Thursday, July 09, 2009

O'Reilly Debates Michael Jackson & Race

From the Huffington Post:

O'Reilly returned to the issue of Jackson and race tonight during a vigorous debate with Columbia University professor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. O'Reilly criticized Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson Jr. and others for turning this into a "racial deal," saying there is no racial component and that it's foolish for black Americans to exult Jackson as a black icon when he "bleached his face" and had white children: "You don't become an African-American icon when you do something like that."

A bit more here, plus vomit-inducing video.


It appears that the massive media barrage over Michael Jackson's death has only spawned political "controversy" at FOX News, which is unsurprising, I guess. I heard Sean Hannity on the radio late last week calling Jamie Foxx's recent assertion that Jackson was a black man nothing short of bigoted. I didn't listen long enough to get a handle on why Hannity thinks this is the case, but I get the feeling that I could have listened all day and still wouldn't have gotten it.

I mean, Michael Jackson was, indeed, a black man, after all. How can it be wrong to make such an observation, and to give some credit to black culture for producing him?

I could probably go point by point here, explaining why O'Reilly's weird assertions are such bullshit, but his foolishness seems extraordinarily self evident. It's probably enough to say that being black, or white for that matter, is much more about culture, about what an individual experiences, than it is about skin color. Rapper Eminem, for instance, has lived and worked among African-Americans for many years, mastering a black art form even, but he's still a white man because he has been treated by society and the people around him as white for his entire life, and he fully understands this. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has risen to the apex of the white power structure, has a white wife, and has issued rulings from the bench that many believe are not in the best interests of most African-Americans, but he's still a black man because he has lived his entire life as a black man--he understands what it means to be black in ways that I never will.

So, too, with Michael Jackson, regardless of what color his skin ended up being, regardless of the skin color of his children or his former wives. It's worth noting here that Jackson had no control over his skin color because he suffered from vitiglio, a condition that depletes skin pigment, but really, that doesn't matter: Jackson, an artist, was free to do whatever he wanted. Changing his color in no way affected his ethnicity.

This is all obvious. The real question here is why celebrating Jackson's blackness is so disturbing to these conservatives. I mean, WTF? Black is beautiful, right? Even when it's white.