“Black or White”

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In the song “Black or White,” Michael Jackson caters to the audience of white people as well as people of color by explaining, people are more than just a color, and we should all come together as a community. On November 1991, the song “Black or White” was aired in New York and Los Angeles on the radio station. The song was officially released a week later on November fifth, and it tremendously took off from there. During the 90s, many racial tensions took place such as racism and racial police brutality. Michael Jackson writes this song to share his opinion on society during this time period.

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““Black or White””

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Michael Jackson was one of the most talented artists during the 20th century. Also, known as the “King of Pop,” he was very influential to other artists. Jackson grew up in a house full of music being the eighth child out of the ten siblings. Jackson father wanted his children to be successful no matter what it took as stating:

“Jackson’s father, who worked at a steel plant, had always dreamed of becoming a successful musician. When this failed to happen, he decided to do whatever it took to make successes of his children. He tried to control his children’s careers even after they were adults” (notablebiographies.com).

Jackson started making music at the age four and later begun a group called the Jackson five. As the lead vocalist, by the time Michael Jackson was the age of ten he was signed to a record label. Jackson eventually grew more popularity and decided to move on to his solo career. He was so talented he won many achievements, such as winning eight Grammy awards in one night. Jackson also won hundreds of other awards, making him the most awarded recording artist in the history of pop music. Therefore, Jackson won 197 major awards during his 45-year career. Although Jackson had a wonderful career, he also had many flaws and controversy. Mainly racial controversy were accused on him because of his skin disorder. Many people believed that Jackson did not like his black skin color and thought he bleached his skin to change his color. Although critics believed the controversy’s, he used his speeches, music, and choreography to express his point of view on racism. Jackson faced a lot of controversy about race in his career, which he thought was crazy and unbelievable. He used his unique sound and lyrics to express the way he views the society in the song “Black or White”.

In the song “Black or White” Jackson uses sounds and varieties to show different instruments and dances which compare it to the different races and inequality. He uses all these different instruments to show that there’s no better instrument and that they are all played with a unique sound. Michael’s writing style was versatile mixed with pop and hip hop. He used guitars, and a mix of his own voice to create a unique rhythm. In the video, he used choreography from different cultures stating:

He acts as a kind of cosmopolitan shaman, performing alongside Africans, Native Americans, Thais, Indians and Russians, attempting, it seems, to instruct the recliner-bound White American Father (played by George Wendt) about the beauties of difference and diversity” (Vogel).

Michael Jackson uses different settings throughout the video to show his point of view on equality. Also, he shows children of different settings throughout the video to show children to different races on top of a globe to make his point that we can all to come together and make a change in the world.

Although Jackson uses different choreography to show his feelings towards equality in the song “Black or White” he also uses repetition in the chorus saying:

“I took my baby on a Saturday bang

Boy, is that girl with you?

Yes, we’re one and the same

Now, I believe in miracles

And a miracle has happened tonight

But, if you’re thinking about my baby

It don’t matter if you’re black or white” (Jackson).

This is a song that focuses on the feeling and opinion on racism. Michael Jackson opposes racism throughout his lyrics by the repetition of “It don’t matter if your black or white” as stated by genius:

“MJ is saying that he doesn’t pick his friends based on their skin color as it doesn’t matter. Continuing the theme of racial equality” (genius).

Also, Jackson uses many ways to express his feeling on racism such as saying he’s not afraid of the sheets referring to the KKK by stating:

“I am tired of this devil

I am tired of this stuff

I am tired of this business

So when the going gets rough

I ain’t scared of your brother

I ain’t scared of no sheets

I ain’t scared of nobody” (genius.com).

He also continues to show the theme of racial equality by saying he doesn’t choose his friends based on their skin color.

Next Michael Jackson explains that you shouldn’t be on his side because of his popularity in a verse by stating:

“Don’t tell me you agree with me

When I saw you kicking dirt in my eye” (genius.com).

He says this by trying to tell the audience don’t be on his side about racism because he knows they will because of his popularity as genius states:

“Don’t say that you agree with him, because you really only agree with what is popular.

Furthermore, MJ rebukes the critics telling them to not act like they’re on his side when in fact they’ll just use any chance they get to back-stab him” (genius.com).

Jackson uses this language “When I saw you kicking dirt in my eye” to show the disrespect he sees from people. Genius states:

“kicking dirt in my eye” is a metaphorical way to show his disrespect from others (races more importantly)” (genius.com).

Finally, In the song “Black or White” there is a rap that introduces his beliefs. Jackson consolidates a rap by saying:

“Protection for gangs, clubs and nations

Causing grief in human relations

It’s a turf war on a global scale

I’d rather hear both sides of the tale

See, it’s not about races

Just places, faces

Where your blood comes from is where your space is

I’ve seen the bright get duller

I’m not going to spend my life being a color” (genius.com).

Inside this rap he makes a reference to how gangs, clubs, and countries are ensured for their convictions despite the fact that it’s causing sorrow in human relations. Racism is a war of races, land or turf as Jackson portrays it and he would prefer to hear both sides of individual as genius states:

“Young people are often stereotyped to be part of gangs and often go to clubs. Though they still do need protection from everyday danger, they are often unnoticed and left vulnerable, as governments focus their money on fighting wars, hence the metaphor of being a small “turf war” (genius).

Michael depicts that prejudice in about places, faces where your blood originates from. Jackson uses a bold tone in the song and the music video. In the video he is seen dancing with many different races, he shows us this to tell his audience that he likes all races no matter the skin color. Also, during the video Jackson tone changes to an aggressive and fierce tone by bashing a car window, screaming, and throwing a trash can. His aggression at the end of the video by falling to his knees and ripping his shirt off. His actions in the video shows his pain and feelings towards racism.

Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” music video is structured like a movement to end racism. Jackson voiced his opinion based on things that occurred in his career. He was frustrated with all the inequality he had endured such as, the time he was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey to discuss the controversy of the young white kid that played as Jackson in the Pepsi commercial and the discussion on his skin color. During the interview, Oprah asks Michael Jackson if he is bleaching his skin or does, he dislikes the color of his skin. Michael Jackson responds to the question by sating:

“There’s no such thing of skin bleaching, I never seen it, I don’t know what it is”, then Michael continues to say, “Here’s the situation, I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin, it’s something I cannot help” (youtube.com).

Jackson continues to say that when people make up stories of his skin it hurts him because he cannot control it.

Controversy were said that Michael did not like his skin color and said he bleached his skin to become a different color. In the interview Michael Jackson was light hearted and denied all claims made against him ““that is the most ridiculous, horrible story I have even heard.” Although this was false, Michael Jackson stated:

“It was misunderstood and was crazy that Michael Jackson a black

African American would want a white child to play him in a commercial”(YouTube).

He also continues in the interview repeating saying “I’m proud to be an African American and is proud of his race”.

In 2002 Michael Jackson attended a speech in Harlem to inform people that black artist doesn’t get enough credit for there work by saying:

“Throughout the years black artist have been taking advantage of and its time we have to put a stop to this incredible justice” also he says, “record companies really do conspire against artist, they steal, they cheat and do whatever they can especially black artist” (Jackson).

Michael Jackson gave a speech in Harlem to express his opinion on racism on black artist. Jackson says black artist get cheated for their money by record companies and thinks they should put an end to it. Also, he asks for everyone’s support to stand up and help these black artists because the future is important. In this speech all Michael Jackson wants to do is put an end to all racism and all he needs is the support from others.

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“Black or White”. (2020, Apr 22). Retrieved October 3, 2022 , from

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