The video above is Tammy Johnson from RaceWire on Jackson’s death. Here’s the text that accompanies the vid:

He tipped his hat and moonwalked across the stage like no one had ever before. Even Fred Astaire had to give Michael his props. But today, Thursday, June 25, the King of Pop is dead. Michael Jackson’s made his mark on the world, body and soul. But what we must not forget is that world marked Jackson as well. In his last days, assimilation and denial were sadly written all over his face. In death, we pray that peace finally finds the music man.

I was in NYC and riding the subway when I saw a dad and his 3 young kids who were on their way home after the Apollo Theater memorial to Michael Jackson. It was moving to see a caring black dad celebrating history and culture with some bright-looking kids. Yet those kids and that dad were all as brown as Michael had been once upon a time.

How do you explain to young African-Americans the level of self-hatred and amount of money required to turn yourself from a handsome black man into an attractive white woman? Has anyone seen Anne Hathaway lately, btw? Were she and MJ ever seen together? …I’m just askin’…

He was socially conscious, culturally curious and international, philanthropic, activist, compassionate, charismatic, business-savvy, and one of the greatest artists the world has ever know. He was also probably a pretty active (prescription) drug abuser, possibly afraid to tell the world he was actually gay (try and name an out-of-the-closet black gay celebrity – historically ours is not the most tolerant of cultures there), worshiped the god of bling, surrounded himself with an entourage of enabling, greedy yes men and sycophants — and danced with black women in his videos while marrying and publicly dating only white women. The fact is that Michael Jackson represents in one man all the best and the worst of African-American culture. And thus his relationship with his root culture and our reaction to him must  necessarily be complex.

It’s not just me. Here’s Quincy Jones who knew Michael very well, speaking to Men.Style.Com in the wake of Michael’s death:

Q: But it must’ve been so disturbing to see Michael’s face turn into what it turned into.
A: It’s ridiculous, man! Chemical peels and all of it. And I don’t understand it. But he obviously didn’t want to be black.

Q: Is that what it was?
A: Well, what do you think? You see his kids?

Q: Did you ever discuss it? Did you ever ask, “Michael, don’t you want to be a black man?”
A: No, no, no, please. That’s not the way you do it.

Q: But he was beautiful before?
A: Man, he was the most gorgeous guy.

I loved Michael Jackson. I was a huge fan. Yet, Voltaire famously said:

“We owe respect to the living. To the dead we owe only truth.”

Some folks got it the other way around and don’t want to look at the truth of Michael Jackson’s life and death now that he’s gone. Michael was right — it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white. Except maybe when you try to change yourself from black to white. There’s so much to learn from his triumphant yet tragic story. And it’s critical that we show the world that while we loved him, that we aren’t blind to his flaws — that we celebrate his contributions while recognizing the cautionary tale he ultimately represents for all of us.

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