Rest in Peace: Joe Jackson, Father to the Jackson 5

I have just finished reading an obituary of Joe Jackson, father of The Jackson Five in The Guardian newspaper. But it is expected that such a monstrous article would focus on Joe’s lack of compassion and concentrate instead, on the cruelties he inflicted upon his ten children. Of course it would ignore that Joe had to feed his family on a paltry wage he received from working as a crane worker at a steel plant in Gary, Indiana; it would also ignore the everlasting poverty, the racism that was always there ready to inflict its hatred on anything which tried to be successful.

I guess what is probably frustrating for the author is how Joe was totally unapologetic and neither ashamed of his parenting methods. He was hard and unrelenting but as crude as he might have been, he basically did what he had to do.

I can understand Joe Jackson. If MJ were still alive, he would have been the same age as myself. My parents, in particular my father, was incredibly ambitious and persistent. He refused to accept that as he left the sugar plantation estate in the West Indies cutting cane, he did not leave for the UK so that I could become a typist or my brothers would be bus drivers. To him, education was the be-all and end-all. I was not allowed to go to parties, have boyfriends, my head had to be buried in books at all times. I can remember, gazing at my father with astonishment as he declared that he wanted me to go to University.  Go to University?  Was he for real?

Unfortunately, myself and my brothers experienced either lashings via the leather belt or had a copy of The Yellow Pages crashing down on our skulls! This happened several times to me and I decided that it was not going to happen again so I did what he wanted.

Yes, at the time I considered my father to be an unforgiving brute! He was aggressive towards my mother and his sisters. He did not suffer fools, whether they were as dark as he or any other colour.  He was not scared. When the infamous Notting Hill riots took place some months after I was born, he participated. Clearly, depending on one’s point of view or politics, my Dad was far from perfect.

As a result of failing my exams and being really fed up of the whole thing, I mustered up the courage to confront my father and tell him that I wanted to go to work. My father was angry but accepted if I wanted this, then so be it but…whilst I lived under his roof and worked, he never gave up in continuously reminding me of the mistake I was making.

After a year of working at a job I found locally, I remember feeling bored, feeling how mundane and repetitive the job was. It was then, it occurred to me that if this was work or my future with regards to work, I did not want this. It was then, that my father’s ambition became my own. So while I worked I went to three evening classes per week. I did this for a year before applying as a mature student to a University. I never heard a whisper from my father again, instead I received his blessings and respect while I lived at the family house. And as for my mother, she played the ‘good cop’ to my father’s ‘bad cop’; she supported and loved his ambition and respected him as a good caretaker.

For those who want to crucify Joe Jackson for how he brought up his family, one thing that cannot be ignored, if Joe Jackson was not the parent he was, no matter how bad (Bad – such a great track) we most certainly would not have had the Jackson 5, we couldn’t have known Michael Jackson, and the latest Janet Jackson CD, the fantastic Unbreakable simply would not have existed.

I doff my cap to Mr Jackson, for his strength, his endurance, for his determination and ambition. It is clear that if he did not possess these qualities, the world would never have witnessed such a phenomenon as the Jackson Five which was and still is, the first of a kind.

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The Great Mandela is now at peace

Mr Mandela, sadly, you have now left us. I want to thank you for all you have done for your people; for avoiding a civil war and allowing peace to reign. But I also know that if it were not for you, I would not have been allowed, as a black woman, to emigrate to South Africa in 1994. I had the pleasure of living in your beautiful country for two years, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

You will be missed and you will never be forgotten. Go and enjoy your well deserved rest and may the Almighty Father bless your wonderful soul.

Beyonce: Yes! You are betraying your Roots!

What do white people think when Blacks whiten themselves and integrate weaves with their natural hair?  Is it something that deserves a quite smug, pity or indifference?  In the British Sunday Times 20.2.11, the journalist, Rod Liddle, remarked on the fact that the singer Beyoncé seemed to be getting whiter and blonder.  He even admitted that he preferred Beyoncé’s ‘look’ to how she were some years ago, and said it ‘suited’ her much better than the late Michael Jackson.  But he tried hard to limit the damage by wondering why anyone would want to be white at this time – as if he doesn’t really understand!

He should know as the astute observer that he is, that for a lot of us, it is sad and embarrassing that Black women probably feel that they cannot go out on the street unless there is some sort of weave or wig on top of their head; unless our skin tone looks like honey, and for those of us who relax our hair, that we pray it doesn’t rain. Praising Beyoncé for how she looks does wonders for the rest of us.

Was Obama truly a fan of Michael Jackson?

Why has Obama spoken briefly about the death of MJ? Could it be there are more pressing problems with the riots in Iran or the kidnapping of the president in Honduras? Yeah, well we know he has to pay attention on these urgent and important matters. But my family and friends debate if Obama, although being fifty percent white, prides himself as ‘Black’ would therefore find MJ’s (who is 100% black) personal contempt of his own ‘blackness’ unpalatable. How, then can the first Black premier of the West stand side by side with another Black premier of the pop world when they do not have anything in common when it comes to identity.

I grew up with this man! My friend!

 

The Greatest

I grew up with this man. I danced alone, daily, in my front room to ‘Looking through the Window’; I wanna go where you are; I want you back and other popular Jackson 5 hits. We communicated daily: he sang and I listened and danced.  For a few years I didn’t hear from him but it didn’t matter as I still played his singles and albums as I knew he would contact me.  And then he did.  He was loyal as he was the kind of person not to let me down.  He released Thriller and Bad, and I was proud, so grateful each time I listened to these masterpieces. His music was comforting, supportive – a  friend even, never disappointing but was so uplifting and stirring.  When I learned of his death strangely enough I wanted to visit my blog on WordPress, and then I saw the Yahoo headline – Michael Jackson dies. I quickly turned on the TV and switched to CNN; Sky and BBC and they were all reporting this total shock. I wake my husband (we are also 50), speak to my brother and call my son and we all just simply cannot believe it. 

I don’t care what the man did in his later life as the controversy that surrounded him can never, ever erase the way he made me feel so important in my front room. I thank you Michael for being my friend.