During the BET Awards Sunday before last, there was an unexpected social networking trend that developed. On Twitter, the BET Awards began to move up the list of trending topics. This traffic was driven by African-Americans, which were moved by the passing of the King of Pop. Some Twitter users began to question why Michael Jackson was such a hot topic, and why so much was being made of Michael Jackson’s death.
Then there was Tuesday. I watched the events on T.V. and CNN Live, and socialized with friends on Tweet Deck and Facebook. Every Black person that I have spoken with was watching the Michael Jackson Memorial, and so were most other Americans.
One of my wife’s white Facebook Friends made an interesting observation: “All of my black friends’ status updates are about Michael Jackson, and for my white friends it’s just another day.” I saw the same thing as one friend would write “I’m holding back tears,” and another would say “I’m headed to the beach.”
For many African-Americans, Wednesday was like attending the funeral/homegoing ceremony of an uncle or cousin. In my own family there have been times where we’ve had to put aside differences and squabbles to give someone the send off that they deserve. Tuesday was no different for the Jacksons.
From the music, to the brothers synchronized dress, the laughing, the crying, it had a very familiar feel. There was even a mini-sermon by Rev. Al Sharpton and a resolution read by Sheila Jackson Lee.
It looked and felt like most every funeral I’ve been to, up to the classic black look that Janet was throwing down. Janet showed, as many sisters, daughters, and aunts do, that you can mourn and still look good.
It was a grieving family, nothing weird, strange, or odd about it. Even when Paris spoke, and the family encouraged her (“Speak into the mic baby,” Janet said) it had that family feel.
I don’t get why people choose ridicule those who mourn Jackson. He created music like we had never heard before, and it had a powerful effect on people across the world. I remember when Selena died while I was in college, I had never heard of her. People at Texas A&M were holding candlelight vigils and crying in class. But I never thought to ridicule or make fun of Selena’s fans.
What’s the harm in one human that is moved by the passing of another? Read comments on any social networking outlet and you’ll see people say “I was crying” or “tears were flowing.” I was reading Paris words on the AP while riding in on the train this morning and got choked up myself. It’s even more sad because this was a death that most likely didn’t have to be.
Michael was different, no doubt. He pretty much acknowledged that fact himself with the Leave Me Alone video. But no one deserved the judgment and ridicule that dogged him until the end. I agree with Marlon Jackson and others: Maybe now Michael, they will leave you (and your children) alone?