense of blackness in multiple ways. It is a shame that this is lost to the public (and to some fans). As you beautifully stated, his race never changed. We’ve been programmed to associate skin color with race in such a strict manner, that we often forget to understand the more meaningful concepts of culture, ethnicity, and ancestry. On the other end of the spectrum, we must also get rid of the notion that he was only “black” when his skin shade was darker. When we separate Michael into two different individuals, we disrespect his entire being. Michael at age 50 was still “black and beautiful” in every sense of the word. The media and society made an effort to destroy that notion for many people – and it has its roots tied to many centuries ago.
    Perhaps a better way of stating that he was accepted by all races and creeds would be to simply state that he was a man of all people. It is true, black fans tend to take a certain ownership over Michael – or rather, a sense of camaraderie and relation to his history and background. This isn’t to say that others are denied their rights to him; just that because of our commonality with his racial/ethnic/cultural background, we share a unique history and perspective. We share a “black” identity.
    This post is much appreciated. And I agree, Todd Gray’s book is absolutely astonishing from top to finish.

    • iutd says:

      Thanks for this comment. Armond White wrote something to the effect of–don’t look at him, listen to him! His music is embedded in the whole fabric of Black culture, as you were saying.

  4. Theresa B says:

    I totally agree that Michael was born and remained a proud Black man his entire life. We can’t always control our health and Michael faced the affects of vitiligo with grace and courage. Through his music and all encompassing love for mankind, he became a representative of the potential for all people to be united. I love Michael in all his “eras” whether black or white. He was a beautiful man with a beautiful bone structure, gorgeous and soulful eyes, and lithe dancer’s body. There are so many beautiful photo shoots including the Annie Lebowitz shoot and the sessions for Invincible, two more of my favorites. Todd Gray’s photos are artistic masterpieces.

  5. iutd says:

    Thanks for the beautiful photos, Raven. I was rereading Michael’s comments to Oprah in 1993 and she asks him when the vitiligo started and he says around Off the Wall, Thriller–so I am thinking around 1979 it started, so by the Thriller period, he already had vitiligo. I read the glove was to hide the vitiligo on his fingers, b/c the skin disease first manifests in the extremities like the hands, feet. If you look at color photos the change in his skin seems to me to start 1979.

    • Raven says:

      Yes. This is why throughout much of the Thriller era, at least in the videos, his skin looked much darker than normal. The Thriller video is an excellent case in point. Michael was never naturally that dark. His natural skin was a very coppery, medium tone. It looked to me in the Thriller vid as if they were actually trying to OVERCOMPENSATE for his condition by layering on the dark makeup, but the result to me (I don’t know, this has just always been my opinion) looked rather harsh and unnatural, almost like an actor wearing blackface makeup. To me, it was pretty obvious by that point that the disease was quite advanced and they were having to work harder to conceal it.

      Nevertheless, I included the Thriller era here because to most people at the time, Michael still looked like the Michael we had always known, other than having a slimmer nose. We were not yet aware of any major outward changes to his appearance. For most of us, we didn’t see any noticeable change until the Bad era.

      • Simba says:

        I agree that Michael’s makeup looked too dark during the Thriller era. But you should remember that in those days, good makeup for black people was almost non-existent. Even now, when the major makeup lines have plenty of brown shades, it’s hard to find foundation that isn’t either too red or too gray. Even so, Michael was gorgeous in the video for Thriller!

        • Raven says:

          That’s a good point, too. Perhaps all in all it was simply a case of bad makeup, but part of me has always wondered if the advanced vitiligo might not have been the reason for it.

          Yes, he was adorable in that video; still in that very youthful, boyish kind of way.

      • Nina Y F says:

        Makeup did play a role, perhaps…. especially the part of “Thriller” where he’s in the car and walking with Ola Ray. It may also be the way he was lit… or perhaps Rick Baker, who did the special effects (including the werewolf transformation) indicated that he wanted to match Michael’s skin tone with that of the werewolf he was going to become.

        The rest of the film’s scenes (the outside of the movie theater, the walk down the street, and inside the house) show, it seems to me, something that seems to be closer to his natural skin color at the time—at least, according to many other photographs from late 1983, when “Thriller” was shot.

  6. Ara says:

    Raven,

    Don’t know if you are aware of it but John Jeremiah Sullivan wrote a brilliant essay on(tribute to) Michael which appeared in the September 2009 issue of GQ magazine.

    Below are some excerpts that touch on his race and the “art” of his physical transformations.

    “Back in the Day” by John Jeremiah Sullivan, GQ magazine, Sept. 2009

    “I have read a stack of books about him in the past month, more than I ever imagined I would—though not more than I wanted. He warrants and will no doubt one day receive a major biography: All the great cultural strains of American music came together in him. We have yet to accept that his very racial in-betweenness made him more and not less of an essential figure in our tradition. He grasped this and used it.

    “On the Internet, you can see a picture of him near the end of his life, juxtaposed with a digital projection of what he would have looked like at the same age without the surgeries and makeup and wigs. A smiling middle-aged black guy, handsome in an everyday way. We are meant, of course, to feel a connection with this lost neverbeing, and pity for the strange, self-mutilated creature he became. I can’t be alone, however, in feeling just the opposite, that there’s something metaphysically revolting about the projected mock-up. It’s an abomination. Michael chose his true face. What is, is natural.

    His physical body is arguably, even inarguably, the single greatest piece of postmodern American sculpture. It must be carefully preserved.”

    I share Sullivan’s opinion that Michael transformed his face and body into a work of art–even if unintentionally. That blows my mind.

    How absolutely mind-blowing and genius is that?

    • iutd says:

      Thanks for that article, Ara, which I read with interest. He makes some good points but he has major failings as well in thinking Ian Halperin’s book was reliable.

    • Raven says:

      I think I might have seen that article before. Some of the phrasing sounds familiar. I remember reading an article (most likely this one) where the writer was referring to that digital projection photo and made a very searing, truthful observation. The original “intent” of that photo was to show the world how Michael would have looked as a normally aged man of about 50 who had never had vitiligo, and never had cosmetic surgery. The intent was to show the world,”Look, this is how ‘normal’ Michael might have looked.” But I agree absolutely with what Sullivan says (hopefully he is no relation to Randall Sullivan, lol!). The man in that digital projection photo is a very handome, middle-aged African-American man. But he is not Michael. He is, in fact, a stranger to us; someone we don’t know; perhaps we could say, someone we never had the opportunity to know. Who knows, had we had a chance to have known that man, we might have loved him just as much. But we can’t undo history. The Michael that we came to know-replete with vitiligo, cosmetic surgery and all, is nevertheless the man we knew as Michael. We came to know a man who bore many crosses, and suffered much, while retaining his strength of character.

      • Nicoletta says:

        Raven, in fact, I would add that Michael has always been him in spite of all distinctions of “ere”.
        Perhaps an exception is the period between 2000 and 2002 (period really strange for his face, which you have spoken a sometimes, the only one that has sometimes led me to think about self-mutilation).

        But what do you think about rumors that say that he, after all, really thought to be ugly?
        Looking at these photos, oh it seems impossible! Lol.

        • Raven says:

          I am not sure if, in your last sentence, you mean it in the sense of Michael thinking himself to be ugly, or others thinking he was ugly.

          The fact that Michael believed himself to be ugly is very true, as that has been confirmed for me by several people who knew him. It’s sad but true, and even sadder why he would have felt that way. “But he was gorgeous!” is usually the first thing you hear people say in response to that, but he eveidently couldn’t see it. I think he had an idea of what his ideal appearance should be, and continued trying to perfect that for the rest of his life.

          I’ve never really known anyone to say he was ugly before his cosmetic surgery, except perhaps for that somewhat awkward phase he went through as an adolescent. (Even then, he wasn’t “ugly”; he just had bad acne, and in many of the photos from that period, he seems to seldom smile or look happy, which only intensifies the image of an awkward era). But there HAS been a media tendency to downplay his sexiness (from ANY era). The most some seem willing to give is that he might have been somewhat “cute” as a young man, but that is about as far as some want to admit. There has always been a faction out there who seemed to find his appeal to women of all races and nationalities a threat. Go figure.

          If we are talking later era Michael, of course we know the media conspired to convince the public he had become a mutilated freak. To emphasize this, they always used the most absolutely grotesque photos of him they could find, and those photos have, in turn, been used and re-used to burn those images into the public consciousness. Thus, it is almost impossible to argue with some that he was not ugly during this era, because they will always post one of those grotesque photos so as to make us look like blind fools in denial. The truth is that those photos really only represent a small minority of the many hundreds-if not thousands-of photos made of him during this era, many of which are quite flattering. I will admit I didn’t care much for some of the harsh, garish makeup he tended to wear during that era; he looked much better after he sort of backed off from that (TII era, for instance) where he see him returning to a more natural and minimal look.

          For me, I think one reason I find mature Michael so sexy is because he gained a lot of confidence, and seemed to grow into his sexuality. He became, as the old saying goes, comfortable in his own skin. Or as my kids would say, he developed “swag.”

          In his youth, Michael was very cute, but also very shy and awkward. He hadn’t yet developed that inner confidence. That sort of innocence can have its appeal, too, of course. What girl in the 70’s and early 80’s didn’t want to bring Michael home and nurture him (lol)?

          The beauty of Michael’s life is that we got to watch him grow up and mature before our eyes. I don’t know of too many public figures whose entire life played out on the world stage in quite the same way as Michael’s.

          • Nicoletta says:

            Raven, thanks a million for your answer and forgive me my English which is always so precarious and careless.

            Yes, I meant to say, if it were true that Michael considers himself ugly and you answered me. I have also heard of jeers from the family on his nose, but they are probably things that belong to the whole mythology of the character Michael Jackson.

            I, you know, I really think that the press has been unfair to Michael in a horrible way, also from the point of view of its physicality. but during the period of 2000/2002 I think there is something more than the heavy makeup is not necessarily due to cosmetic surgery, but this is just my opinion.

            Raven, the fact of charged sexy, wow , I believe that Michael is sexy and cuty as like a young man but hot as a mature man, just in different ways, we say that there is plenty of choice!

            I prefer mature Michael and I have to censor why, lol!

            You’re right, no one “of too many public figures whose entire life played out on the world stage in quite the same way as Michael’s.”

          • Sina says:

            Raven those are amazing photo’s. Beautiful!
            They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You can easily write a book about Michaels looks and peoples opinion about it.
            I realize that we are the last generation who have known Michaels original looks up to the Bad era. Younger generations only know the image of the second half of his life.
            Whether he intentionally sculpted his looks, added by a twist of nature, the sad thing is that it was a lifelong work in progress to correct effects of lupus, undergo painful treatment and use toxic creams to even out his skin tone. I am not sure if that was the kind of artwork Michael had in mind. The alternative was looking like a ‘spotted cow’ as he told his mother.
            How different perceptions can be. To me Michael was a very confident man in his younger years( after the acne ). He had the guts to stand up against Gordy and leave Motown, helped his father negotiate the deal with CBS Epic and dismissed him as his manager the minute he became of age. That takes a lot of confidence. It seems as if he even walked straighter and looked much taller then. Then something changed. There is an interview in which his mother says ‘Michael has changed. He has become very shy, I think the stage might have done that to him’.
            There were ups and downs but it were the accusations and the trial in 1993 and 2003 that took away his zest. Despite that he always looked very composed and impressive.
            I also love the sexy swag,but reading how personal friends and family describe him, much of it was a public image and nothing like how he was in private. Regular use of anxiety medication give the impression that he still had self-confidence issues.
            He was the most photographed person on earth and who doesn’t have a bad photo day . But he always looked attractive and he is one of few people whose beauty is beyond looks.

            The Rempert article is one of the best reviews I have ever read. Its written with so much admiration and love. Amazing!

          • Raven says:

            Many of Michael’s family started to notice a change in his personality around the time of adolescence. This is also depicted in the American Dream TV movie. No one was quite sure what was going on with him, other than being depressed over his brothers’ marriages and the acne. I think there were probably other issues going on as well. It was a huge shift, because he had always been a very outgoing and bubbly kid. I think that was always his baseline personality, but something happened along the way that caused him to withdraw, and turn inward. In a way, maybe that wasn’t a horribly bad thing; it probably resulted in some of his greatest creative work. But the toll it may have taken in other ways is something we can only guess.

            Converesely, however, it was during this same phase that he started to exude much of the confidence in his career decisions and business matters that you mention; the era in which he started to take control. So it seems as if whatever that switch was that turned off the bubbly, outgoing kid somehow turned on the much more serious but confident adolscent and young adult. There was a trade-off of sorts.

            But over time, having been battered about by accusations, tabloid headlines, court appearances, mounting bills, and being surrounded by bad advisors making bad decisions on his behalf, etc., much of that confidence started to erode away. This was the reason for the anti-anxiety medications.

            Do I think he became more comfortable in his skin as he matured? Yes, I stand by that. However, that isn’t to say that there weren’t other issues that were simulataneously working from the other end to deplete that confidence.

            In the late 70’s and early 80’s Michael still had the advantage of youth on his side. And no matter what anyone says, youth is ALWAYS an advantage. It reminds me of the scene from the movie Cold Mountain where, just before getting shot, the young albino character proclaims, “I tell you what I got on my side…the confidence of youth.” He had the talent; he had the hunger; he had the drive; he had the burning, and he had something to prove to the world.

            That is one of the qualities that still, now, attracts me to young Michael. Beacause one can truly sense-even see-that fire burning.

        • el says:

          I think, in 2000-2002 he was just on big amount of prednisone. It looks very much as classical moon-face. He had quite a same appearance (with the exception of make-up)somewhere in 85/86.

      • Simba says:

        There was no need to project what Michael would have looked like without vitiligo and plastic surgery. There are many photos of him during the time of the Jacksons before surgery with his brown skin. Look at the video of Blame It On The Boogie. He was gorgeous! And he didn’t look much like Jackie or his other brothers. I’ve seen projections that are downright grotesque, looking nothing like the grown, albeit young, MJ.

        Perhaps the subsequent loss of confidence some see was brought about by a number of factors: it was clear that the vitiligo was spreading uncontrollably – you can see it on his neck where he sweated off the makeup, he was being pressured to stay with the family act, and he was by his own words hopelessly in love with a woman who didn’t take him seriously. Any one of those factors could have tipped him into a depression.

  7. Nancy says:

    All I can say is Beautiful! He was such a gorgeous man! His one of a kind voice, grace as a dancer and physical beauty…almost hard to comprehend one person could embody these qualities. Let’s not forget that he also was very intelligent, as well, as a amazing artist. He was indeed a renaissance man! Like his song proclaimed it doesn’t matter if he was black or white, he was an amazingly gracious, kind, talented man that graced this earth for much too short a time. Thanks for a lovely post.

  8. Nina Y F says:

    Raven, thanks so much for posting these photographs; they make me very happy. Physical beauty, indeed! And, though I know you feel otherwise, I have to say that I find him more beautiful and sexy in this phase of his life (circa 1978-1982) than any other.

  9. iutd says:

    Just to say if you haven’t seen Rempert’s breakdown of Michael’s 1988 Grammy performance (TWYMMF and an amazing live version of Man in the Mirror with the Andrae Crouch choir), it’s really worth checking out and so rewarding:

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/hollywood-prospectus/post/_/id/69747/rembert-explains-the-80s-michael-jackson-at-the-1988-grammy-awards

    • Raven says:

      Wow, just…wow. I would LOVE to ask them for permission to reprint this.

      Here are just three of my favorite observations from this very witty and spot-on piece, that had me WOL (that’s whooping out loud!):

      HE SPUN AROUND FIVE TIMES AND LANDED ON HIS KNEES IN THE DIRECTION HE WANTED BECAUSE HE’S PERFECT.

      Respect this mythical creature and his hops.

      And now he’s deep-voice scatting and screaming. Yep, definitely blacked out. One hundred percent thinks he’s in Gary. So pleased with him.

      • iutd says:

        Yes, it’s a great piece of observation and writing. I like his attention to the gospel nature of the performnce–how the choir comes closer and how it’s like ‘church.’ I got a kick out of his comments on “Tough Guy Mike” too!! I read the comments too and some people said that MJ was singing along with a background track with his mike off until he got to the last part. In any case, it was an amazing performance and Rempert really gets it and communicates his frame-by-frame admiration.

  10. BlueLotus says:

    Raven,
    Since u r a fan of Mike’s grown up pics, I recently spotted a fab pic which I had not seen before…see the last pic in this article…how fab happy Mike with Prince and Paris!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2289126/Paris-Jackson-American-varsity-cheerleader–keeps-grungy-edge.html

    • Raven says:

      That’s a great pic of him and the kids but something about that Daily Mail article bugs the crap out of me (and it’s not just the headline). Who dedicates an entire article to photo after photo…after photo after photo…after photo after photo…of a 14-year old girl’s cheerleading outing? Even if she IS Michael Jackson’s daughter? Something like this would normally be a small blip in the entertainment section, and this is an entire photo spread!

      Still not a fan of the new look-not that Paris asked my opinion, of course. I know she “thinks” she is expressing her individuality, but in actuality she is just making herself look like a carbon copy of every girl Goth wannabe out there. I hope soon she will outgrow this phase and go back to just being Paris again.

      Well, whoever Paris is these days. I think this is proof that she is still just playing around with looks and identities, and isn’t committed to any one ideaology-or fashion trend. She seems to not care what the “rules” are supposed to be. Who says one can’t be a little bit grunge and still be an all-American cheerleader? Lol. Good for her.

      Now getting back to that pic…wow, Paris sure had one gorgeous daddy, didn’t she?

      • iutd says:

        Thanks for your comments on all those pics of Paris. I agree it’s outrageous and wrong. How did they get all those anyway? Was the event open to the public? isn’t it a private school?

        I agree with you about the new look for Paris–black hair etc. I do worry about her. I don’t see that she has good female role models and she did tell Oprah she was being bullied at school. Girls can be very mean. So maybe she is rebelling against whatever is going on in school with some stupid girls who are critical of her??? I just wish she had a really warm and loving parent to help her and I think a dad is very important to both boys and girls but there is something special between a father and daughter.

        Yes, her daddy was HOT!!!!! I guess I shouldn’t worry about her since she had him for as long as she did. In the photo she is looking right at him. I think she misses him a lot. Are the kids in therapy? Just wondering.

        • BlueLotus says:

          U r right, Raven. Pic after pic…crazy…but then what shud we expect from a tabloid, I was looking for Paris and got tempted and then finally rewarded by a lovely pic :-)

          Have you noticed, there is a very positive sign about Paris, she is now out of news…tweets very little, her instagram is private (at one point it was going a bit out of control). I love her FB page, she posts lovely family pics there, its more intimate and out of sight of media relatively.

          The only worrisome aspect is Latoya is advising them about career but perhaps I don’t know much about her. Perhaps, Latoya has really started over!

          Hope for the best!

          PS: Looking at the pic it reminds me yet again that the media always had excellent shots of Michael but chose to publish the worst ones and if they didn’t find a bad one then photoshopped one…

          • Raven says:

            I have some thoughts on LaToya but I am thinking about making a post of them in the next few days so maybe rather than spill all the beans here, I will just save it for then. I will probably be doing a series of more frequent but shorter pieces over the next few weeks, while I concentrate on a couple of interviews I am doing for this site, finishing up the books I have promised to review, preparing for my university presentation on Dancing the Dream and grading/judging my students’ essays on the Black or White video. Anyway, my thoughts on all this latest with LaToya is one of the things I will address. Since I consider this an MJ blog first and foremost, I don’t normally comment much on the Jackson family’s latest doings except as they pertain to Michael. However, LaToya has been in the news a lot lately due to her new reality show and her (now seemingly close) relationship with Michael’s children. I have some thoughts on that, both good and bad, that I will share in that piece.

            I have seen Paris’s FB page and it is indeed lovely.

        • Raven says:

          They were in grief therapy for awhile after their dad died. I don’t know about now.

          • BlueLotus says:

            That’s a good thought Raven, short and frequent posts!! good for u and good for us! :-) Also pls posts thoughts about the AEG trial scheduled next month. thanks.

          • Raven says:

            I’m sure I will be!

          • Sina says:

            Raven, It will be very much appreciated if you write about the trial.
            Im not holding my breath but my hope is that this trial will set a precedent for concert promoters and everyone in the entertainment business who Michael called SHARKS to stop taking advantage of artists who depend on them to make a living. Now even more so since artist do not sell records anymore but have to tour to make money. The same way the criminal trial set a precedence for doctors who let greed stand in the way of their ethical code.
            It will do justice to a man who from an early age on was aware of the dark side of the entertainment industry and their borderline criminal conduct. He spoke these historical words.

            ” The tradition of great performers from Sammy Davis jr to James Brown to Jacky Wilson, Fred Astaire, Gene kelly. The story is usually the same though. These guys work realy hard at their craft, but the story ends the same. They usually are broken thorn, and just sad and the story is very sad at the end because the companies take advantage of them. We cant let them get away with that”

            I hope after everything is over there will be a law named after Michael to prevent this from ever happening again to other artists.
            Then Michaels death will not be totally in vain.

          • Raven says:

            You know, being reminded of those words he spoke in 2002, I teared up reading this. You are right. I’ve had a lot of this stuff on my mind as of late, especially as I prepare for my Dancing The Dream presentation and thinking of so many things that Michael was fighting against. The rights of artists to NOT be “used up, broken and torn” was a cause that meant so much to him.

            We can’t bring Michael back, but I think we can help to ensure that he didn’t die in vain.

          • Sina says:

            Thank you Raven. I know you have a busy schedule and keeping up the blog takes a lot of work and time. But these words are so prophetical as if he had foreseen that this would also be his faith.
            Much is being said and done in Michaels name that often makes me frown. But Im sure this is one cause that was close to his heart because he lived it and tried to change it.
            Writing about it is the least that should be done and I think you and other bloggers have the best way to word it.
            Michael himself will give you the inspiration to do it.

  11. Ara says:

    Raven, in your article above you say that “Often, I hear people somewhat jokingly refer to the different eras of Michael as “black Michael” and “white Michael.”

    And further on, amidst much analytic discourse, you make another statement: “Referring to him by such distinctions as “white Michael” or “black Michael” is doing a grave injustice.”

    Yes. I agree.

    You go on to say “such labels are really meaningless” but then also that “the problem is that there was never a time when Michael wasn’t a black man.”

    Thereby, paradoxically, labeling him.

    You again (forgive my selective editing of your words)say: “On a more metaphoric level, perhaps we could even argue that he became someone who literally transcended color and race, by becoming…in his later years….as many who knew him have attested, actually “translucent.”

    Yes. True. That’s it.

    We who call ourselves “Jacksonologists” love to love and study Michael endlessly. But it always comes back to the best of Michael is Michael–what he himself said and the essences he lived by.

    Michael said this: “I’m not going to spend my life being a color.”

    Let’s recognize his accomplishment. Let’s honor his accomplishment.

    We’d all be better off if we adopted his philosophy.

    • Raven says:

      Race always seems a paradoxical issue when discussing Michael, just as you have seen from the many and various, diverse opinions of this one piece alone. For some people, race is a non-issue when it comes to Michael and they feel it should remain a non-issue because Michael wasn’t “about being a color”; for others, it means everything, especially for African-Americans who understandably take great pride in celebrating him as one of their own. I think it is disrespectful when people refer to Michael’s later eras as “white Michael” because-while I know they mean it in the sense of his physical appearance-it somehow implies that he literally changed/transformed his race to become “white.” Of course, that was not the case at all. He was simply an African-American man trapped inside a body that had lost all pigment; a body with a skin disorder. So in that regard his physical change wasn’t intentional and he did not “turn white” even if, yes, to the outward eye, he “looked” white. Michael remained at all times very proud of his race and proud of who he was, and as he proved in many of his songs, his art was never entirely an attempt to separate himself from his black consciousness. Calling him a black man, in my opinion, isn’t “labeling” him; it is simply stating a fact. Michael did transcend race in the sense that physically, as a result of his vitiligo he lost pigment and became essentially “without color,” and artistically because his music had such mass appeal on a global scale that it, too, transcended race. Yet the paradox of Michael Jackson is that he managed this feat while still, at all times, remaining firmly rooted in his black identity.

  12. Melinda says:

    Thank you so much for this editorial and the beautiful photos of Michael Jackson. I remember in the early 80’s how people would talk about Wacko Jacko and so on, just terrible things. The funniest memories were how the white men were so jealous of Michael!!! They would judge him so harsely and I would laugh at them because I knew they were just JEALOUS of this wonderful African-American genius! Michael has transcended all boundries- and it is unfortunate that he had to leave this earth to “Really” be appreciated again for who he was and WHAT he meant to this earth. What a kind spirit,loving soul-giving human being that he was. His legacy will live on forever! I am so proud to have grown up with Michael- I have watched and truly loved him for over 45 years. Thank you Lord for giving us this Angel. He has and will continue to change the world. It was “All for Love!”

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