With the recent, (accidental or homicidal) mysterious death of Michael Jackson, his life is being analyzed from top to bottom. Who will parent the children? Will the mother of the children come forth? Is Michael's biological mother, Katherine, too old to rear the young children? Will Joe Jackson have input on the child rearing of Michael's children?
One thing's for sure: I think Joe Jackson is getting a bad rap and not being accurately portrayed. The Jackson story is an all-American success story, with Joe Jackson at the center. Joe Jackson was a black man with a stay-at-home wife raising a large family. The couple had 10 children -- one child, Brandon, was Marlon's twin and died at birth. Mr. Jackson was a laborer working in the steel mills of Gary, Indiana. He played guitar on the side in local bars as an outlet for his creative talent and to supplement his income. He saw musical talent in his children. He did what parents do and taught his children what he knew. He saw an opportunity for them and developed their talent. When they acquired a reasonable amount of success, he quit his steel mill job and fostered his children's raw gifts. Perhaps, he hoped, they could move out of Gary. Perhaps they could have a career in show business. Perhaps they could live their dream and none of them would ever work in the steel mill.
Jackson knew the value of discipline, practice, determination and focus -- the basic steps to success. He had boys, and boys sometimes require discipline. Sometimes they even need spanking or whippings. It is the old school way of black fathers of Joe's generation and customary in black families. Every black family has a Joe, and the kids grew up to be somebody. Joe was about the business of making his children into something. He was coming out of Gary. He was coming out of the ghetto. He was providing his children with a better life. His young son, Michael, was the most talented of the Jackson crew, and he showed great promise. He had older brothers who taught him, and he had a natural talent. They were probably hard on cute, little Michael, but so it goes with younger children. Joe saw talent and developed it. As a child, Michael missed some things, like the playground and children's games because Poppa Joe made them practice, rehearse and record. Joe had a plan. That doesn't make him a bad guy. It makes him a disciplined father.
Black fathers, for the most part, catch flak. The white media, on the outside looking in, only sees abandonment and neglect, among other things, but here's a father who was in the household, who raised his children, who whipped them as he saw necessary and he's portrayed as a criminal. He was a good father. He provided. He nurtured. He developed. He disciplined. The end result is that his plan worked. They left Gary; he gave them all musical careers; he made them all stars.
So what that he whipped them? Perhaps a page could be borrowed from his child-rearing book. Perhaps he could give lessons on child-rearing practices. Perhaps he could teach other parents how to develop skill in their children. Perhaps he could develop a lecture series on leaving the ghetto and not giving a damn what they say. Perhaps Michael had hang-ups about not playing on the playground. Perhaps he was a victim of his gifted talent and hanging around his older brothers before he was old enough to appreciate that some things caused problems. But don't we all leave our childhoods with some hang-ups? Did your parents make you do your homework before you went outside to play? Or read before you could watch television? Or do your chores before you could have company? Don't we all have an "I-wish-I could-have-done-something-that-I didn't-get-to-do-as-a-child" moment? You either grow up and have hang-ups or you grow up to appreciate your parents' child rearing practices because it made you who you are.
Joseph and Katherine Jackson were great parents and need to be considered as such. Bravo. Kudos. A job well done. Their children became successful. One of their children became famous globally and will go down in history as the greatest entertainer ever.
The discipline worked.
Forgive the white media, for they cannot always interpret our stories, but the white media needs to get over it.
Take another look and applaud them as an American success story.
They left the ghetto. They have made their mark in American history. They had a plan to overcome American racism. They played to their talents and won. Look where they came from and look where they ended up.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the good news about Joseph Jackson.
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