Monday, February 14, 2011

On Racism: Atlanta, 1979 Jet & 1984 Ebony interviews

Eldredge, Richard. Andrew Young reflects on friend Michael Jackson. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2009-06-25.

* A former Atlanta Mayor and UN Ambassador, Andrew Young, recalled that he had to intercede in early 1980s when Jackson was handcuffed by a security guard in an antiques store:

“Back then, if you were a young black man dressed in blue jeans, a leather jacket, wearing sunglasses and asking to see a $2,000 bracelet, it was thought you were going to steal something.” The charges were dropped once Jackson’s own security guard arrived on the scene. “He wasn’t bitter. He knew it was all a part of the price of fame. It was really a class conflict of the time.”

* “He was a man of great vision. He was a genius at everything he did. But he paid the price for his genius."

* Jackson returned to Atlanta in 1993 to work with former President Jimmy Carter (who co-chaired Heal Our Children with Jackson, an initiative of Jackson's Heal the World Foundation) on an initiative “to encourage the immunization of all children” (part of Heal Atlanta).

*  Young spoke about meeting with Jackson two years ago before Jackson's death where Jackson discussed a “long-range” business plan that would give artists control of their music. Young said, "Through most of his life, he had been exploited and manipulated by adults. He wanted to take back that control."

Johnson, Robert E. Michael Jackson: Nearly 21 but has no marriage plans, dates but not steady, fears love-sick fans, talks about racism and develops own lifestyle. Jet. 1979-08-16. pp. 30-33, 60-62.

From p.62:
* Jackson recalled how badly the Jacksons were treated in southern cities:
The people told us just deal with it (racism) because that’s how the South is. That’s ignorance and it’s taught because it’s not genetic at all. I’m really not a prejudiced person at all. I believe that people should think about God more and creation because if you look at the many wonders inside the human bodies—the different colors of organs…and all these colors do different things in the human body—why can’t we do it as people? "

* “That (racism) is the only thing I hate. I really do. And that’s why I try to write, put it in songs, put it in dance, put it in my art—to teach the world. If politicians can’t do it, poets should put it in poetry and writers should put it in novels. That’s what we have to do and I think it’s so important to save the world.”

* About America’s racial problems, he said: “I wish I could borrow from other countries, say, like Venezuela or Trinidad, the real love and color-blind people and bring it to America. When you travel, you realize how different America is. God, I hate to say this but our people are brainwashed.”

* He recalled his travels in Dakar, Senegal. "I always thought that Blacks, as far as artistry, were the most talented race on earth. But when I went to Africa, I was even more convinced. They do incredible things over there…They got the beats and the rhythm. I really see where drums come from. It makes you think that all Blacks have rhythm….I don’t want the Blacks to ever forget that this is where we come from and where our music comes from. And if we forget, it (Black history) would really get lost. I want us to remember."

From p. 61
"An avid reader, he relies on Black historians to tell him the truth about the heritage of Blacks."

More of this interview, including the above comments and more on his views are included here:
Johnson, Robert E. The Michael Jackson Nobody Knows. Ebony. 1984-12. pp.155-158, 160-162.