I probably should not write when I’m upset. But I’m going to do it anyway. I warn that you won’t find this pleasant on this Universal Children’s Day. But I assure you, the World’s children find it even more unpleasant than you ever will. I’ve done my best on Twitter and Facebook to bring attention to these things for the past two days, but they’ve gone completely, utterly ignored. It’s all fallen on deaf ears and into blind eyes.
We all claim to care so much about the World’s children, but when they’re sitting there staring us in the face, charred to death in the latest airstrikes wherever, we really don’t.
We care so much about the celebrity who cared for these children, but we don’t care for them – the children themselves. In the end, what seems to matter to us is our own fantasies of having been somehow important to, or somehow being associated with said celebrity, even if only in spirit since he’s gone. It’s really just all about us, isn’t it? It certainly looks that way, from the lack of attention and response these things have gotten when I shared them.
But the kids MJ lived for and the world they live in? The innocents who ask: “why are we included in these adult fights? Why can’t we have a normal childhood without all this fighting and violence? What did we do to deserve this?”
The ones who are charred to death by the airstrikes? The ones who are trafficked and sexually abused? What about them? Not a word. Not one comment. I’ve posted photos. Videos. Michael’s own handwritten words. News clippings. But not one response. Nothing. Not even on Universal Children’s Day. Their innocent voices remain ignored, it seems.
I wonder what MJ would say about all this? Would he be impressed with us? He’d be heartbroken about these kids, for sure. Do his fans pretend to care because he’d want them to care – or because they really care? It appears to be more the former than the latter for far too many of them. Not all of course, but far too many. This is just something to think about as you gaze down this page at what I’m about to share with you.
First of all, Palestine (and by association what is currently going on in Gaza at the hands of Hamas and Israel). Below are some lyrics to a song that Michael wrote but was apparently never released or published:
“Palestine” – written by Michael Jackson
“Bomb shells are flying, bodies multiplying, see the children crying, what are they fighting for” is part of what Michael had written above.
A child in Gaza, the region that has been blown once again to smithereens in the past few days, asks a similar question in the following video – it’s at the very end and the video is unceremoniously cut off, as if the creator and/or the news media felt what this child had to say was unimportant. But the child’s question deserves an answer.
Can you answer the child’s question in the end of the video?
The child below was charred – possibly to death – by an airstrike in Gaza on Monday November 19th, 2012.
Child charred in Gaza airstrikes, November 2012
Is this “too difficult” for you to look at or respond to? Imagine how it felt for the child. Imagine how it feels for all of them. Whoever you might feel to be at fault in this latest conflict, this child knows nothing of adult conflicts, nor should (s)he have to. The height of immorality is that (s)he and so many others have been made to suffer (or die) for things they know nothing of and are not involved in.
And just a few moments ago, this story appeared on my twitter timeline:
Study describes range of sexual crimes perpetrated mainly against girls by male teenage gang members and older men
Thousands of children are raped and abused each year, with many more cases going unreported by victims and unrecorded by the authorities, according to an official study presented as the most comprehensive inquiry to date of the scale and prevalence of child sexual exploitation in England.
The disturbing and at times horrific study, which describes a range of traumatic and violent sexual crimes perpetrated mainly against girls, by male teenage gang members and groups of older men, was described as a “wake-up call” for safeguarding professionals by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England (OCCE).
It draws an alarming picture of serious sexual crimes against children: girls groomed, then drugged and raped at seedy “parties” in private homes and warehouses organised by groups of men, for profit or pleasure; assaults in public parks, schools and alleyways by gang members influenced by violent pornography, and intent on threatening, punishing or controlling young women by means of forced oral sex, and anal and vaginal rape.”
. . .
“We need to ask why so many males, both young and old, think it is acceptable to treat both girls and boys as objects to be used and abused. We need to know why so many adults in positions of responsibility persist in not believing these children when they try to tell someone what they have endured.”
Oh I know these images and stories are very upsetting and may even be an emotional trigger for some readers. But just imagine what it’s like for these kids to have to live (or die) like this, all around the world.
Should we just ignore all this because it’s “too hard” for us to look at or acknowledge or because we just don’t know what to say? If we do that, then we can be assured that this suffering will only continue. The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that one exists. And plenty of them exist where the children in this World are concerned. These awful stories and images are only a few of them. I know too that most people feel there’s nothing they can do about these issues. One thing we can all do is:
C A R E
Care enough to look at these horrific images, and listen to the kids asking “why” and to read the stories of the hideous abuse they suffer. Even if it is hard for you to look at or listen to or read. Forget yourself for just a moment or whose side you’re on. What about THEM? How is any of this ever going to be stopped if nobody CARES enough to even notice?
On this Universal Children’s Day, you can at least do that, can’t you?
Hello? Anybody out there?
“while everyone is freaking out over twinkies, can we please take a moment to #pray for all the lives taken in the middle east ?” –Paris Jackson
While you live in your safe, warm home anticipating whatever holidays that may be upcoming in your part of the world, having plenty of food to eat, having clean water, and being able to educate and hug your children and keep them safe from the worst harm or neglect, can you at least take a moment to care about these other kids in the world that we alleged adults force them to live in?
If it matters to you, I’ll tell you that it might make Michael happy. But we should all care regardless what he’d feel about it. Because somebody still needs to.
You don’t have to say anything. You don’t have to do anything right now. But you can at least care enough to look, to see it. Even if it upsets you.
Such as it is, at best a shell of the word. While you may have gained independence from Great Britain in 1776, you have since given it away lock, stock, and barrel to the Great Corporations. Corporations rule and run your country and you are as dependent upon them as a newborn babe on it’s mother. While becoming so, you forgot about your real Mother, Earth, and gave your national independence away to the highest corporate bidder. It wasn’t a very wise direction for you to take, I must say. And look where it’s got you.
At least one man, Michael Jackson, had the wisdom and courage to ask the question: “What more can I give?” – rather than “What more can I GET?” or “What more can I TAKE?” like most corporations and sadly, your nation does. And its history shows that. Time and time again.
You destroyed that man, America. Your media and your legal and political system lynched an innocent man who only wanted to convince yourselves along with the rest of the world to take a look in the mirror to change the world for the better by bettering themselves first.
Instead of doing that, you (your corporate-owned, greed-driven media) made ammunition of all that you should despise about yourselves and aimed it at HIM. You shot the messenger instead of getting the message. Now, he’s dead and you are a failed nation because once again, in all your notorious arrogance – you would not listen. America, you couldn’t see yourselves in your own mirror even if you looked now because it’s covered in oil.
And still you haven’t learned. You destroyed a brilliant light. You destroyed a man that any other country might have been proud to call their son. You persecuted, ridiculed, belittled, and lynched him – and you allowed others to extort and abuse him without consequence to themselves.
Oh, so he was ‘different‘ and you didn’t understand him? That’s a reason to destroy someone? Because they’re different than your status quo and/or you do not understand them?
Where is the ‘freedom and independence‘ of a country that crucifies someone for being ‘different‘? A country which destroys, demonizes and dehumanizes anyone they don’t understand, because they don’t want to be bothered trying and it’s more profitable to just get rid of them for their resources, be it music or oil. That’s your history, America. Independence in such an immoral form doesn’t exist, though you guys try to make a nice pretense of it. A very thin pretense I might add. It’s not sellable nor is it anything to be proud of.
As much as that hideous mess in your Gulf of Mexico and in your Yellowstone River right now, this is also a catastrophe and is borne of the same disease: greed. In the case of Michael Jackson’s demise, as the demise of the Gulf of Mexico and the Yellowstone River, you haven’t the self-awareness or honesty to recognize, acknowledge, or admit what a loss it truly is. Ignorance abounds thanks to your wholly corporate-owned media, which your laws allow to run rampant when they should not, and which your government muzzles when it should not. And every time it does, something or someone whose value cannot be measured in mere dollars is destroyed in favor of corporate profit.
There is a media blackout as I write this, assisted by the government – federal and local – regarding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster and its continued disasterous effects. If there was a time when the media ought to have maximum voice, it’s now. If there was a time when the media’s voice should have been controlled and regulated by the tremendous responsibility which ought to come with the tremendous power of being able to shape public opinion, it was when Michael Jackson was alive, in regards to every slanted vicious lie told about him. And those lies are still being told about him because your media can still make money off of those lies. And still, as ever, they are not held accountable for their lies and the damage they’ve done and continue to do to the man’s legacy and family. If these predatory parasites can do this to Michael Jackson, who will they do it to next? You? Me? Your brother, mother, family? If they can make a buck selling lies about you, they will. They’ll do it to anybody. And worse, they’ll get away with it because the almighty dollar rules.
Yes, American corporate-owned media helped send Michael Jackson to an early grave. The political and legal system in the United States, corrupt from top to bottom, also helped to send Michael Jackson to an early grave and there will be no justice hence for his murder either. Just like the concept of “independence” in America is non-existent, propped up by sheer propaganda and pretense, so is the the concept of “justice”. There is little of either in the United States of America, as nice as these concepts are.
When your media need to be heard for the benefit of the people, your government silences them. When the media need to be controlled and regulated for the benefit of the people, you allow them to destroy those same people and their world with bad and unethical reporting, without bounds or consequence. Seems a little backward to me. But then a lot about America does these days. When corporate profit rules, truth and morality go straight out the window. “God” in the United States of America is the god-damned dollar bill.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms- of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.” -Frederick Douglass Independence Day Speech
Pray tell America, what brand of “independence” is this you’re celebrating? And what brand of morality is it which you so vehemently pretend to subscribe to? You are not “One Nation Under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all“. That’s a cute and comforting phrase to teach the kids, but it’s not true and is hardly appropriate preparation for what they are going to have to face when they try to live and survive in this brutal country as adults. Because the truth is, America is one nation under Money, sorely divided, with liberty and justice for corporations and little for anyone else. Even our own “supreme court” (which has little credibility itself anymore and exists solely to protect corporations) has declared these predatory, parasitic, psychopathic entities “people“.
I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
-General Smedley Darlington Butler, 1933
I will not let you forget, America. I will not let you forget those you murder around the world for corporate and political domination, for corporate profit and hegemony. I will not let you forget about your theft of resources from this or other countries while indebting their desperate people to you for that theft. I will not let you forget the planet you are helping destroy because you refuse to lead the rest of the world in saving it, favoring the savior of corporate profits instead. I will not let you forget your modus operandi of disaster capitalism which plays out over and over again each time a national or international disaster strikes. I will not let you forget your past of enslaving black people. And I will never let you forget what you did to an innocent black man, Michael Jackson – one of the finest men who ever lived. A man who, because of unethical corporate propaganda and manipulation, because of an abusive and highly corrupt legal and political system, is unjustifiably reviled by too many of yours rather than being a source of pride that such a brilliant artist and human being ought to be to your country and to the world.
And this is through no fault of his own. You defined him (or allowed him to be defined) in false and negative terms and then lynched him based on that definition. Looking at the life, words, art, and actions of this man tells quite a different story however, about who he really was. Not that I expect this country to ever recognize or acknowledge that, or to even remember or care, considering your reputation where treatment of African-Americans is concerned, both past and present.
Let me ask you THIS America: If the likes of Michael Jackson, your Gulf of Mexico, your Yellowstone River, your Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, and millions of orphaned and starving children in the US and around the world are so disposable and expendable to your country as they evidently are, then what and who else is? The answer would have to be most everyone and everything: Myself. My family. And the families of whoever is reading this, as well. Any families. All families. Everywhere. How moral is that?
Would the “God” you so pretentiously pretend to worship, approve?
You might try for once, asking “What more can we GIVE?” – rather than “What more can we GET?” or “What more can we TAKE?“. You might try requiring the corporations which do business within and without your shores to do the same. You might try requiring your politicians to have the same attitude rather than just jockeying to acquire or save their political butts and collecting corporate dollars for their campaigns. You might try a Department of Peace instead of Department of War (Defense). You might just try doing something different instead of doing the same thing over and over and getting the same or worse results. Until you do so, you are a failed state and each failure is cumulative and therefore worse than the last.
You, America, are going straight to Hell (literally or figuratively speaking) and you have no one to blame but yourselves.
How many starving, homeless children live in the U.S.? How many are living in abject poverty? Why isn’t this reported on the news? Because they are expendable. What is your excuse for this, America?
How many orphans have you created in Iraq? Last count I’m aware of was 2010 and there were one million orphaned children there whose parents had been killed by the illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of that country. Most of them live in the street. And why isn’t this reported on the news? Because they are expendable. And for what have you done this? What could justify it?
Yes, Happy “Independence” Day America.
What you are independent of in the United States seems to be all the wrong things: a conscience, any sense of morality, any sense of your real Mother (Earth), any sense of wise, sensible, or compassionate leadership or any sense of caring for the people within your own shores much less anywhere else in the world. As for animals, the poor, children, the elderly … you know those old people dumped in the alleyways by your “health care” system like so much trash? All of them are expendable for corporate profit. Just like Michael Jackson was.
And you, America, let this happen. You are the architect of your own demise. Sorry I cannot be more encouraging to you on your day of celebration. If you want a sunnier sentiment, you’ll have to earn it by correcting some things – and I mean in a major way. Because at the moment, you are a major source of shame for your people. I know. I’m one of them. I do not align myself with either of what are purportedly two different political parties in this country, so do not try to categorize my sentiments within either of them. They won’t fit.
America, if you’re at all interested in changing anything that is wrong with your country, and there is plenty of it, you might start with listening to Michael Jackson’s music and studying his lyrics whilst keeping your televisions off, your noses out of tabloids and your earplugs firmly inserted when the likes of Diane Dimond, Maureene Orth, Andrea Peyser, Martin Bashir et al are defacating from their mouths. CLUE for Americans and everyone else who reads this: The truth about Michael Jackson is in his music and his own words, not the profit-driven corporate media or the bogus claims of extortionists and hangers-on who are after money.
America, you cannot afford your own arrogance right now. The world cannot afford your arrogance right now. It never could.
You might try extricating your lives and minds from the corporate tit and reducing and regulating their control over your country and particularly your government. Because right now, they own you, top to bottom. Corporations. All of them. They own your government, your lives, your children, and your minds. You are not free. You are not independent. Because if you were, your Gulf of Mexico would still be clean and thriving, as would your Yellowstone River. What has happened there would have never happened due to proper and enforced regulations (see Norway), and we’d have clean energy by now owned and controlled by people and their communities — not greedy soulless corporations whom your highest court believes ought to be able to plunder and pillage the planet and the economy with utter impunity.
And yes, Michael Jackson would still be alive and his children would have their father.
Seems to me rather than celebrating a non-existent and quite pretentious “independence” in this land you stole from Native American Indians, in this country built by the torture and sweat of African-American slaves, and subsequently sold to the highest corporate bidder, you ought to instead be feverishly working to correct the problems that are preventing you from having any true independence as a nation – much less an independence you can be proud of on this or any other day.
Elizabeth Taylor, when asked if Michael Jackson would ever return to live in the United States again, replied: “Well really why should he? He’s been treated like dirt here.” See around 3:09 in the video below. I wish Michael Jackson had never set foot again in this barbaric, ignorant country. Had he not, he’d likely still be alive today. It’s an absolute shame that Michael was shredded to death by American society, and also that the United States is too ignorant and too arrogant to even realize what it’s done – not only to Michael Jackson but also to itself – and by extension, the World.
The United States will never be independent of its own avarice, ignorance, and its own barbaric legacy for two reasons: 1) Myself and many others will not allow it to be forgotten; and 2) these things simply have repercussions in the future. America is busily lynching itself and is too stupid to even realize it.
Yes America, you have a lot of damage to both acknowledge and to undo. Meanwhile, your pretentious “dog and pony” show isn’t working. Have a nice day and enjoy your “Independence” (such as it is). When you get back off your holiday, you might want to do something about your country.
It’s been 35 months since Michael died. But maybe there’s something else he wants us to remember today since this popped up once again across my computer screen: Twenty seven years and two months ago, a group of children including child stars Alyssa Milano, Fergie (now of the Black-eyed Peas) and Drew Barrymore made history by getting together to record a children’s version of ‘We Are The World’. Little has been heard of this version of ‘We Are The World‘ since then, but it’s not to be missed. It meant a lot to Michael, who said:
I had thought that song should be sung by children. When I finally heard children singing it on producer George Duke’s version, I almost cried. It’s the best version I’ve heard.
– Michael Jackson (Moonwalk)
The ‘Children Of The World Project’ was the brainchild of radio personality Sonny Melendrez and and produced by George Duke who also worked with Michael on his ‘Off the Wall‘ album. This children’s version of the song was nominated for a Grammy in the ‘Best Recording for Children‘ category in 1986.
As my radio alarm clock went off one morning in March of 1985 I was awakened by the pure voice of a child singing the words, “We are the world. We are the children.” In my groggy state, I remember thinking to myself that I wish I had thought of that obvious idea: A children’s version of the worldwide anthem – We Are The World.
Then, as I gained consciousness, I realized that the “child” I had heard was, in fact, Michael Jackson and what I was listening to was the original recording.
I sprang out of bed and called my producer. That afternoon, on my KMGG Radio show, I shared my vision of gathering the most talented children in Los Angeles and giving them the opportunity to do their part for the charity created to benefit those starving in Ethiopia – USA For Africa.
The response was overwhelming to say the least, with hundreds of parents and kids calling and wanting to be a part of the idea.
The Children of the World Project was born.
When Michael Jackson, who had penned the song with Lionel Ritchie, heard about the project he immediately gave it his blessing and even suggested his talented nieces, Brittny and Valencia Jackson, audition as well. They did and appeared on the recording
After several weeks and with the help of countless volunteers, including my friend and entertainment professional, Roger Neal, we had auditioned over 1500 children in various locations throughout Southern California. Every effort was made to make each child, ages 5 to 17, feel special about what and why they were auditioning. Everyone was presented a certificate and t-shirt commemorating their participation.
I contacted award winning producer, George Duke and asked if he join us. He not only accepted, but brought in legendary musicians, Stanley Clarke, Phillip Bailey, and Journey’s Steve Smith among to play on the track.
After personally calling every one of the 50 who were chosen (and you can imagine their enthusiastic reactions), under the direction of musical pro Martha Woodhull, the choir then spent several weeks rehearsing their parts.
Sonny records with Stacy Ferguson aka ‘Fergie’
In addition to these incredibly talented voices, we added another group of child stars with the understanding that everyone would be treated equally, regardless of their name or credits. This had been the same policy adopted by the original cast of We Are The World. This group included, Drew Barrymore, Danielle Brisebois, Alyssa Milano, Danny Pintauro, and others.
Then, on April 27, 1985, one of the finest children’s choirs ever assembled walked into the Westlake Studios in Hollywood and recorded “the chlidren’s version” of We Are The World.
Every note was also filmed for a video of the song. I couldn’t stop thinking about the 1400+ kids who had not made the group and suggested that part of the video include them all. It was agreed we finished our filming at LA’s Griffith Park where every child in the world imaginable was represented by hundreds of young singers including those who where blind, deaf, or otherwise handicapped. We wanted to show that when it comes to giving, there are no barriers. Everyone can participate.
Keep in mind that our production in the studio and on location, not to mention the countless of hours of planning, would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet, every need was filled by donations, equipment, and scores of industry production specialists.
It is, to this day, my proudest charitable and professional endeavor.
The following year we were notified that our version of the song had been nominated for a Grammy. Through the power of radio (before the Internet) and the effort thousands of caring, giving, and loving human beings, the words that Michael Jackson, gave to the world – “We are the one’s who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving” took on new life and meaning by The Children of the World.
They not only gave to help their starving brothers and sisters, they also paid a special tribute to “a child of the world” – Michael Jackson.
Shavar Ross with other children during the recording of the children’s version of ‘We Are The World’
‘Children of the World Project’ has an official Facebook page (though not very active) and some of the original members of the children’s choir had apparently reunited in 2010 to relive their childhood memories of working on the project.
Finally, here’s the recording/video of the children’s version of ‘We Are the World‘:
On March 21st, it had been 1000 days since Michael Jackson died. Fans from 42 countries contributed to send 1000 roses to his resting place at Forest Lawn and those roses were taken inside to where his body lay. On March 25th, it had been 33 months since Michael died, that grim reminder that comes around the 25th of every month now, a date many would rather forget or better yet, turn back time to before it happened.
Below is a photo of the roses Michael’s fans sent to his resting place in remembrance of him on that 1000-day anniversary:
1000 roses from 42 countries for Michael
But amidst all his fans remembering Michael on these key dates, the national attention surrounding the murder of young Trayvon Martin was increasing, the chorus of demands for justice growing ever-louder by the day. I could not ignore this. I know what Michael would feel about this: heartbroken, and sad that some of the same hatred and stereotyping he endured during his own life is still par for the course in our society, and that a young innocent boy needlessly died because of it. Nothing’s changed in that regard. This latest blatant injustice serves to remind us just how much and for how long things have not changed. I wonder if Michael would have gone to the family, asking if he could help; if he would speak out and if so, what he would say. Michael can’t speak about this now but I can, and so I am.
Michael Jackson fought against just these types of injustices all his life. He fought against them on his own behalf and he fought against them just as much on behalf of all humanity, through passionate philanthropy, music, film, speeches. But nothing’s changed.
They still don’t care about us
After Trayvon Martin was shot, police didn’t even bother to identify him. For three days he lay in a morgue tagged as “John Doe“, even though police had his cell phone and could easily have identified him. They just didn’t care. They could have also spoken with Trayvon’s girlfriend, the last person he spoke to before being accosted and shot by Zimmerman, but they didn’t bother. They just didn’t care. They tested Trayvon Martin’s corpse for drugs and alcohol but oddly, they did not test his murderer for the same. They just didn’t care. A friend of George Zimmerman made the comment that George thought all this would “all just blow over“. In other words, Zimmerman thought that murdering a young black boy was no big deal. He just didn’t care.
Michael’s fans are demanding justice for Trayvon Martin:
The video above did not include the Change.org petition that has over 2 million signatures now demanding justice for this boy’s murder. You can sign that petition here if you haven’t already:
George Zimmerman wanted to be a cop. But he wasn’t. So he decided to just act like one, taking the law into his own hands in a deadly act of vigilantism. There are other groups that are inciting further acts of vigilantism in response to this one. That will not help. It will not turn out well and will only feed Zimmerman’s false story of himself as “victim” in this incident. The victim, as we know, is dead. Some people say Zimmerman can’t be a racist because he is partially Hispanic. But here’s the truth: Anyone can be a racist.
Zimmerman is on record as having pestered the 911 operators and the cops 47 times. Every “suspicious person” he called about was black. Zimmerman even called them about potholes in the road. One might think it would be illegal to waste 911 emergency workers’ time with calling about potholes, or at least unacceptable enough that they would ask him to stop calling them unless it was an emergency. Apparently they did not do so and thus I can only assume police and local 911 operators knew what he was doing and that they approved of his harrassing black people in his neighborhood.
Here is the 47 page history of Zimmerman’s 911 calls:
Geraldo Rivera insists that Treyvon got shot because he was wearing a hoodie. I don’t think so. Geraldo (or anyone else) citing the fact that Treyvon Martin was wearing a hoodie as the (or a) reason he was murdered is a weak and pretentious excuse that only serves to protect the behavior of the perpetrator (Zimmerman) from complete accountability. Whether Geraldo meant his statement that way, I do not know but I do know that is the end result of it. It serves to protect the shooter from his actions by blaming the victim.
This is just like saying a woman was raped because she wore a short skirt. Or, because she was walking on a certain street or walking at a certain time of day.
It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. What all this is – is a way to blame the victim for the violent behavior of a criminal. And the victims who so typically get blamed for unprovoked violent criminal behavior against them are most often minorities: blacks, women, homosexuals, etc. This has been a shameful pattern for many decades in U.S. society.
I doesn’t matter what Treyvon was wearing or where he was walking. It doesn’t matter what a rape victim was wearing or where she was walking. It doesn’t matter if someone “looks gay” or not. None deserve to be the target of a violent crime. Period. It’s called ‘human rights‘. If a non-white, or non-heterosexual, or non-male person were considered to have a full set of human rights, they would not be blamed for unprovoked violent crime against them. It is only when these people are deemed to possess an incomplete or non-existent set of human rights that such excuses are used against them while they are victims of unprovoked violence. And unfortunately that is most, if not all of the time in the United States.
What matters is that these crimes go unpunished while those responsible for enforcing the law flatly refuse to hold the criminals accountable for their behavior, often blaming the victim, then society joins them in that blame response – like Geraldo did with his comment about the hoodie.
George Zimmerman is still walking free. Treyvon Martin is dead and Geraldo Rivera is making excuses for the man who killed him. And this type of thing happens all over the U.S. every day. This particular case just happened to get on the national radar. There are many more that do not.
While the high and mighty and frankly rather pervertedly obsessed American Taliban in the U.S. attempt to completely control what women do with their uteruses beneath the guise of calling themselves “pro-life” — and beneath some twisted version of “religious freedom” (which in practice amounts to same religious oppression that they claim themselves the victim of), actual lives are prematurely ended or ruined every single day with a whole lot of impunity – completely unabated and most often, unnoticed.
I’m talking about rampant hate crime and epidemic human rights abuses. You’re black? You’re a target. You’re a woman? You’re a target. You’re gay? You’re a target. How many school kids have killed or died due to bullying because they’re gay or because they’re different in some other way? Why do so many rapes go unreported and/or unprosecuted? How many of our women in the U.S. Armed Services are sexually assaulted and raped by their own comrades, yet our military does nothing to punish the violent offenders instead threatening and coercing the victims to remain silent on the issue. This particular issue is an epidemic of human rights abuses right in our own military. And yet we somehow against all odds expect these violent offenders not to behave similarly against other innocents on foreign soil. And when they do, we act surprised!
Some current media efforts to smear Trayvon Martin greatly resemble tactics used against rape victims in how they attempt to show past associations, clothing the victim wore, etc. in a damaging light.
When is somebody going to worry about all this? The current pretenses are transparent and not salable. The truth is, they just don’t care.
Society and the justice system in the United States can only start truly saving lives and showing care when they stop blaming innocent victims for the criminals’ unprovoked violent behavior. I have yet to see that begin to happen in this country.
Remembering Kennedy’s words on the death of MLK
King and Kennedy
After Martin Luther-King was shot, Robert F. Kennedy gave an off-the-cuff speech April 4, 1968 in Indianapolis. Many people think this was one of the best speeches Kennedy ever made. Here is what Kennedy said:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some – some very sad news for all of you – Could you lower those signs, please? – I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we – and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.
And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
History: The Warmth of Other Suns and The Mind of the South
The past is never dead. It's not even past.
The murder of Trayvon Martin is part of a deeply entrenched and as yet unchanged (other than in the forms it takes) history of racism in the U.S. To explain, I’ll share with you the following article and quotes.
The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
In The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson describes the world of Jim Crow and the Great Migration of black Americans to escape it in the still-bigoted North. One of the central characters of the book is George Swanson Starling, a citrus-picker living in Eustis, Florida.
And Eustis is only about 30 miles from Sanford, where Trayvon Martin was killed.
… breaking from protocol could get people like George killed. Under Jim Crow, only white people could sit in judgment of a colored person on trial. White hearsay had more weight than a colored eyewitness. Colored people had to put on a show of cheerful subservience and unquestioning obedience in the presence of white people or face the consequences of being out of line. If children didn’t learn their place, they could get on the wrong side of a white person, and the parents could do nothing to save them.
George was seeing the world in a new light after being in Detroit. The three of them had gotten used to fair wages for their hard work up north and walked with their backs straight now. George, in particular, never had the constitution to act subservient, and his time up north, where colored people didn’t have to step off the sidewalk, only made him more impatient with the role the southern caste system assigned him.
He had gotten used to carrying himself in a different way, talking to white people as equals in Detroit. Now that he was back in Eustis, he made a point to do whatever he could to keep from addressing white people as “sir” or “ma’am”. “They’d say, ‘So and so and so, boy'” he said. I would never say ‘Yes, sir’ or ‘No, sir.’ I’d say, ‘That’s right.’ ‘Sure.’ ‘Certainly.'”
“What do you mean by *certainly*?” would come the indignant reply. “You don’t know how to say, ‘Yes, sir’?”
George and two friends tried to organize their fellow workers in the orange groves for better and more honest wages. One day a man who worked for one of the white grove owners came to him.
The yard man said he heard mention of a cypress swamp eighteen miles out from town.
“They talking ’bout taking y’all out to Blackwater Creek”, he said. “They talking ’bout giving y’all a necktie party. They gon’ take y’all out there and hang y’all in one of them cypress trees.”
Men had been hanged for far less than what George was orchestrating. And there would be no protecting him if he stayed. In Florida and in the rest of the Deep South, “the killing of a Negro by a white man ceased in practice even to call for legal inquiry,” a white southerner observed in the early 1940s.
And so it goes. And goes. And goes. During the next 1000 days and the next 33 months since Michael Jackson’s death, I implore you to DO something. In the name of Michael Jackson for God’s sake DO something to help stop the abuse and the killing. He might have wanted that. Dont you think?
No, it wasn’t OK. I’m not going to pretend that it was. I never have and I never will.
People just weren’t allowed to say anything. They had them on ‘lockdown‘, including Michael. We’ve heard about that from multiple quarters. The film (This Is It), created by camera people hired and using equipment purchased by AEG, was not Michael’s and not Michael’s idea. Yes he would typically film rehearsals and performances so he could watch them later and improve his work. But this time it wasn’t his people or his cameras. What we heard from Kenny Ortega and Randy Phillips during rehearsals compared with what we heard later, particularly from Kenny Ortega in the courtroom during the Murray trial, should have told anyone listening that no, it wasn’t OK and no, they didn’t “have it under control“. Nowhere near it.
Who hired Conrad Murray? It really doesn’t matter who hired Murray. What matters is that Michael needed to sleep and no one around him cared if or how he did it. Including Conrad Murray, obviously. And that was the problem. It doesn’t matter because between Tohme Tohme and AEG, there was no way Michael’s family or anyone else who would listen to him or could help would be allowed near him, no matter what was going on. And Michael himself certainly didn’t want anyone else to know he was using propofol to sleep, either.
I constantly hear: “Well why didn’t so-and-so “do anything” when they were there in rehearsals and saw what was going on?” But in my own opinion, dancers, make-up artists and the like had neither the responsibility or the authority to “do anything” other than alert those in charge. And they did. And they were told it was “under control“. The next thing we all knew Michael was gone.
I don’t blame Michael’s family. I don’t blame the dancers, his make-up artists, his security detail, or his costumers. I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of those who negotiated that contract with AEG and those were in charge of that production. They know who they are. Anyone who gave a damn about anything besides themselves, the show and profits; anyone who could help Michael was flatly denied access. That’s the way they wanted it. It was as if he was some stolen crown jewel being guarded by hungry lions belonging to the thieves. No one could get near him to return him to anyone who cared for him.
If you haven’t read Jermaine Jackson’s book, I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend LaToya’s book. I recommend these because they are written by his own brother and sister and whether you like it or not, no one knew Michael better than his own family. They know his childhood and the history of his adolescence and young adulthood better than anyone else. They were there most of this time, unlike the media and various unscrupulous authors. These are authentic keys to who Michael was as a person. Jermaine’s book in particular lovingly puts truth to much if not all of the media lies about Michael. It is truly a treasure. Even knowing that the media’s claims were not true (I didn’t need proof of that myself), I still felt that I knew Michael much better after reading Jermaine’s book.
I know Jermaine, Michael and LaToya have had issues in the past. However, it is my own belief that these issues were put behind them long before Michael died. It is my belief that Michael forgave them and that all was settled. And if that was good enough for Michael, it’s good enough for me. I won’t discount some of these books based on grudges against this family when they are valuable snapshots of who Michael was — snapshots that no one other than his own family can provide. They’re important books if you want to know Michael.
I bring up Jermaine because if you haven’t read and listened to the following interview yet, you must. It was inexplicably dropped by the Huffington Post back in September 2011. They simply never published it and apparently gave no reason whatsoever. This was during the controversy that the media created surrounding Jermaine’s book wherein they typically misquoted what he had written about the 2005 trial. The planned tribute concert in Cardiff had caused a rift in the Jackson family at that time, and the Conrad Murray trial was about to start in mere days. Charles Thomson’s interview with Jermaine provides a glimpse into his state of mind at the time. Now, five months later, we can finally read and hear it. I think this interview and Jermaine’s book are very important for anyone seeking the truth about Michael, the media, and how Michael was treated during his life and particularly just before his death by the media and others around him. Some excerpts and audio from the interview follow:
The assumption by many that they know more about Michael than his own family is a bug-bear of Jermaine’s. This attitude, he says, is the result of a decades-long battle against inaccurate media coverage. “This would become a recurring theme for the family,” he writes in the book, “a showdown of fact versus perception – and fact would always be the underdog.”
. . .
The book has been mired in controversy. As Jermaine flew to London, a storm was brewing over a portion of his prologue. Writing about his brother’s 2005 child molestation trial, Jermaine wrote that he was paranoid Michael would fall victim to a terrible injustice, so he hatched a secret escape plan. He arranged for a private jet to be on standby at the nearest airport, ready to whisk his brother to Bahrain if things looked bleak.
But many journalists, apparently too lazy even to read Jermaine’s nine-page prologue before writing about it, got it monumentally wrong. It all started when one story misquoted the prologue and said the Jackson family had planned to spirit Michael away to the Middle East after he was convicted. Copy-and-paste journalism took hold and the story was replicated hundreds of times by newspapers and websites including the New York Post, NY Daily News, Denver Post and Washington Times. Even the Press Association got it wrong.
The nonsensical story made Jermaine’s book look like a work of fiction, a situation worsened when Michael’s 2005 defense attorney Thomas Mesereau publicly blasted the claim.
“One of the reasons I wrote the book was so that my words would stand for themselves, in context,” says Jermaine. “But even in the newspapers’ coverage of my book my words were misreported. There was never a plan to get Michael out of the country ‘if convicted’. Thomas Mesereau had to issue a denial based on something that wasn’t true in the first place. That one change of context showed how one inaccuracy can snowball and how myths are made. I sat back and thought ‘This is what Michael faced all the time’.”
There are others who are to blame for making Michael Jackson’s life a living Hell before he died. And much of what they did and the reasons they did it are rooted in the same ages-old greed, lust for power and racism that drove Hitler and his Ministry of Propaganda against the Jews – and against black people. This brand of putrid racism still exists today. Far from being anti-semitic, Michael understood all too well the persecution of the Jewish people because he felt so much of it himself during his own lifetime.
Besides being a musical genius, Michael was a revolutionary. He was also one of the biggest forgotten humanitarians of all time. But both his creative and humanitarian work has been successfully buried beneath negative propaganda and innuendo that would astonish Hitler and Goebbels, the forefathers of these tactics. There are various reasons for this. He bucked the system from the get-go. His artistic brilliance enabled him to succeed in spite of an aborted childhood, an abusive father and physical and emotional neglect. As an adult he asserted his freedom, both legal and creative. He was wildly successful, making himself a millionaire before the age of 30. He broke the white establishment’s rules and their records left and right, and then he broke his own records. And yet he was black. Even after he ‘turned white‘ from vitiligo, he was still black. And while that confused and confounded others about who Michael Jackson was and they subsequently projected that confusion onto him — Michael himself was never confused about his own identity.
He fought back against the persecution brought against him for not forcing himself into society’s box – the one pre-made for him when he was born poor and black. See, he was supposed to stay that way. But he didn’t.
He didn’t fight back with guns, violence, crime, or political movements but rather with his music, film, dance, and countless humanitarian efforts. He knew these had more power and were much more inclusive. He rebelled and while the propaganda machine used every weapon in its arsenal to distract everyone from his messages and they were mostly successful — some of us still heard it. Some of us understood it. And we understood the reasons behind it. Many of us experienced the same kinds of persecution in our own lives albiet on a smaller scale. We could relate!
If the rest of the world had any clue, it should be ashamed. Michael’s premature death from the human rights abuses he incessantly suffered right up to his very last breath are an indelible bloodstain humanity will bear on its face forever. Anyone who has any interest whatsoever in changing humanity can start by learning what this man’s music was really all about, particularly the most discounted, despised and criticized of it – that he created after he became hugely famous with ‘Thriller‘.
There’s a lot that too many people don’t know about Michael Jackson. And they need to know. Humanity will not change until and unless it can first face its mistakes,its ignorance, its gullible penchant for unquestioningly swallowing propaganda wholesale – and the shame that should rightly come along with all of that. And until it can finally see beyond this to the strength and beauty it daily disses in this world – not just in Michael Jackson but in itself – in all of humanity. The first step is to take the blinders off and start looking beyond the lies we’re being fed every day.
Michael saw it, that strength and beauty. He believed in it. He believed in himself and he believed in the rest of us. Even after he was so badly betrayed by so many people. As jacked as it sounds, the whole system sucks. But it doesn’t have to. Don’t keep these things in an echo chamber. Share them with everyone. There are many eyes to open, much shame to be reconciled, and much beauty to see – everywhere. But we have to expose the ugliness first in order to clear the view.