Friday, June 26, 2009

Because He Was One of Us: A Tribute to Michael Jackson

Michael Joseph Jackson

There was a kid back in the old neighborhood—I think his name was Bud or something—who we picked on relentlessly. Yeah, his name was Bud; I remember now. Anyway, we teased him. We tricked him into eating and drinking all kinds of foolishness. Bud was the butt of all our jokes.

I don’t think he was slow or anything; he was just strange. Very strange.

But as vigorously as we picked on him and teased him and made his life hell, we defended him. Strangely as it sounds, we would fight tooth and nail with anyone who dared disrespect him or raise a hand against him.

He was one of us, and any affront against him, any insult hurled at him, we took personal. Very personal. I guess in some idiosyncratic way you can say we loved Bud as best as little boys growing up among the filth and the funk of the ghetto could love and show affection.

For some reason, when I heard of the passing of Michael Jackson, Bud immediately came to mind. I guess our quirky relationship with Bud reminded me of the relationship the Black community has had with Michael Jackson for so long.

We loved him as we watched him grow up on stage performing with his brothers. We recognized the immensity of his talent even then. We loved him when he finally went solo. I still remember the debates over the identity of Billie Jean and just where that baby was.

We especially loved him when Thriller came out. Somehow we could just sense that he was changing the music industry, that he was taking over. And in the years that followed, we loved him even as he began altering his appearance to look less like us and began to exhibit stranger and stranger behavior. We were somewhat perturbed with him, but we loved him nonetheless.

And we stood with him when he was accused of the unthinkable. And we bore the jokes that arose, and sometimes we even participated by telling a few of them ourselves.

We dismissed the news that he was penniless and waited patiently for him to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and take over the world again. But I guess now that day will never come.

But we must remember that for whatever he was and whatever he wasn’t, he represented the best we have to offer. Perhaps we shall never know just how much talent he really possessed. But despite it all, because he was one of us we shall continue to love him for all that he has given us throughout the years.

And I leave you with Never Can Say Goodbye by the Jackson 5.


Shawnta said...

You hit the nail on the matter what he was one of us, and we all loved him.

Issa Rae said...

What a frickin great post.

Issa Rae said...

I'm sharing this on Facebook with the rest of the mourners :-)

Invisible Woman said...

Great post, and Mike sang the heck out of that song--only Isaac Hayes came close.

Max Reddick said...

Ladies, thanks so much for the generous comments. And @Issa Rae, thank you for your help getting the word out. I got mad hits! Evidently, you weld some serious social network power, the likes of this world has never seen.

Again, thanks for your support.


KST said...

Lovely. Thanks for expressing your thoughts on this in a very kind way. Love the pic with MJ in the white and yellow - used to have a large poster of it my room.


Max Reddick said...

That is a classy pix, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Max this is my first time on your blog. I was on Field Negroes blog when I saw a comment by you and thought I should check you out. I really love what you had to say about MJ. I always felt like no matter what kind of wierdness I heard about Michael, that I could never turn my back on him. I always felt it was something deeper going on. I guess sometimes people are just out there, but there is always something behind it. It's not always easy for me to feel or think this way, because I can be quick to judge and even condemn. MJ was embedded into my life at an early age and I have always felt like he belonged to me, to us.


Max Reddick said...

Thank you for comment, Simone, and thanks for coming by.

I believe that we as Americans make our celebrities into what we would have them to be, what we believe them to be. We hound them, we chase them, we force them inward, and when they don't act as we believe they should, we eat them alive.

It is really unfortunate that someone has to die to get the respect they deserve.

Don't be a stranger!

Related Posts with Thumbnails