A Complex(ion) Issue

"Michael Jackson never wanted to be white..."

Posted:
 

From Adam Serwer over on The Atlantic:

"Ya'll can't get mad at me, because I haven't done a Michael Jackson post yet. This will be my only one, barring unforseen developments.

On the bus yesterday, I was reading Newsweek and found this article from David Gates on Michael Jackson:

Why did he feel so deeply uncomfortable with himself? The hopeless task of sculpting and bleaching yourself into a simulacrum of a white man suggests a profound loathing of blackness. If Michael Jackson couldn't be denounced as a race traitor, who could? Somehow, though, black America overlooked it, and continued to buy his records, perhaps because some African-Americans, with their hair relaxers and skin-lightening creams, understood why Jackson was remaking him-self, even if they couldn't condone it.

I think this misunderstands what Jackson was going through. I can only speak for myself, but I didn't see Jackson as rebuking or hating black folks by mutilating himself. I didn't see him as someone who was deliberately reinforcing the notion that white is inherently beautiful, I saw him as an example of how a number of factors, like racism and a really fucked up family life, can make a person go so crazy that they'll cut up their own face.

Contrary to conclusions of late-night comedians and even some journalists, I don't think Jackson wanted to be white..."

And don't think we haven't tackled the color question either. Check out THE BROWNTABLE'S "Michael Jackson: Black or White?"

What say you? Did Michael want to be white or is it altogether more nuanced than that?