“I’m Only Human”, Goodbye Michael Jackson
I thought it only fitting that I write a few words on FIT about Michael. He meant so much to me, my family, African American people, American people and culture, and the world. I’ve decided not to talk so much from a place of pain as an emotion but rather in terms of it as a part of the five senses which I felt Michael’s life and work aroused in me and others whom I have known. My parent’s homes were filled with music and in particular that of Motown records. My parents were divorced when I was a kid but one thing that they both held on to was their love for music and appreciation of art.
My mother used to let us play our favorite songs either on the radio or by record player and sing, along with the hair brushes. My sister and I got on my little brother’s nerves. We knew all the words to every song. Of course, we didn’t hesitate to let him see and hear our talent. I stayed with my dad in the hot summers in Las Vegas. In true Vegas fashion we had all of the sights and sounds of the day. I remember the talent shows in which I made my cousins and siblings practice singing over and over again. We were Diana Ross and the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips and of course the Jackson 5. At about the age of 6, I was told that “Give me 5” came from the Jackson 5. That hand slap was one of many ways in which Michael pervaded my senses from my youth.
By the time he was in his teens I was a little girl. I saw pictures of him with the acne and wide nose which he said he was teased about. Even though there were always five of them on stage, my eye always remained fixated on him. I couldn’t help it. None of us could. He had “It”. When “Human Nature” came out I heard an interview in which he talked about crying at the end of the tune “She’s Out of My Life” because he felt the music so deeply in his heart. I listened intently to that song over and over again. I could hear his sad sigh. It was a whimper. I cried along with him as I sang that song.
He was ours. We knew him and were touched by him and appreciated him and as much as you can love someone that you’ve never actually met, loved him. I understand that love seems like such a strange word to use. I feel strange because I think of love as a reciprocal emotion. I love people and they in turn love me back. How can one love someone whom they’ve never actually met? Do we love the icon? Do we love the music? What is it that provides reciprocity for us?
I think that love can be felt for people both real and imagined. My love for Michael Jackson was real for me despite the fact that I never met him because I saw him, heard him, spoke and sang to and with him, ate with him (well of course only eating as I watched him), or starved myself to by his posters.
When I got old enough to realize what a crush was Michael was my first crush. When I was about 13 my mother took my siblings and me to see him perform at the Coliseum in Oakland with his brothers on the Victory Tour. We got the tickets at the last moment so we had balcony seats behind the stage. During one of his dance routines he turned around and pointed up at the balcony. I almost fainted. No one could tell me that Michael didn’t see me up there.
I have always dismissed the accusations against him as ludicrous. I have been a staunch defender. As a member of the African American community I was saddened by the skin bleaching and plastic surgery. My sadness was not because I thought he wanted to be a white woman as so many have claimed. Rather, it was because I saw him as beautiful. He was a beautiful carmel colored, dynamic, inspirational, talented, sensitive, splendid Black Man. I wished he could see himself that way. He may not have known how infectious his smile was, but I knew.
I am angry with the American media which crucified him. I believe more than anything he died of a broken heart. The day he died I danced and sang “Will You Be There?” along with him in front of my television set. He said “I’m only human”, and he was right. Goodbye Michael Jackson.