This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

June 26, 2009

Gary on My Mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 11:30 am

Michael Jackson has died. Michael Jackson, originally from Gary, Indiana…part of”The Region” where many of the Scribe clan still resides. Where me and my family and extended kin will be traveling in a couple days to attend a funeral. My heart is broken at the loss of an aunt who was more like a big sister. She was also a Jackson, and her first born was even a Michael. To my knowledge, no relation to the famous Jacksons also of Gary.

This is not something I can talk about right now. It is easier to talk about how bizarre it is for the King of Pop to have died this same week. It is easier to talk about how hard it is for me to go back to Gary. The Gary of today is not how I remembered it as a child. As the suburban kid with the long braids, who “talked like a White girl.” Gary and East Chicago meant freedom. Freedom to roam the streets to buy “Now’r Laters” and purple pop from the corner store and to build forts in the parking lot. To learn cheers and jump rope rhymes and new dances from the cousins and the neighborhood kids.

Gary was alive.

Now to see Gary is to see a case study of a politician’s or academic’s lament about what happens when work and brain power and youth and stability leaves a community. It is hard to go back to Gary after long stretches away because of the image of the old Gary still in my mind. It is better to hold onto the fantasy than to get on with the work of grieving and moving forward.

Cities, unlike the physical bodies of people, can come back to life after death or near death. Right now, even as I write these words of Gary’s lifelessness, there are people and organizations working to improve The Region. Hopefully I will see proof of this Monday as I ride through the streets on my way to the church or the cemetery.

I can still hear my aunt’s laugh, and the last stories that she told echo in my head. I had thought about taking pictures the last time she was here at my house, just days before her death. But I was having too much fun just relaxing and laughing and listening to the tall tales and relating my own. I figured, now that we all lived in the same city, there would be other opportunities to take pictures.

I was wrong.

Yet, I am glad that I spent the time just being together. I took pictures and videos with my mind, and they will never be lost.

Michael Jackson has died. An important part of my childhood. My aunt has gone, and we will take her home to Gary. She will never truly be gone.


  1. Hello

    I have not read any other blogs on Micheal Jackson. I refuse to turn on the TV and listen to any news accounts about him. I went to the barber shop today and of course they were talking about Micheal – I walked out.

    Yet, I knew you would give me something I needed to hear. I too was in Gary, Ind, in the 70’s. I was stationed in Indiana and a friend lived there. We would go there quite often.

    Your post, albiet short, was multi-layered. Upon Micheals passing, I didn’t immediately get sad but after reading your post I did. Not necessarily for Micheal (that too) but your post took me somewhere. Like you, his passing took me to a time and place that brings back vivid memories.

    I don’t know how much time you took to prepare that play list but I can’t help but think you were thinking about the words in those songs.

    Your first selection blew me away …you can’t change time …Damn!

    I snapped my fingers, yet at the same time was sadden by the word from The Wiz …”you can’t win” …you can’t win child, you can’t get out of the game

    As I am typing today, I am sitting in a place; the address is 2300.

    I am with you Pscribe, some times the right words are never enough words.

    Comment by careycarey — June 26, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  2. Thanks, Carey 🙂

    Comment by pprscribe — June 26, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

  3. I’m not really wanting to talk about his death and have been asked to write about it on another site (not BlogHer). I’ve got mixed feelings because it feels like opportunism. But aren’t all news stories in part opportunistic, something happens and you have the opportunity to write about it? Perhaps I feel this way because Michael Jackson’s death feels like family has passed on, and as I reflected on a post yesterday, some of our youth. When I got up this morning, I whispered to myself, “Michael Jackson’s dead.” Still not real to me.

    I didn’t realize you were associated with Indiana. When I read that and that you’ll be returning for your aunt’s funeral, I expected one of your selections would be “Going Back to Indiana” or perhaps a clip from the the J5’s Indiana tour TV special. It’s amazing, looking back, that they had TV specials and a cartoon too. That was doing a period where we were still not used to seeing black people on TV so much.

    As usual you don’t do the mundane or the expected. As for Michael’s music, Mrs. Grapevine said there’s no wrong Michael song for this moment. I so agree but am also saddened that we have to be in this moment, a place none of us wanted to be so soon, a moment that feels surreal.

    Enjoyed this trip with you down memory lane. I remember Now’r Laters. 🙂

    Also, please accept my condolences on your family’s loss. Have a safe trip to Indiana.

    Comment by nordette aka verite — June 26, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

  4. My prayers for you and yours during this time of loss as to the Jackson family.
    I unlike others did not cry or scream or faint, did not play MJ music all night and day and did not watch more than 4 MJ videos (not including the OSF videos). As a child I loved MJ, as an adult … not so much. He had songs that I loved and others …ehh.
    However I do acknowledge the devastating loss of talent in a world where good talent & entertainment is at minimum.
    I hope he was right with his maker and now has found the peace which eluded him in life… RIP – MJ.

    Comment by regina — June 26, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  5. Thanks, Nordette. Yes, tho not from birth I guess I claim Hoosier status. So many folks have been talking about the MJ-Prince rivalry. But before that was the J5-Osmond rivalry—and there was definitely a racial element to that. Glad you enjoyed the music. I am partial to the much older stuff, before MJ was crowned “King of Pop.”

    Thanks to you, too, Regina for the condolences. I wonder if part of what MJ means for people is a generational thing. (Not making any assumptions about your age. :-)) He was just 10 years older than me so was of my generation, and as Nordette says, he and his brothers were everywhere when that was rare for Black folks.

    Comment by pprscribe — June 27, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

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