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28 Juni 2009 @ 12:15
Let us sit upon the ground...  

...and tell sad stories about the King of Pop. That's certainly what CBC Radio's been doing for the past couple of days, anyway. (Word is they no longer have funding for chairs over there.)

Oddly enough, I, too, have a sad story about Michael Jackson to tell. I've never been interested in the type of music he made, and I didn't pay particular attention to the disturbing tales of his personal conduct, so it's not really a story about the man himself, and it's not a long story, but I think it's worth telling.

When I was in high school, I rode the school bus every day; my school was too far away to walk to, and I never did learn to drive (and even if I had, the family car would have been needed elsewhere anyway). The bus driver was a black woman named Terri (or Terry, or Teri—it feels odd that I don't know how to spell her name, but I never did have occasion to see it written down). Although she was a parent, she was not very much older than her high-school passengers, and she would chat with those of us who were sitting near the front of the bus; I didn't say much, but I enjoyed listening, and felt a pleasant and unexpected sense of continuity between high school and adulthood in these conversations. Anyway, Terri would sometimes tell us about her young son, and once or twice even brought him on board with her. One time, she told us about something he had said about his aspirations for the future: "When I grow up," he had announced, "I want to be white, like Michael Jackson."

I'm not going to blither about Role Models here, and I neither know nor care whether Jackson's gradual albinification was the result of vitiligo or cosmetic procedures or some combination of the two. I'm also not going to pontificate about the cultural significance and biological arbitrariness of racial categories; there are many interesting things to be said about them that I'm really not well equipped to say. But this story is the one thing I will always remember about Michael Jackson, even if it's not exactly about him.

 
 
 
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