May 23 2012

‘You can’t go to a premiere with a n**ger.’

Category: Friends,JusticeSeven @ 10:22 am

Michael with Tatum O'neal

Unfortunately, my friendship with Michael came to an abrupt ending. He’d played the Scarecrow in The Wiz, the urban remake of the Wizard of Oz, which starred Diana Ross as Dorothy. For the film’s premiere, Michael invited me to be his date. I asked my dad, who didn’t care one way or another if I went, but my talent agency was dead set against it. I was told, in exactly these words: ‘You can’t go to a premiere with a n**ger.’

-Tatum O’neal, “A Paper Life

“Boy, is that girl with you?”, “Yes, we’re one and the same!”  -from ‘Black or White’

Just to be perfectly clear, I publish such a tasteless comment only to illustrate what Michael had to deal with during his life, and to illustrate how little has changed, at least in the United States. The advent of having the first black President here has not budged the issue one iota, except to further incense those who are revolted by a black man in the Oval Office, causing them to continually demand his “papers“, even after three years and on the eve of the next election. And, even after they have been produced time and time again, they are still not accepted by certain factions. It’s sheer lunacy and a shameful history topped off by a shameful present-day, where these attitudes remain but only the methods change. The remark made to Ms. O’neal was over 3 decades ago.

_ _ _

{ Thanks to my friends at The Michael Jackson Academia Project, who tweeted this quote and photo this morning.  -Seven }

Tags: ,

15 Responses to “‘You can’t go to a premiere with a n**ger.’”

  1. Vanessa Donovan says:

    What an awful thing to say that Tatum could not go to a premier with a N**ger well if she cared that much for Michael she would have stood up to her talent agency. Why do people say this and act like they do because some ones skin is a different colour to their own , they are racist P**s, that’s why( I am white by the way).

    I would have been honoured just to be in his presence. I would have gone anywhere with him, I adored Michael he was the sweetest, gentlest, the sexiest, most gorgeous man ever,non one will ever replace him. I LOVE YOU MICHAEL JOSEPH JACKSONxxxx

  2. Sina says:

    Its kind of sad when you are the president of the USA and many of your fellow countryman dont see you as American. Yet you have to go abroad and say how great your country is.
    The same with Michael. Like you are not welcome in your own home. What a shame.

  3. Ladypurr9 says:

    Sorry, Seven, I had just read a comment from Raven. My apologies. Hope you are doing well. Your blog always offers up such substantive and thought-provoking material. Thanks!

  4. Ladypurr9 says:

    Dear Raven,

    You’re spot on to remind us that the ugly ‘hydra-head’ of racism rears up everywhere in America today. It leaves me sick inside. It’s like Michael himself said in the song, Can You Feel It,…..”When hate won’t due cause we’re all the same, yes the blood inside of me is inside of you.”

    Michael saw life through the lens of love. He was light-years ahead of his time! We had him.

  5. VanessaL says:


  6. Monica says:

    My apologies Seven. I must have misunderstood.

  7. Seven says:

    That’s it. Michael didn’t stay “in his place“. He rose above it and the minute he did, those controlling the power structures in the US went after him, including the media and subsequently society, in response to the negative propaganda against him. Likewise, the attempts against women are primarily to keep them “in their place“. It’s all about control. And if they can’t control someone and keep them “in their place” so that they aren’t a threat to the existing power structure (ie: the status quo), then they’ll ruin them. They did it to Michael. They did it to others. This isn’t new. And unfortunately it isn’t old (ie: it’s still going on in crypto-fashion, hidden behind many disguises).

  8. truthmarathons says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Seven! This is 2012 and there are some factions in the US trying to turn back the time to not only disenfranchise blacks, but women. I am still amazed by the blatant bias in this country. From the beginning of Obama’s term, Mitch McConnell and the conservatives have made it clear that their first priority is to make him a one-term President. Sadly, I do believe that many people in this country are appalled that a black man lives in the White House. I also believe that Michael endured great animosity because of his business acumen, but additionally because a black man achieved heights in the music industry. He wasn’t the only one, but with Michael scoring the coveted ATV–I bet it set off a firestorm within the industry. Isn’t it funny how the press ratcheted up their assault after that? So very sad.

  9. Seven says:

    To June: I find it difficult to imagine the amount of racism still present now.

    To others who have commented (including some whose comments I haven’t approved): Whatever Ms. O’Neal did or did not do or say in regards to MJ – Tatum O’Neal is not the subject of this post. I have received comments to the effect of: ‘why don’t we leave his personal life alone!‘ and many other comments lambasting Tatum O’Neal.

    This post isn’t about his personal life or about Tatum O’Neal. Notice the title. That’s what it’s about.

    The comment made by O’Neal’s agent could have been made by anyone in regards to going to a public event with Michael and it would be as offensive. What’s also offensive is how little these attitudes have changed in three decades. Of course, people don’t readily use “the ‘N’ word” anymore, but the attitudes remain.

    Just a few weeks ago we witnessed the unprovoked murder of an innocent and unarmed Trayvon Martin and before that, our black president has faced demands for his “papers” the moment he set foot in office, as if he was a newly minted freed slave. (ie: “where are your papers, boy!“) The constant attempts to portray him as “unAmerican” or “other” or “illegitimate” (ie: not like us, not white) are blatant. Some websites were recently selling anti-Obama 2012 election bumper stickers that said “Don’t Re-Nig” on them. There it is again – only this time, it was on a bumper sticker instead of coming from some ignorant Hollywood agent or manager’s mouth. And it happened in 2012 instead of 1970-something.

    Even if a person dislikes the U.S. President’s policies, that kind of attitude ought to be offensive and it was to many – yet still it persists. So you see, these attitudes remain even three decades later even though the words or methods used to express them may have changed.

    And that is the subject of this post. To distract from or to reduce it to “oh there they go talking about his personal life” or “Well Tatum O’Neal did/said blah blah….” is to do it (and Michael, IMO) a great injustice.

    In regards to the persistent stain of racism on (US) society, the problem is not with Tatum O’Neal or even what type of relationship she did/did not have with Michael Jackson. The problem isn’t even with the word “N*gger” but rather the deeds that follow the word and the attitudes that precede it, all of which Michael was subjected to in his life and most or all of which still exist albiet in different forms now – and which the even U.S. President is subjected to, to a significant and disgusting degree.

    Why you wanna trip on Tatum O’Neil? That just ain’t it.

  10. KC says:

    I believe Michael was always ahead of his time to see beyond racial and cultural barriers as he set important precedences for all humanity to follow, but unfortunately the world was not up to speed and too closed minded to accept his loving messages (whether in songs or a speeches) back in the 80’s and 90’s.
    However, he has left an important lasting legacy through his children and his songs and hopefully MJ3 will continue on with the good work Michael started. I am just sorry for ignorance and negativity that Michael endured while he was living and know in my heart he is in a better place and working to help us evolve towards greater acceptance of one another so we can become more loving human beings.

  11. june says:

    Seven, most likely impossible to tell, but do you have any idea whose hand is on Michael’s right shoulder in the picture with Tatum O’Neal? Her arms are at her sides. I agree with Mark Bentley, she could have ditched the agent’s advice and followed her own heart. From her interviews over the years and all that I have read, she wasn’t much of a shrinking violet. As you say, the overarching problem wasn’t with Tatum. Difficult to imagine the amount of racism present a mere 30 years ago. I’m of that time period and witnessed much of it.

  12. Elvira Del Biondo says:

    Yes racism is still strong even if the racists pretend otherwise the hate still comes through. Poor Michael he was the most loved person in the world but his haters hated him deeply.

  13. Seven says:

    Of course Tatum could have stood up to her publicist and gone anyway. However, the overarching problem wasn’t with Tatum O’Neil.

  14. Mark Bentley says:

    Tatum could have gone with Michael in defiance of her publicist’s “advice.” I’m sure Michael would have gone with her if the shoe were on the other foot. It’s not like her career amounted to much on that advice! If she had stood up for something that matters, it might’ve been different –she might actually have something to be proud of.

  15. luvuangel says:

    Even though I am disgusted by the agency’s remark, this little story gives me a good feeling. Why? Because I knew that Michael liked Tatum, and I firmly believe that he was perfectly capable of having a loving relationship with a girl. When haters try to paint him as a sexual weirdo who could never love a woman or father a child, I feel sad because it’s a lie and it is just as hurtful as the “nigger” comment. And so, the fact that Tatum didn’t end the friendship herself and that there was inherently nothing “wrong” with their budding love affair confirms my belief that Michael was a totally normal boy and man. Lucky Tatum! I would have flipped to be able to meet him and spend time with him. And Barack Obama? How can it be possible that still today in 2012 there are men and women out there who cannot see beyond the brown color of a man’s skin? The American people (those who are open-minded and not blinded by color) elected him President and we were so thrilled to see him sit in the Oval Office, not because he is black, and so we “won” over the KKK, but simply because he is the best man we can have there right now. Anyway, seeing how ignorant so many of my countrymen are makes me sad and sick about our future. May love prevail over hate and open-mindedness over ignorance!! Educate the children!!