Bernie, Trump, and Michael Jackson

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Fasten your seatbelt: this might be a tad provocative. But give me a chance to explain why these names are connected and critical in this moment.

Bernie and Trump are both tapping into something powerful and important. There are a lot of angry white men in this country who believe they’ve been screwed, and they’re right. Though they have some privilege, being white and male doesn’t protect them from a system which systematically crashes and burns.

Turns out they are vulnerable like the rest of us.

Bernie blames it on the economy, Trump blames it on immigrants. I happen to think Bernie is right, but that is not my point. My point is that until straight white men have some exciting role models for navigating their own oppression and creating alternatives to mainstream culture, we’ll all pay the price.

Straight White Men

There’s an interesting insight into this dilemma from Young Jean Lee, a Korean-American playwright who created a play called Straight White Men.  It grew out of her experience asking a room full of people of color, queers and women how they wanted straight white men to act. She took the information, turned it into a character who acted the way they wanted straight white men to act, and introduced him back to the same audience, without telling that audience who he was.

They hated him!

Lee notes that no one likes a loser, and that’s what they were asking straight white men to be.

If we really want straight white men to change, we need transformative behavior models that are positively addicting to them and to us. Ways of living that are so sexy and fun and profoundly moving that straight white men love being that way, and the rest of us all want more of it.

We need that aliveness to fuel the difficult work of healing generations of trauma, restoring the Earth and developing new/ancient ways of caring for each other.

Michael as Role Model

The thing about Michael Jackson is that he was a thrilling role model for everyone. (Yes, he was a heterosexual Black man; I hope we never forget that.  And…) He was an extraordinary example of power and compassion, strength and tenderness, humility and pride, warrior and healer, divine masculine and divine feminine all in one beautiful body. But he did it with fireworks. He did it with audacity. He did it with a fierce commitment to freedom for his people and for everyone else, and made us hunger for more.

Of course, it wasn’t easy. Challenging the music industry’s racism and facing the backlash in tabloids and courtrooms must have been hell. And white men are going to be experiencing their own hell as they face (or are forced to face) their complicity in a system that has maimed and murdered billions.

But look at the joy Michael expressed on stage. Look at the delight he found in his life. Look at the delicious creativity he wielded. He used it to transform those attacks into songs and films that healed the world. Such emotions fueled him through the hard times.

That’s why this queer white woman wants straight white men to be as humble and as fiery as Michael Jackson.

Could Trump white male supporters ever get this? Could Bernie’s?

Can we survive if they don’t?

Introducing the Real Michael Jackson

If you aren’t familiar with the visionary healer and activist I’m describing, you are not alone. The media continually misrepresented and lied about him, and still does so today. These are a few of many excellent resources:

Michael’s music videos/short films:

Michael’s Cultural and Political Impact

  • D.B. Anderson. “The Messenger King: Michael Jackson and the Politics of #BlackLivesMatter.” The Baltimore Sun. December 9, 2014.  Says it like it is: Michael was attacked for his politics. A searing op-ed connecting BlackLivesMatter with Michael’s activism. Highly recommended. Written by a former advisor to Bill Clinton, printed in mainstream media.
  • Willa Stillwater. M Poetica: Michael Jackson’s Art of Connection and Defiance, Kindle Edition, 2011, 2013. Absolutely amazing. If you want to understand Michael’s tactics and impact on culture, particularly around race and his impact on white audiences, this is a must-read.
  • Fast, Susan. Michael Jackson’s Dangerous (33 1/3). Bloomsbury, 2013. Another must-read.
  • Toni Bowers. “Dancing with Michael Jackson: Baltimore and it’s discontents.” Los Angeles Review of Books. May 14, 2015.  In this moving piece, Bowers argues that “the same structures of injustice that are permitting civil authorities to murder unarmed American citizens right now also hurt Jackson, and that his case can help us to understand and resist those structures.” Highly recommended.

Media Baloney


Book by Michael:

  • Jackson, Michael. Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections. Doubleday, 1992. Beautifully reveals his spiritual approach to life as well as his sensitivity to and care for the world and all it’s peoples. A must-read.





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Keely Meagan is a writer, activist, healer, rebel and visionary. She is eternally grateful to Michael Jackson for showing us ways to effectively transform the world by waging peace with love; cultivating spiritual power; healing trauma; speaking truth to power; standing firmly in our whole, beautiful, complex selves, and never ever giving up.

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3 Responses

  1. Gail Snyder
    | Reply

    This is a really PROvocative theme you’re onto, Keely!! I hope you continue to flesh it out! Are there any white men out there currently who fit this bill? (Bernie Sanders is one. I bet there are more if we dig!) I’D sure like to meet them and work with them! And we need to start raising young white boys in this new example. Thanks again!!

    • Keely Meagan
      | Reply

      PROvocative…I love it! I’m sure there are more out there. We sure do need to thank them for blazing a trail. And I love the thought of young white boys following that example!

  2. Judy Herzl
    | Reply

    Fabulous piece, I love what you are getting at here…I hope you keep writing about this.

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