To read the first of this new 4-part series by Aberjhani on Michael Jackson, please click here. The concluding part 4 starts now. Thank you for reading:
“Could it be really me
pretending that they’re not alone?”
–from Man in the Mirror
The word artist or “artistic” in contemporary times too often translates into the mental image of someone who does little more than indulge a vague notion of sensitivity due to creative inclinations and claims various forms of entitlements for that same seeming indulgence. One of the most significant aspects Armond White’s Keep Movingn: The Chronicles of Michael Jackson, is his identification of the perceived intentions, strategies, and traditions that empowered the brilliant performer’s work. This combination of qualities enabled Jackson to penetrate diverse cultures and inspire individual lives with what he prayed was authentic L-O-V-E.
Such an understanding is particularly important because it provides a more accurate context when measuring the life of the artist lost (his death, after all, was ruled a homicide with a trial pending) and the genius of the legacy rediscovered. It is from such a measurement that others may be able to determine the directions in which Jackson may have further developed, both as a cultural worker and as a spiritual visionary. Such a measurement could also, for those who so choose, allow that determination to inform their own individual genius.
Consider, for example, this: when Jackson co-wrote “We Are the World” with Lionel Richie and made a call to action that was answered by some of the greatest names in contemporary music, he demonstrated a level of committed creativity and social responsibility rarely witnessed among individual musical artists. You can almost (but ONLY almost) set aside the fact that the event generated more than $60 million for famine relief in 1985 and think a bit more about how it established a modern-day tradition of philanthropy and greater social consciousness among celebrities.
Few “divas” or “superstars” now allow themselves to be referred to in such terms unless they are linked to some means of “giving back” to the world as Jackson did. True: many do little more than utilize the phrase “giving back” as buzz terminology to boost their public profiles. But some—such as Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Usher, Beyonce, and John Legend to name only a few–– truly give of themselves and their bank accounts in ways that improve the quality of other people’s existence.
Of Buzz Words and HISTORY
It was not (arguably) until MJ found himself backed into a corner of accusations later proven false that he produced what many regard as his most politically and socially charged work; namely, the previously unrecorded songs on HISTORY, Book 1. (These have been analyzed enough elsewhere that there is no need to do so here.) Jackson’s masterpiece presented the world with an artist capable aligning severe personal anguish with collective suffering and reshaping it into phenomenal artistry that continues to change lives.
It’s hard not to imagine what his sensibilities might have made out of present-day atrocities: the recent massacre of children in Norway; the 15 million children who died of starvation last year and the same number or greater that likely will die this year; the uninhibited racism scarring contemporary American politics; the growing number of families experiencing eviction from their homes, and numerous other conditions exploding like land mines in one life after another.
The same startling painful realities that Jackson once witnessed, and that prompted him to struggle so hard on behalf of humanity, remained after he left. The horrors that compelled him to challenge “the man in the mirror” continue to spill blood and destroy human hope throughout the global village. Even so:
It is not necessarily through the eyes that we come to understand the world but it is through the eyes that most of us first come to perceive the world. What does or does not follow after that is a matter for one’s “Heart”–– meaning courage, devotion, compassion, and the will to succeed. “Heart” was something Michael Jackson had by the tons. How to listen to our own hearts and trust in the light of intelligence, faith, and love shining from within it is only one of the lessons he lived, and taught, so very well.
by Aberjhani, National African-American Art Examiner
co-author of ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Michael Jackson from a Counterbalanced Perspective
- Michael Jackson and Summertime from this Point On
- Looking at the World Through Michael Jackson’s Left Eye Part 1
- Looking at the World Through Michael Jackson’s Left Eye Part 2
- Looking at the World Through Michael Jackson’s Left Eye Part 3
- Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait Update Page
- 3rd Annual Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson Birthday Celebration
- Work and Soul in Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT
- Michael Jackson Legacies of a Globetrotting Moonwalking Philanthropist
- To Walk a Lifetime in Michael Jackson’s Moccasins