Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson (1958 - 2009)

Man, Michael Jackson passes at 50.

Well, folks far more knowledgeable on the subject than me are writing about the contributions and sagas of this larger than life pop icon. So I can't add much in those areas. But still, it's seems important to at least mention his passing, his significance in this space, a black studies blog.

I have to say that among other things Jackson's passing at the young age of 50 is particularly saddening for me. Sure, many folks of my generation cannot remember a time without having the influence of his music around in some form or another, yet really...50, nah, that's too young.

But back to the point...Michael Jackson and black studies. What an idea it is to consider that Michael Jackson was indeed a black artist--the very embodiment of longstanding continuations and wild innovations of African American expressive traditions.

You almost hesitate to speak of his enormous cross-over appeal. I mean, cross-over from what to what? Wasn't he always already out there and right here all along?

Traditionally, Black Studies projects have looked at the struggles and achievements of "serious" figures like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, DuBois and Hurston, Malcolm and Martin. So what would it mean to look toward Michael Jackson?

And then which version of the "King of Pop" would we look at? I've been intrigued while watching the public memories how people seem to be remembering different Michael Jacksons. Some remember the little boy Michael of the Jackson 5; some remember the Thriller days Jackson; some remember the latter day one. All the versions seem quite valid, especially in the minds of the folks remembering.

Anyway...there's much to consider, much to remember.

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