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By Stephane Dunn, PhD.


Saturday,  June 27, 2009.

The calls came fast – Michael Jackson was dead! The words flashed across the screen in typical pop news form – sensational and impersonal. I muted the television and stopped taking calls. It was not hot, shocking news to me. It was heartbreaking.

I want you back

Michael was my first crush. There were the posters on my wall and the journal entries about meeting and marrying him and protecting him all that might wound him.

Abc, 123


As a little girl, my cousins and I lip synced, kicked, and spun, trying to follow the studded bell bottoms of Michael and his brothers. In secret I wrote him letters by the dozens and sat in my room, daydreaming of our fairytale love story.

Just call my name and I’ll be there

Later, I ‘shook my body to the ground’ and grew into adolescence as Michael, the wide eyed cutie with the magical voice, eased out of the Afro on his way to the Jheri curl and a solo career.

Keep on, don’t Stop ‘till you get enough

I moved beyond posters on the walls and accepted that he was a star flung too far for me to marry – though I hung on to the prayer that at least we’d meet. He was still my Michael and I stood applauding telling him to go on with his bad self as he moon-walked onto MTV and further into pop performance history.

Reaching out to touch a stranger

The lighter his skin got, the more that nose changed, the more I worried about him. But still the voice, the feet, and something of that little boy of long ago remained in the eyes. The awards, the glove, the sparkling sock, and the imitators came and went and the stories grew.


Just call my name and I’ll be there


Weird, bizarre, - the king of pop branded child molester, masked freak, wanna-be-white recluse, bad father. And he retreated even, from that beloved stage that had so long been home and went further in search, I believe, of a wonder-world fit for the child the spotlight and fame had stolen him from too early. And there he was – the barred topic, the disgraced has-been pop star, fallen prey to the world’s amnesia.

You’ve got a friend in me

They will say, are saying, he was a musical genius, a pop icon. They will catalog his ‘bizarre behavior’, trot long anonymous fans across the television screen, show images of flower tributes against the back drop of his pale face and ‘Michael Jackson 1958-2009.’ They will debate the sequence of his death, calculate his emotional state, review his achievements and cultural importance, and surmise on the future of his children.

I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love

None of it will mean much to me – not the images, the talk, and debates. I’ll be mourning my Michael, my first crush, the boy with James Brown and Jackie Wilson in his feet, the man with the sweetness and the haunted soul in his voice . . .

Oh I never can say good-bye . . .


Dr Stephane Dunn, MFA, is currently an Assistant Professor in the English Department at
Morehouse College. She has also taught at Ohio State University. A scholarly and creative writer, she specializes in film, popular culture, literature and African American studies. She is the author of articles and commentaries and the book, Baad Bitches & Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films (University of Illinois Press 2008).

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