Michael Jackson Studies

According to Guinness World Records Michael Jackson is the most awarded artist of all time. At the time of his death, legal proceedings revealed that he suffered from clinical exhaustion, combined with the inability to sleep. Over the period of his four-decade long career he suffered from second-degree burns while filming a commercial, broke a leg while performing at a concert, suffered from a broken vertebrae, also sustained while performing, and underwent significant plastic surgery. Michael Jackson’s addiction to painkillers developed while recovering from these major injuries (cosmetic surgery included) and they were the gateway to his addiction to other prescription drugs such as antidepressants and the lethal dose of propofol (Diprivan), a powerful anesthetic administered intravenously in hospitals to induce and maintain anesthesia during surgery, which induced his fatal cardiac arrest June 25, 2009. Who was Michael Jackson? 

To some Michael Jackson was at once a trickster and a culture hero. He was an Afro-futuristic shape shifting, gender bending, transracial philanthropist with a elementary and middle school diploma from Motown Records. To others he was a man-child trapped in the fantasy of Neverland Valley. He was the abused child star with a debilitating fear of aging. He was a savvy businessman and unlikely heir to the Beatle’s catalogue. He was the biological father of three white children. Complex like his moonwalk. Part of the torture, for both Michael and the people who loved him, was that he was a little of all of these things, and more. But above all, Michael Jackson was a human being who cracked under the pressure of the collective needs of fans, religion, managers, family, journalists and industry peers and as Baldwin would say this was "The Price of the Ticket." 

Determined to make sense of Michael Jackson's life and global impact, I  produced a two-day forum for artists, academics, educators, and fans to engage in dialogue on the many “faces” of Michael Jackson in conversation with his four-decade long public presence in the black experience consciousness. The forum was hosted and co-produced by The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. 

 Opening Plenary: Toure and Nelson George 

Opening Plenary: Toure and Nelson George 

 Mark Anthony Neal, Asadullah Muhammad and Deejay Reborn panelist for "Keep it in the Closet: The historic speculation around MJ's gender bending persona"

Mark Anthony Neal, Asadullah Muhammad and Deejay Reborn panelist for "Keep it in the Closet: The historic speculation around MJ's gender bending persona"

 Moderator Esther Armah

Moderator Esther Armah

 Asadullah Muhammad. 

Asadullah Muhammad. 

Entertainment with a Thesis