Michael Jackson. A legend. An icon. The year was 1987 and the album was titled BAD, and yes he was a bad man. Not in the literal sense of course, but in the Smooth Criminal, white suit, sideways lean, video gangster kind of definition. The Way You Make Me Feel, getting dirty with Diana type of bad. But their was another side. A reflective side. The Man in the Mirror side. Do you remember that song? If you’re like me you probably haven’t heard it in a while. I was young at the time, maybe 7 or 8, but I can recall listening and singing along to the lyrics. It was catchy. It had a good beat. Plus, it was MICHAEL JACKSON. Duh. I knew all the words; which could be attributed to the fact that my brother was a die hard fan. He frequently imitated many, (if not all), of the Michael Jackson videos that were on MTV or BET at the time. So I, as a loyal younger sister, watched him in wonderment or assisted with props as needed while he attempted to “reproduce” said videos. That is not to say that I wasn’t a fan of Michael, because I was. I am. But my brother? He had me beat.
However, I digress…..
At that age I did not understand the implications of the song. I just knew it was Michael and he was awesome. So whatever he said had to be right. Right?
“I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right”
The video displayed clips of Martin Luther King Jr., malnourished children and bombs; there was much more but that is what stood out to me as a child. When the video originally aired I don’t think anyone could help themselves from stopping whatever they were doing at the time, look at the television screen and watch as such heartbreaking depictions of the world flashed before their eyes. At least I couldn’t. Not sure as to what it was all about, I understood that it was important.
Michael Jackson was sending us a message.
Not too long ago I watched the video with mature eyes. Eyes that had seen far more and experienced much more than that 7 year old sitting on the floor giggling at her brother’s dance moves. I cried. I cried for all the pain in that video, the pain that I had felt in my life, and the pain in this world. I felt it. Deeply. So yes I am “one of those”; an unabashed crybaby. It let’s me know that I’m alive, I’m human and that I’m still privileged to be able to feel. Unlike when I was a child, as an adult I recognized the scenes that were displayed; homelessness, starvation, racism, protests, police brutality, war. Twenty-nine years later and the same issues still pervade our society.
“I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It’s time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they’re not alone?”
So how can we do this? By “this” I mean, how can we live our lives on a daily basis and not try to help others? No that does not mean quit your job, fly to an unknown country and feed the children. Of course, if you got it like that be my guest. What I am asking, not only you but myself, is how can we as a global community not do anything? Have you even seen a Feed The Children commercial lately? I haven’t. Back in the day I couldn’t enjoy a Saturday morning cartoon without Sally Struthers appearing between breaks to tell me how 70 cents a day could change a child’s life. I stopped crunching my Fruit Loops long enough to think about those children; if only for a moment. Nowadays the commercials tell me that for 19 cents a day I can save abused cats and dogs.
Do we not care about human life anymore?
Now don’t go writing a letter to PETA saying that Latasha hates animals because that is far from the truth. I just want to know what happened to our humanity? Where did it go? Why does no one sing of the atrocities that are plaguing this earth? The atrocities that are degenerating our souls? Yes, our souls. With each passing week we read of another young black male murdered unjustly, religious organizations/persons targeted and harassed or refugees fleeing oppressed countries and a piece of our inner selves simply fade away.
“If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
We all must face that proverbial man in the mirror sooner or later. Why not today?
Photo Credit: Darwin Guevarra (www.freeimages.com) http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/japat-46362