An Almost Apology….from the Uppity Negro


If you want to view this an apology, by all means do so, but even I’ll admit it’s going to be a half-hearted one.

I talked over the whole Michael Jackson death with my friend on Sunday afternoon and I was telling him how I felt and what I had written on my blog.  We came around to the conclusion that perhaps another pertinent question I should have proposed was how, or rather, why did Michael Jackson’s music have such a global and staying impact?  What about him was different than any other star or celebrity–musically?  He also pointed out to me that in fact music is timeless.

All of which I agreed with.

So, then I forced myself into asking why in the hell did I get worked up about it and felt compelled to write two blog posts about it when at most I planned to just put up his picture but the birth year and 2009 and call it a day–and that was if I remembered to do so seeing as how Michael Jackson’s music weren’t a soundtrack to my early life.  

Ahhhhh….I remember.  I made a joke, “two famous white women died yesterday” and someone–who shall remain nameless–told me via tweet that I was wrong and that I should delete that tweet.

All of this stemmed from me feeling that I was being censored for my opinions.  

I felt, and still feel that my Facebook status messages or tweets on Twitter should not have such power as to offend or affect someone seeing as how I didn’t specifically write a message to one individual.  My opinions count just as much as the feelings and emotions of others.  I just felt personally that in all fairness that there should always be a dissenting opinion: groupthink is a terrible place to find one’s self situated.  There is no guarantee that when emotions are raw that the masses won’t erupt in hysteria lest a voice of reason asks the group to slow down before they make their decisions.

That’s all I was doing–giving an opposite opinion.  Not just for the sake of doing so, but actually because I really felt that way, and still do.  Nothing has changed on that front.  However, one of the joys of being a blogger is having a platform to say so, and people actually read and respond to it.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

3 thoughts on “An Almost Apology….from the Uppity Negro

  1. You asked a question to which I have yet to respond fully. Why is it that if I didn’t “get” the implications of the death and John Lennon, I feel you ought to “get” the implications of Michael Jackson’s death.

    And, frankly, I don’t think you ought to “get” the implications–at least not fully.

    But I want to raise two objections to your blog-posts to date:

    1) “Two white women”: Yes, I know you were intentionally being controversial (which is often your m. o.) However, all controversy (and graveyard humor) aside, Michael Jackson never once called himself anything other than African American, and never once, in his videos, distanced himself from the black community. Instead, his work is replete with black stars, black dance, black rhythms, black moves. He stands in a long line of black dancers that includes such undisputed greats as Calloway, Davis, and Brown (Cab, Sammy, and James). I grant that his appearance in later life was strange to me. But, I wonder about young folks with tattoos, pierced ears, mohawks, and relaxers and other body-alterations who feel they have the right to judge anyone who engages in similar body-altering behavior, especially when this behavior comes in response to internalized abuse and a real, documented medical condition. There is a strong blog post to this regard by Carmen van Kerckhove on AC 360:

    2) It is not the DEATH of the man that matters, per se. It is the way in which the death punctuates the impact of the LIFE of the man. That is, Jackson’s death is being noted so strongly not because he DIED, but because of what he contributed to the global community–musically and terspichorially and philanthropically–when he LIVED. For the same reason, Farrah Fawcett and Billy Mays’ deaths are not as remarked upon–not because their deaths were not as permanent, but because their lives had far less impact on the international community, on black music (yes, I said it and the reality is all over the place, if you do your research), on race relations, on poverty and AIDS, and in general on who we are as a people. Farrah died, arguably, a good death; but besides posing in a red swim suit, having feathered hair, and starring for one season in Charlies Angels, what exactly did she give back to the world? And as for Billy Mays, your own post said it best: “Who?”

    In Azerbaijan, no one asks “Michael Jackson who?” In AIDS circles around the world and in philanthropies against global poverty, no one asks “We Are the World? What is that?” Farrah did not have the power to sell out 50 stadiums of people in 10 minutes. Billy Mays never gave poor kids in Brazil, and South Africa, and all over the world hope. There is an unexamined privilege and power underlying your inability to understand the impact of the live of this one man on people all over the world,–through the way he lived, he sang, he worked.

    That is not because he died. It is, ultimately, because of how he LIVED.

    And you have every right not to get it.

  2. Uppity Prof,

    You said it so much better than I. I am all emotional about Michael Jackson’s death. I guess stunned.

    It is important to know the history of the MAN, Michael Jackson. He was a giant internationally and it is a damn shame that many of his people at home dismiss him so casually.

  3. ‘Uppity Professor” Thank you! What I find particularly perplexing is how people who claim they know nothing of the man’s talents and life, yet argue that he does not deserve the accolades he is receiving in response to his death. The underlying snarkiness is strange. I think you said it best: they have every right NOT to get it. Bravo.

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