SENTINEL 1-27-2011
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The King of Pop & Sharing Beds

What Michael meant

January 27, 2011

Since his death Michael Joseph Jackson is an angel that can do no wrong. But back when I defended him before the world as the Jackson family spokesman, it seemed there was no shortage of people castigating him for saying that he saw nothing wrong with sharing his bed with little boys. Though he regularly had little girls and boys visit Neverland, when it came to bedtime the boys separated from the girls, just as they did when he was a little boy growing up in his own large family's household. 

And when friends and relatives came to town with no place to stay, it was not uncommon for adult men to sleep with young boys. Fast forward. Michael is interviewed by Ed Bradley of CBS on 60 Minutes in December 2003.

"When Bradley asks Jackson if he would allow his own children to sleep in a bed with a grown man who was not a relative, or to sleep in that man's bedroom, Jackson replies, ‘Sure, if I know that person, trust them, and love them. That's happened many times with me when I was little.'"

Why many times? Because when Blacks traveled in an openly segregated America they were not afforded accommodations. Consequently, there was a need for The Negro Motorist Green Book.

"The Negro Motorist Green Book was a publication released in 1936 that served as a guide for African-American travelers. Because of the racist conditions that existed from segregation, blacks needed a reference manual to guide them to integrated or black-friendly establishments," says one source.

"That's when they turned to The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide by activist Victor Green and presented by the Esso Standard Oil Company. Originally provided to serve Metropolitan New York, the book received such an alarming response, it was spread throughout the country within one year. The catch phrase was ‘Now we can travel without embarassment [sic].'

"The Green Book often provided information on local tourist homes, which were private residences owned by blacks and open to travelers. It was especially helpful to blacks that traveled through sunset towns or towns that publicly stated that blacks had to leave the town by sundown or it would be cause for arrest. Also listed were hotels, barbershops, beauty salons, restaurants, garages, liquor stores, ball parks and taverns. It also provided a listing of the white-owned, black-friendly locations for accommodations and food.

"The publication was free, with a 10-cent cost of shipping. As interest grew, the Green Book solicited salespersons nationwide to build its ad sales. Inside the pages of the Green Book were action photos of the various locations, along with historical and background information for the readers' review. Within the pages of the introduction, the guide states, There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States."

Whatever happened to this publication? "The Green Book printed its last copy in 1964 after the passing of the Civil Rights Act."

Now, suddenly we have context regarding the significance of Michael's completely innocuous statement, "That's happened many times with me when I was little." Yes, adult men and boys shared beds, bathrooms, clothes, and trunks of cars when the occasion called for it. (Yes, as a little boy I shared a car trunk with an adult male as we snuck into the drive-in.)

Adults sleeping with children even moves into the realm of the sacred. In showing that God will help us if we keep asking, Jesus used an illustration of a man's friend prevailing upon him in the middle of the night. The friend says: "Quit making me trouble. The door is already locked, and my young children are with me in bed; I cannot rise up and give you anything." (Lu 11:7) Now, while commentators debate the meaning of this text, it should not be anachronistically examined retrospectively. Even frightened children occasionally sleep with parents (or adult guardians) today. 

In any event, the Lord encouraged: "Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened." (Lu 11:5-10) Seek understanding in recognizing Michael's sweet, childlike innocence. Peace and blessings to all. Amen.