Remembering Michael Jackson and the Racial Mashup of ‘Black or White’
Five years ago yesterday, Michael Jackson suffered a cardiac arrest at his home and, after receiving treatment there, was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead. In his honor, fans of the King of Pop have been Tweeting, Facebooking and Tumblr-ing tributes with tags such as #RIPMichaelJackson.
Jackson, who was reputed to have Choctaw ancestry on his father's side and possible Blackfeet ancestry on his mother's, was also known for his spirit of inclusivity and desire to bring people of different races together.
One of his most innovative videos, for the 1991 single "Black or White," found the singer, who was also an innovative dancer, dancing alongside children and adults of numerous cultures, and included a substantial Native American-themed sequence. On her Tumblr page, Chantal Rondeau, a broadcast journalist and writer of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation in the territory of the Yukon, posted a photo of Michael Jackson with a young jingle dress dancer named Sage Galesi. Galesi (Apache/Cheyenne/Lakota) is the daughter of Joanelle Romero, founder and president of Red Nation Film Festival. According to the Festival's website, Romero and Jackson were friends in elementary school, and Romero helped secure favorable rates for the American Indian dancers and actors who appeared in "Black or White."
"Michael was precious, kind and humble," Romero says on the Red Nation site. "He carried a light that shined so bright. His music was a gift to the world and that is why he was brought here. I was blessed to have known Michael."
Thoughts of Michael Jackson poured in from all over the world. "Michael was all about love and peace," his sister Latoya said in her own tribute. "In honor of my brother I ask you to please do something kind for someone today, and, blast and dance to all the beautiful music he left us all."
Here's the video for "Black or White" by Michael Jackson.