Each day the media cloud over Michael Jackson's death mushrooms broader and wider with rumor, speculation, and tidbits of fact. Yesterday morning the big story was that Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson's mother, has been awarded guardianship of all three of his children, Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. aka Prince; Paris Michael Katherine; and Prince Michael Jackson II aka "Blanket."
By yesterday evening it was Jackson's former wife Debbie Rowe's bombshell that he is not the biological father of the older children, "Prince" and Paris. Rowe, who used to work as the assistant to Jackson's dermatologist, was married to Jackson for a time, and has reportedly said that she doesn't want the two children to whom she gave birth.
Now it's alleged that the biological father is Jackson's dermatologist, Rowe's "former boss," Arnold Klein. Furthermore, the gossip website, TMZ, has even reported that Rowe herself is not the biological mother either. The site claims, "All three children were conceived in vitro -- outside the womb."
According to the Huffington Post, Rowe's attorney has denied the TMZ allegation and asserts that she is the children's biological mother. The TMZ story also claims, "Michael was not the sperm donor for any of his kids." Years back, Jackson himself admitted he used a surrogate to carry the youngest child, "Blanket," to term, but he never said he was not the sperm donor.
This is all gossip. Painful gossip. Should we be talking about this at all?
Some in the black community don't mind rehasing this topic. They say Michael Jackson's children appearing to be white is further evidence that Jackson did not want to be black and gives people of African descent the opportunity to address self-hatred and issues with eye color, skin color, and obssesions with "good" hair in the open. The King of Pop's changing hair, face, and skin color alienated some people of color. BlogHer CE Lainad echoes the frustration:
They were our princes....through a 9 year-old's eyes. But when the plastic surgery and the skin lightening appeared, and much later, the allegations of sexual abuse of young boys, that childhood fantasy seemed distorted. How could I have a crush on a man who clearly hated himself, his blackness.....the same blackness that I had? If he hated himself so much, he would never love me. I felt betrayed, as I imagine other black girls did. As a kid ,when the white boys my age called me an animal and never gave me the time of day, it was the Jackson boys and the fantasies that there were boys, that one day, might like us, was destroyed.
He was a talented man, and a very disturbed man. It's unfortunate that his life was cut short. (Lainad)
Others defend Jackson vehemently, declaring that he didn't hate his race, he hated himself, yes, but not his race. They cite Jackson's claim that he had Vitiligo, a disease that causes the skin to lose its pigment, and they blame the singer's plastic surgeries on his father Joe Jackson, for making him feel ugly. In an interview Jackson once said that his father criticized his nose and called him ugly.
The body's not buried, but the gloves are off, if they were ever on, when it comes to talking about Michael Jackson, and in the midst of adoration, scrutiny, and intermittent vitriol are his children. The picture of Jackson's two sons and daughter comes from CNN. You can see the youngest, "Blanket," walking beside his sister, Paris.
I knew coverage of Jackson's death would get crazy, and as a journalist, I also understand that you can't ignore a story this big, but I'm troubled that his children will continue to be part of that circus. I hope their grandparents can protect them. Before the stories surfaced that Jackson is allegedly not their biologial father, folks were already openly debating their parentage, and you can read people talking about it starting at one of Field Negro's posts in the comments section here, also here, and on this one as well.
I said in the original post "Mixed on Michael Jackson's Children" at my blog:
Eventually the media will pick this story up too, if not the MSM, then the tabloids, and what can come from this except more psychological pain for Michael's children?"
Their parentage is something people have debated for a long time, but the masses should let the debate rest with the King of Pop in the grave and leave these children in peace. He said they are his children, and so, they are his children. (WSATA)
Elsewhere, I wrote about a message MJ wrote on hotel stationery in 1995, which I as a writer consider the equivalent of leaving a desperate plea on a napkin, anything you can find to pen words that must come out. Here is part of that message, which likens mean-spirited critics to animals:
Animals strike, not from malice, but because they want to live, it is the same with those who criticize, they desire our blood, not our pain. But still I must achieve I must seek truth in all things. I must endure for the power I was sent forth, for the world for the children.
But have mercy, for I've been bleeding a long time now." (Written by Michael Jackson, 1995. Read more commentary on his plea for mercy here.)
Sunday night, Janet Jackson spoke at the BET Awards on behalf of the Jackson family. She asked people to remember what Michael was to them, family. With that reminder, she too is asking for mercy, a measure of respect for human feeling and a loved one's memory. "To you Michael is an icon. To us Michael is family ...," said Janet.
This back and forth about the children, the circumstances of his death, and the potential problems with the will, which has been located according to CNN, could make any family crumble.
The world awaits the results of the autopsy toxicology tests, and his family has asked for an additional autopsy. In the meantime, we hear over and over that MJ may have been addicted to prescription pain medication. If that's repeated enough, after a time, people will assume it's true no matter what the toxicology report says later. All this and we haven't had the funeral yet. Plus, discovery of his assets will be a mess for the history books.
Make it stop!
I say that knowing it won't stop in my lifetime. Like Elvis, Michael Jackson's legacy is eternal, eternally praised and eternally smeared. But to his family, for those of us who were blessed by his music and appreciate that blessing, I paraphrase the rest of Janet Jackson's quote and say, he will live with dignity in the hearts of those who loved him
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