THE AUTOPSYof Michael Jackson will produce shock results for sure. Forensic scientists will open a white guy's body and find a black guy inside.
One wonders which Michael Jackson will be immortalized in statues.
The nice young man with the curls?
Or His Royal Weirdness with the bleached skin and wig-like locks?
Which nose will sculptors recreate? The one that collapsed, the one made out of ear cartilage, or a random one from the biscuit tin under his bed?
Commentators keep talking about Jackson's contribution to race relations, but, with all due respect (none) they are talking garbage.
When the Jackson Five made their breakthrough in the 1970s, many people (including me) celebrated. For the first time, people with brown skin, black hair and big noses were entertainment superstars so big that there was a shockingly bad cartoon series made about them.
In the 1970s, this was the ultimate sign of success. If brown people could appear in execrable cartoons, we could do anything.
I realized that I no longer had to content myself with aspiring to be a waiter in a small cafe where no one goes. I could be a MAITRE D in a small cafe where no one goes. At last. Something to aim for.
In gratitude, I bought several copies of Off the Wall, Michael's first big hit album.
Later, I got a job in a cafe in Hampstead, London. The manager assigned me to permanent washing-up duty. This was even more menial than waiter. “Brown people are capable of greatness,” I complained, giving him a cassette of Off the Wall. “Have you heard this?”
The manager, whose heart and brain were twin lumps of granite, replied: “Jacko ain't brown any more. Check it out.”
During my lunch break I bought a copy of Melody Maker. It was true. Jackson had dyed his skin white. I was so shocked I threw my sandwich into the waste disposal grinder and kept the wrapper. How could Jackson, supposedly blazing a trail for brown people, abandon us?
But the following day Jackson told his fans that he'd contracted a weird skin disease which had turned him white. I believed him.
Then some time later, the manager showed me a picture of Jackson with white skin, Kirk Douglas's chin, an up-turned Caucasian nose, and long, flowing hair like Elizabeth Taylor.
For a day or so, I postulated the existence of a rare disease which whitened your skin, did cosmetic surgery on your nose, gave you a Kirk Douglas chin, and made your hair long and wavy.
Hero-worshippers like me put years of practice into fooling ourselves. But this time I failed.
Jackson had left his brothers. Not just Jermaine and gang, but all his brothers all over the world. Jackson, a once-beautiful brown boy devoted the rest of his life to reshaping himself in various ways with teams of surgeons. He probably tried having eight legs or two heads (nothing would surprise me). But the easiest thing to fix, his skin tone, stayed lily white. He let us down. If he hadn't, I could have made it. I could have been a waiter.