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Thursday
Jul022009

I'm Sorry, Michael - Chris "Preach" Smith

 

 

If there's anything I would say to Michael Jackson given the chance before his tragic exit from this earth, it's this: I am sorry. I am so sorry that your life was never really your own, manipulated by a father that saw dollar signs and a way to escape the hardships of Gary, Indiana on the backs of you and your siblings. I'm still shaking my head over how he shamelessly plugged his record label two days after you took your last breath on the red carpet of an awards show. But you knew how low the man could be; why else would he not be named in your will? I am sorry that even in death, there is an obsession with picking you apart like a holiday turkey.

It's as if with every 15 minutes, someone pops up with a new story about your past or an 'anonymous' source has decided to share a tidbit of gossip because as we all know with American media, rumors are worth more than the lives of soldiers in Mosul or Tora Bora from time to time. Which brings me to the question: who made the command decision to search for Bubbles the chimp? And will Martin Bashir now come under heavy scrutiny? We can only wonder Michael, if he finds himself swimming in remorse in those solitary moments. He, not unlike your father and others, rose to prominence while shoving you into a morass of misery.

 

Michael, I feel very sorry that you felt that your blackness was a burden to the point where you mutilated yourself.

I don't claim to be a psychiatrist, but I remember having a talk with a friend of mine about another topic, which was aggressive lesbians and their outward persona of machismo. And what she told me was essentially that they took on that persona because it represented strength and power, power they never really had. Maybe you felt the same way. Maybe that's what drove you to those surgeries that destroyed your skin, eradicated your nose.

Michael, I feel very sorry that you felt that your blackness was a burden to the point where you mutilated yourself.You lived a struggle that some of us still deal with internally. And I'm sorry that you were so wrought with confusion as your life went on. Most people have a childhood. You had a career at the age of nine. And you wanted that childhood, even while possibly making the most horrible of decisions an adult can make while in the presence of children. Most of all, I'm sorry that it took your death for me, all of us to sit back and reflect just how much you gave to the world through your musical genius. And how much it cost you mentally and physically.

At last word of your death, you were balding in spots, riddled with needle marks and weighed in at 112 pounds. I will feel a great deal of pain as I see 21st century minstrels with idiotic jewelry who hide their lack of talent behind technological advances and send shout outs to slave traders. And hope that someone will stop the fiends at Westboro Church who warped one of your greatest songs for their own sick agenda. But, that pain will be temporary.

Because I will remember you always as the child who sang with such soul in the 60's. I'll remember saying goodbye to one of my first loves as 'Maybe Tomorrow played in the background. To me, no late night out in the carefree jungle of New York City will be complete without 'Off The Wall' being part of the soundtrack. And I will observe how your life is a lesson..that those who seem to have it all have nothing but hurt and emptiness. Yet they too, can make a great impact on the world. And all of the apologies will be a bridge to the peace that you never had here.

Rest in peace Michael Jackson.

Sunday
May032009

Barack is NOT your "Magic Negro" - Chris "Preach" Smith

I had waited an entire lifetime for this moment. Even enduring a couple of frigid hours traversing the streets among hundreds of people wasn’t going to put a damper on this day. For here, in that crisp chill of a January morning, I stood among two million people who clogged the heart of Washington DC to witness Barack Hussein Obama become the 44th President of the United States. In some ways, it is still a surreal feeling to see a Black man as the leader of the free world, even more so when you consider that more than ten years ago in this same nation, a black man by the name of James Byrd was dragged behind a truck to his death on a dirt road in Texas. And even going back as little as two years ago with the tragedy of Sean Bell in Jamaica, Queens. But this day represented people of color reaching a summit once thought impossible. 


Obama has been elevated to messiah-like status, partially due to the workings of his campaign, but also due to eight years of abject misery under the previous administration. And it is that image which has to be respected but ultimately ignored. Why? Because Barack Obama cannot and should not be tagged with the burden of being the ‘Magic Negro’.

Now you’ve probably heard this term as much as you’ve seen it displayed on television and film. From Huckleberry Finn’s Jim to ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance’, the ‘Magic Negro’ is an image and an idea that certain cross-sections of America (and to some degree, the world) could still view people of color in a way that was non-threatening and even highly beneficial to them. Provocative and ultimately denigrating, this has been attached to Barack Obama as he has begun his own administration. And as he has finished his first 100 days in office, there are some who feel disenchanted with him now.

A recent example is the absurd sentiment that surrounded the ‘tea parties’ that protested tax measures imposed by the government. It became more pointed at the belief that Obama betrayed them. If you tune into Fox News, it’s as if he has become a source of betrayal for those who haven’t experienced an immediate 360 degree change. 

The bottom line is this: for Obama to be successful ultimately, and for this country to heal and grow, as it should, such a viewpoint needs to be abandoned. If you’re griping that he hasn’t legalized marijuana in California even though he closed Gitanimo Bay and has made other significant strides where he could, then you may need to take your political viewpoints out of the adolescent stages. And let Penn and Teller perform the magic tricks. I heard they’ll be backing up Joseph Lieberman at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

[Photograph: (c) Brennan Linsley/AP]

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