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One wacky, wild week

05 Jun 2005

So let us start of with the ongoing saga of Mr. Michael Jackson. In Saturday’s Toronto Star (June 4, 2005), Ashante Infantry (who might just be the only black reporter on the Star’s staff) ponders Jackson’s fate as the trial wrapped up their deliberations this week. The focus on her story is because there was no African-Americans on the jury panel, which consisted of seven whites, four Hispanics and one Asian person; it might hurt Jackson''s chance of being acquitted.

According to the jury consultant Marshall Hennington, by having African-Americans on the jury, issues regarding burden of proof would be raised. Which does makes sense, given the long history of injustice regarding blacks, but alludes to the idea that the current jury will not, simply because they are not black. But I took this whole ‘no niggas on the jury'' more like a slap on the face.

Let’s all hold hands and say it one more time: the ‘black race’ is not a monolithic entity. We do not all think the same and some of us (myself included) do not believe that we have to blindly support everyone simply because we share the same ethnic / cultural background. When the announcement about the cultural makeup of the jury was made public, I was secretly pleased. Pleased, even though there was still a chance that they might be racist, but still satisfied because of the disturbing images of black celebrities cheering Jackson on, ignoring the very serious crimes he was facing in favor of proclaiming him the “King of Pop.”

I can understand the reluctance of black artists who feel that they owe Jackson for paving the way towards public acceptance and stardom for them, to openly criticize him. It doesn’t look good in the eyes of their fans and as witnessed by the whole Tommy Motolla  / Sony debacle, Jackson still wields a lot of power in the music industry – just ignore his insane behaviour during the course proceedings. As a 46 year-old man who has been in the business for over 35 years, he is - and has to be - a very, shrewd businessman.

But the most important part of this week was the prosecution’s closing arguments. The prosecutors showed a tape made by the police of a statement by the alleged victim. In doing this, they brought the case back to why Jackson was on trial in the first place: this is about a charge of the sexual molestation of a 13 year-old cancer patient, not about how wonderful Jackson is. This story is about a slimy pedophile that, if the rumors are accurate, has been getting away with this for decades.

I stopped liking Jackson and his music when I was a teenager because I am not a big fan of pop music. I also wondered why a black man was so ashamed of himself that he started bleaching his skin, plastic surgery and wearing women’s wigs (and makeup) and that, like in the David Chapelle skit, that he should have been ‘given away’ to the white contingent. But there is a lot of irony in his physical appearance and the charges against him, because if he was a middle-class white man / woman or whatever he thinks he is, his ass would have been in jail a long time ago.

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