Michael Jackson´s experience of racism
La Toya Jackson in her book Growing Up In The Jacksons:
Suddenly he heard, “Help! Help!” It was Michael, yelling from inside the store. Bursting through the door, Bill saw my brother curled up on the floor and a white man kicking him viciously in the head and stomach, screaming with blood curdling venom, “I hate all of you! I hate you!” Over and over he called Michael a nigger.
Bill, a tall, middle aged black man, subdued the attacker and helped up Michael, who was crying and bleeding from several deep cuts. “What’s going on?” he demanded.
“He tried to steal a candy bar!” the man claimed, pointing at my brother. “I saw him put something in his pocket!”
“No, I didn’t!” Michael protested.
“Yes, you did!”
“Wait a minute,” Bill said skeptically. “He doesn’t even like candy and he doesn’t steal. Why would he steal a candy bar?”
It was obvious then that Michael’s attacker had no idea who he was. As far as he was concerned, this was just another black person – another nigger – to abuse. Bill rushed Michael to a local hospital to have his cuts and bruises tended to.
Mother called us from Alabama to tell us what had happened and we all cried in anger and sadness. How could this kind of thing still happen? If Bill hadn’t been with Michael, he might have been killed. Jermaine was livid, threatening to fly to Alabama and take the law into his own hands. It took some time to persuade him that vigilantism was no way to handle the matter.
Instead, a lawsuit was filed against the store owner. Two girls standing outside had witnessed the beating and one offered to testify on Michael’s behalf. We felt very strongly that racial violence must be stopped, but unfortunately, justice did not prevail in this case. The racist harbored no regrets. In fact, discovering that the black man he’d assaulted was a celebrity only inflamed his hatred. Now he threatened to kill Michael. Bill convinced us that this person was mad, that the threat was quite serious, and that it was better for everyone to drop the action. None of us was happy about this, but there was really no choice.
“My Family” by Katherine Jackson:
Michael usually drove himself to Kingdom Hall and his field-service routes. He’d finally gotten his driver’s license in 1981, at the age of twenty-three. Initially he didn’t want to learn to drive.
“I’ll just get a chauffeur when I want to go out,” he said when I began nagging him about getting his license.
“But suppose you’re someplace and your chauffeur gets sick?” I reasoned.
Finally, he relented and took some lessons.
After he began driving, Michael decided that he enjoyed being behind the wheel, after all. The first time he took me for a ride, he ventured up to Mulholland Drive, a winding road in the Hollywood Hills. It was a hair-raising experience.
“I’ve got a crook in my neck and my feet hurt,” LaToya, who was also in the car, complained afterward. “I was putting on the brakes’ with my feet and ‘steering’ the car with my neck trying to keep it on the road. I was so scared!”
It was white-knuckle time for me, too. Michael drove fast. He also had the same habit that I have: driving right up to the car in front and stopping on a dime.
After that, Michael started going out by himself.
“You shouldn’t go out alone,” I told him. “Get Bill Bray to go with you.”
But Michael wouldn’t hear of it. “I’m tired of having security with me every time I go someplace.”
When he began driving, Michael told me that he would never go on freeways; he thought they were too dangerous. So I was shocked one day when Michael suddenly drove us onto a freeway ramp.
“Wait a minute, Michael, what are you doing?”
“I can drive the freeways now!” he said, laughing. He had changed his mind about freeways when he saw just how long it took him to get around Los Angeles without using them.
Michael’s first car was a Mercedes. Then he bought a black Rolls-Royce, which he later painted blue.
It was in the Rolls that he was stopped one day — not for fans outside the gate, but by a Van Nuys policeman.
“This looks like a stolen car,” the officer said. He didn’t recognise Michael, who wasn’t wearing a disguise that day.
Michael explained politely that he did, indeed, own the car. But the officer went ahead and ran a check on the car, and found that Michael had a ticket outstanding.
The next thing Michael knew, he was sitting in the Van Nuys jail.
Bill Bray bailed him out. I didn’t even know what had happened until he came home.
“You should have asked the officer what a stolen car looks like,” I said after he related his adventure. Perhaps the cop had felt that a young black man didn’t belong behind the wheel of a Rolls.
But Michael was not only put out by the experience, he professed to be happy.
“I got to see how it felt to be in jail!” he exclaimed.
Walter Yetnikoff, the president of Jackson’s record label, CBS, approached MTV to play the “Billie Jean” video. He became enraged when MTV refused to play the video, and threatened to go public with MTV’s stance on black musicians. “I said to MTV, ‘I’m pulling everything we have off the air, all our product. I’m not going to give you any more videos. And I’m going to go public and fucking tell them about the fact you don’t want to play music by a black guy.’” MTV relented and played the “Billie Jean” video in heavy rotation.
Jermaine Jackson speaks to Charles Thomson about racism and the music industry:
Michael Jackson's Speech at National Action Network, July 6, 2002
Michael Jackson - Speech Against Sony Music 2002
Wacko Jacko... it´s not nice!
"Is it because he is black?: What they don’t want you to know about Michael Jackson"
by Christopher Hamilton, Thursday, January 5th, 2006:
For years the media has labeled him ‘Wacko Jacko’. What happened to MJ? Wasn’t he the biggest thing in music at one point? When did he go crazy?
All anyone has to do is look when Michael started being portrayed as ‘Crazy’. It wasn’t during the ‘Thriller’ years. It’s cool being a song and dance man. That’s what they want. Don’t dare become a thinking businessman. Don’t' dare buy the Beatles Catalog. Don’t dare marry Elvis’ daughter. Don’t dare beat the record industry at their own game. Michael started being labeled crazy when he began making business moves that no one had been successful at doing.
Michael took two cultural icons and shattered them to pieces. All our lives, we’ve been bombarded with two facts. The Beatles were the greatest group of all time and Elvis was the King of Rock and Roll. Michael bought the Beatles and married the King’s daughter. (if that ain’t literally sticking it to the man) If I wasn’t a cynic, I’d say Michael did the Lisa Marie thing just to stick it to the people who consider Elvis the King.
The Beatles were great, but they weren’t great enough to maintain publishing rights over their own songs.
Elvis was great, but he didn’t write his songs. His manager, Col Tom Parker, was the mastermind behind Elvis… keeping him drugged with fresh subscription pills and doing all the paperwork.
Michael could do no wrong as an entertainer. ‘Off the Wall’, first solo artist with four top ten singles. ‘Thriller’, the biggest selling album of all time, with a then record seven top ten singles. ‘Bad’, the first album to spawn five number one songs (even ‘Thriller’ only had two number one songs). All this is cool. But that is all you better do. Sing and dance. Michael wanted to be greater. He bought the legendary Sly and the Family Stone catalog and no one really cared. When he bought the Beatles, people noticed. The Sony merger took the cake. Sony, in their eagerness to have a part of the Beatles catalog, agreed to a 50/50 merger with Jackson, thus forming Sony/ATV music publishing. Now, Michael co-owns half of the entire publishing of all of Sony artists. Check out the complete lists of songs at sonyatv.com. A sampling of the songs he owns the publishing rights to are over 900 country songs by artists such as Tammy Wynette, Kenny Rogers, Alabama. All Babyface written songs. Latin songs by Selena and Enrique Iglesias. Roberta Flack songs, Mariah Carey songs, Destiny’s Child’s songs. 2pac, Biggie and Fleetwood Mac songs. In essence over 100,000 songs. “What is this man doing?” None of the greats did this. Not Bono, Springsteen, Sinatra. “Who does he think he is? Get whatever you can on him.”
To ‘get’ someone, you have to attack what they love the most. I’ll say no more on that.
The only man who even approaches MJ in taking on the industry is Prince and to a lesser extent, George Michael. They went after poor George Michael, publicly outing the man as a homosexual. Prince fought hard and made his point, but nevertheless still had to resort to using a major company to distribute his materials. There is nothing wrong with that. Prince would get the lion’s share, but the result were years of being labeled crazy and difficult.
The greatest moment for them was the Sneddon press conference. “We got him.” Never was such glee so evident. Who cares if we have evidence?
Michael was acquitted, did not celebrate, went home and left the USA. Best move ever. Now what is there left for the haters to do? He’s gone. “Gone, what do you mean he moved to Bahrain? Well, how the hell can we get him if he’s not here? Quick, get that columnist to write a series of articles on how MJ’s teetering on the brink of destruction. Oh we did that? Well, what can we do?”
On the outer surface, it appears Michael is not doing anything to make money. Don’t even count the weekly sales of his CDs. 15,000 CDs a week is nothing for Michael. The Sony/ATV catalog is money for Michael Jackson every time he breathes. Serious money. The fact that no one reports on the actual amount is proof of that. They would rather you believe he is broke than tell you the truth. Neverland is still owned by MJ. The family home in Encino is still owned by MJ. Michael still owns the Beatles songs through the merger with Sony as well as full ownership of his own songs. But, hey, that’s our little secret.
Michael Jackson is literally walking in the shoes that no Black person has ever walked in before. If he ever writes an autobiography, it will be one of the most interesting ever. A Black man with no real formal education becomes the most powerful man in the industry, despite hatred, racism, enemies in his own camps and a media willing to be bought to the highest bidder.
If Sony had any sense, right now they should offer to continue the partnership. That’s the only way they will make future money off of Michael’s catalogue. Tommy Mattola did not lose his job with Sony because he was a bad label head. It was a casualty of war. MJ exposed him and Sony had to cut their losses. Companies do it all the time. Notice no one at Sony nor did Matolla himself ever sue MJ for slander. Michael always was loyal to his bosses at Epic/Sony. Back at the 1984 Grammys, he even brought then label head Walter Yetnikoff on stage with him at one point. He’s always thanked Dave Glew, Mattola and others at Sony in his acceptance speeches.
Sony can still do right by Michael, but it may be too late. However, they still should make a goodwill gesture, but how many times do businesses do that? If I were them, I’d still want MJ as an ally, not as an enemy. It is/was a mutually profitable merger.
I’d be scared as hell if I was an enemy of MJ while he is with the multi-billionaires overseas. Believe me, they aren’t just over there discussing designer clothing. A conglomerate is in the making.
One last note, these facts that I write here should not be the only times you hear this, but the sad fact is it probably is. I was worried that Michael would go down because of the uncertainty of the jury. That’s playing unfair. If I’m presenting these facts here at EURweb, you can believe the media knows it already as well. They aren’t salivating over everything MJ related just because he made ‘Thriller’. They know what’s up. Think about it. That’s why I laugh when I see shows like BET’s ‘The Ultimate Hustler’. We all know who that is. (How can Damon Dash know who the ultimate hustler is anyway? He lost Roc-a-fella to Jay-Z)
In the end, Michael won’t be known for being an alleged child molester. He won’t be known for ‘Thriller’. He will be known as the man that fought the record industry and won and lived to tell the tale. That is a book worth buying.
Christopher Hamilton is a freelance entertainment writer. He can be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
“You Are Not Alone,” by Jermaine Jackson
One day, Michael decided he wanted a llama. He asked me to take him to nearby Agora and we ended up at this lot packed with hay and horse trailers. From the car, we eyed four llamas out back. I parked between two trailers, unintentionally shielding my Mercedes from view. It was the only parking spot available. When we walked into the office – two kids dressed casual but smart in T shirt and jeans – this guy, bent across a counter doing some paperwork, didn’t even look up when he said, “We’re not hiring.”
“We ain’t looking for no job,” said Michael, wearing his shades. “We’re here to buy a llama.”
The man looked up. Not a flicker of recognition on his face. It took me about two seconds to know that his musical taste ventured nowhere near the Thriller album. “We don’t have any llamas,” he said. The look on his face said it all: you can’t afford it.
“You have four of them out back,” I said, trying to keep calm.
“You know how much they cost?”
Michael smiled. “We know how much they cost.”
Then came an incredible bombardment of questions, fired by the man’s prejudices and assumptions. “Can you afford a llama? What do you boys do to afford a llama? Where will you keep it? Have you ever thought about this?”
Ever patient, Michael explained that we had a house with grounds and were serious customers. “I know how to look after all kinds of animals,” he added.
The man begrudgingly asked to see some ID. Michael handed over a bank card. I handed over my driving license. And then night became day.
“You’re those Jackson boys?” said the man, his face lighting up. He began to back-pedal about how he had to be careful and he couldn’t sell to just anyone; you understand how it is. Bu we didn’t understand: we saw right through him.
“So you’re happy to accept me because now you know who I am?” Michael asked. The biggest misconception people had about my brother was that his legendary shyness made him timid, but he was a man of principle, especially where his roots as a proud black man were concerned and he wasn’t afraid to speak up on this when riled. Michael took back his ID and came right out with it: “You are an ass, and we don’t want to spend our money in here any more.” Then we walked out to the Mercedes the man had failed to spot when we arrived.
On the drive home, Michael was exasperated. “Can you believe that? What is this area about? What are they teaching their kids?”
We had always been told by our parents that no one is born with a prejudice. It is something that is taught, ignorance passed down from generation to generation. The more Michael brooded, the more fired up he became. He told me to drive to Tito’s.
That afternoon, Tito’s acoustic guitar and our free styling lyrics captured an angry inspiration for a song we called “What’s Your Life?” That was how Michael liked to work. When a true experience inspired a song, he liked to get it down on his tape recorder or in the nearest studio. We recorded that song within an hour at Tito’s studio, also in Encino.