For The Root Thursday I wrote about Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney who was tragically murdered along with eight others when 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire on a Bible study group at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C. Wednesday night. Thursday was an incredibly sad day, hearing about those who died, but Pinckney’s name was the first confirmation we received of who died, so I quickly wrote a post about Pinckney who his friend, Bakari Sellers, described as an “all-around good guy.” Continue reading
Advice columnist Nia Orms attended the Memorial service for Michael Jackson Wednesday. Here is her first-hand account of the day’s event.
By Nia Orms
I didn’t know if I should go to Michael Jackson’s funeral.
Even as I sat in traffic three blocks away from the Staples Center on Tuesday, I was hoping that my driver for the day would tell me that we were late and they would not let me in. However, my guest was eager to hop out of the car and walk so we wouldn’t miss a minute of the funeral and that’s what we did. In my heels and the most innocent black dress I could find I walked three long blocks to a side entrance. The police were out in force, yet there were still four or five fine, and I mean fine, muscular black men in suits standing in front of a barricade. Perhaps they were hired by the Jackson family for “real security.”
Just when I thought we’d reached the entrance, officers stopped us and told us we would have to walk even further to a side entrance — the wrong entrance. While I was upset over the long walk I realized that this wasn’t what was actually bothering me. I was really mad because I don’t like funerals. They bring back memories and temporarily drown me in sorrow and make me forget that I truly believe that life is eternal.
I turned my heels around, wiped the sweat from my face without messing up my makeup and began to walk again. I looked to my left and saw a black SUV and a hearse slowly driving next to me. It was Michael. My long legs were able to keep up with him as I clearly looked through the window of the hearse and saw his casket. All of a sudden it became real and I thanked God for the police men sending me to the wrong way. Seeing his casket in that hearse on the street reminded me that we are all the same.
We are born with talents and gifts and it is our duty to give that to the world. Michael did what he knew he could do that no one else could duplicate. That was his purpose and I believe that should be ours.
When I finally entered the actual interior of the Staples Center it suddenly felt love. The love you feel the first time you’ve met your soul mate or held a newborn. Almost 20,000 people filled the seats and I swear you could hear a pin drop. Of course all of the celebrities were there but there were no egos present. All of the rappers did not have their “girl of the week” with them — they brought their mamas. The actresses were not flashing their latest designer purses and new hair extensions — they looked humble and subdued. Everyone was a real person that day. Even Chris Brown was there with an died orange colored lightning bolt cut in the back of his hair but no one cared or rolled their eyes, all you saw was a young man sitting in a chair paying respect to his idol.
I was sitting right behind the family in the floor seating where all of the celebrities were seated. Lottery winners sat in the higher seats that circled the arena. Celebrities near me were, Spike Lee, Kobe Bryant, Diddy, but no one was really a celebrity that day. Everyone was emotional and taking in everything that was happening on stage. I have famous friends who called me the day after and said, “were you there? I was there.” This is because people could only think and see Michael that day.
The family was very emotional throughout the ceremony. They comforted each other as one would break down. Paris, Michael’s 11-year-old daughter, leaned her head on her grandmother often. The family sang songs and smiled to each other as if the music brought back beautiful memories. Paris took care of her younger brother, Blanket, like she was his mother. She pulled his fingers out of his mouth while they were on stage and told him to keep his hands down. Michael’s children knew the words to his songs so well and smiled while singing. You could tell Michael sang to them all of the time.
Many moments were profound as the ceremony progressed. The footage of young Michael brought tears to people’s eyes because we were reminded of how genius he was at ten years old. People laughed at the costumes that the Jackson five used to wear. John Mayer’s performance had more of an impact in person than the footage that I saw on TV. It seemed as if everyone thought he was going to sing at first but then everyone just got into his groove. The applause for Rev. Al Sharpton were embarrassingly small when he first walked on stage but as he preached he had people jumping up from their seats cheering. And after Paris spoke there was a second that seemed like an hour of pure silence and then most people began to cry. We could feel her pain and her sadness so intensely.
You may have seen the eulogies and performances on TV but I wish you could have felt the love. Stevie Wonder and Brooke Shields had a tremendous impact on us because they had real history with Michael and they spoke from the heart. His daughter’s last words on stage were, “and I love him so much.” I can’t seem to escape coming back to love being the purpose of our lives. On Tuesday, that was what it was all about, love. There were no thoughts of what Michael did or didn’t do with his personal life. The only thing that was present was the love that he gave through his gifts and talents. I hope that we can all try to give even half of what he gave. Michael, I love you and love is all around us.
Nia Orms is a writer and actress based out of Los Angeles, Calif. who is The Black Snob’s resident advice columnist. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line marked “Ask Nia.” To learn more about Nia and her one-woman show, click here. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright niaorms 2009
Goes live at noon CST. The Snob will be listening and watching the CNN Live report online.
2:43 p.m. CST: And that is it. Jermaine, Stevie Wonder and Brooke Shields made me sad. MJ’s beautiful daughter Paris made me cry. Janet Jackson made me want her dress and hat (she was on point). Rev. Al Sharpton gave an awesome speech and is it wrong that I wish I’d taped the whole thing? That was one of the best tributes/concerts I’d seen since never. It was fun watching it with you guys and it was a fitting way to say good-bye to a music icon we will never see again in our lifetimes.
“Even now the King of Pop must bow before the King of Kings.” Amen.
2:41 p.m. CST: She just wanted to say she loved her daddy so much. I am so glad she didn’t say more than that. I would have died right here in the Barnes and Noble. She is such a sweet faced little girl. Beautiful.
2:40 p.m. CST: Seeing the whole family on stage is just too much. OMG, Paris is talking. And I am done.
2:37 p.m. CST: Janet Jackson and Michael’s daughter Paris are holding hands. Too moving.
2:36 p.m. CST: Aw. The Jacksons are tearing me up here. Be strong guys!
2:33 p.m. CST: Wonderful tribute. I would also like to buy a CD of whatever this Asian looking sista is singing.
2:30 p.m. CST: “Heal the World.” Not my favorite, but this girl really can sing.
2:28 p.m. CST: It started kind of crazy but seeing MJ’s kids and brothers on stage with the singers is pretty touching.
2:26 p.m. CST: OK, the first cat on “We Are the World,” had some mad crazy eye action.
2:25 p.m. CST: Hold your hats. We’re about to see some clips from the tour that never happened.
2:23 p.m. CST: OK. Everyone and their grandma texts and emails me that it’s a kid from Britain’s Got Talent. Thanks Snob-o-sphere. You’re better than “the Google.”
2:21 p.m. CST: The munchkin is ripping it up. He’s no MJ, but he ain’t half bad.
2:19 p.m. CST: Who is this kid? His voice is almost Paul Roberson deep and he is killing me.
2:17 p.m. CST: Friend texts me. “Smokey Robinson looks 45 years old.” I totally want whatever he and Brooke Shields are having.
2:13 p.m. CST: Video of “Who’s Loving You.” Smokey Robinson, “I wrote that song. I thought I sang it.”
2:12 p.m. CST: Group hug for a tore up Usher after “Gone To Soon.” One of my Facebook friends writes, “Props to Usher … the boy can’t pick wives but he sho’ nuff can saaaang!”
2:10 p.m. CST: Usher is straight serenading the casket. And it is awesome.
2:09 p.m. CST: Usher is singing “Gone To Soon.” While the 14-year-old girl in me would prefer that this be Tevin Campbell singing “Gone To Soon,” Raymond is holding it down.
2:08 p.m. CST: All right Usher. Don’t blow this.
2:04 p.m. CST: With Rev. Al, the Kings and now Jackson-Lee up there talking, what’s the chances Jesse or Farakhan will take the stage?
2 p.m. CST: Bernice King brought it, but what is Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee doing here? Even the CBC is coming to represent? Again, the Jacksons roll with some of the most undeniably black folks in the world. I half expect Allen Payne to come out dressed as Dead Mike and start rapping, “He’s black ya’ll! Black ya’ll! He’s blackity black cause he’s black ya’ll,” a la CB4.
1:54 p.m. CST: King III is going to have to do backflips to top Rev. Al.
1:52 p.m. CST: Side note: Will totally buy this DVD from bootleg man. And the CD. And the T-shirt. Jermaine just killed me.
1:49 p.m. CST: I am DONE! Jermaine is singing “Smile” and I’m about to break down in a Barnes & Noble. I am done, done, done! It’s so easy to forget how beautiful Jermaine’s voice is with Michael being the bigger star. But this is by far the most heartfelt rendition I’ve ever heard of such a wonderful song. I’m DONE!
1:48 p.m. CST: JERMAINE IS SINGING!!!!
1:45 p.m. CST: Side note: Brooke Shields looks effing awesome.
1:44 p.m. CST: Brooke is really humanizing MJ in a way no one has. She’s speaking from the heart of a true friend. This isn’t MJ the icon. This MJ, my friend, my prank-pulling buddy, my ace.
1:41 p.m. CST: Suddenly this has turned into a child star version of an AA meeting. I don’t know if Brooke is going to make it as she gives her testimony of what it’s like to meet someone who truly understands where you’re coming from.
1:39 p.m. CST: OMG! It’s Brooke Shields. Where’s Emmanuel Lewis?
1:37 p.m. CST: Wondering how long it will take before the Bootleg Man starts selling DVD copies of MJ’s Memorial because this thing is like Motown 25 on steroids.
1:36 p.m. CST: I hate you John Mayer. I hate you for making me love your version of this song.
1:34 p.m. CST: Someone seems to have either given John Mayer a haircut or I seriously haven’t paid any attention to him in a long ass time. He’s picking out some “Human Nature.” I make fun of Mayer a lot, but I’m glad he’s up there. Boy can play a guitar.
1:32 p.m. CST: “Ain’t nothing strange about yo Daddy,” preaches Sharpton to the kids. One of my Facebook friends opines, “How long with it take KFC to bring out the KFC Michael Jackson memorial bucket!!!!”
1:30 p.m. CST: “He out-sang his cynics!” shouts Sharpton. “Michael never stopped!”
1:29 p.m. CST: First reference of MJ to Obama by Rev. Al. I was waiting on that one.
1:27 p.m. CST: Fascinating irony that despite changes in Michael’s appearance, he hung out with some of the most undeniably black people in the world. Sharpton? Jesse Jackson? Don King? Louis Farakhan? Is this a memorial service or the Million Man March?
1:26 p.m. CST: Rev. Al’s perm is looking extra fresh this afternoon.
1:24 p.m. CST: Considering they only had a few days to pull this all together this just solidifies how sad and pathetic BET’s “tribute” was. It’s like caviar versus grape jelly on a Ritz over here.
1:22 p.m. CST: Jennifer Hudson looks and sounds great and is pregnant as a pause up there in all white. Honestly, during the BET Awards I had expected Beyonce to tackle this song, but J. Hud will gladly do.
1:17 p.m. CST: Not quite sure why Kobe Bryant is speaking other than he’s a Laker and the Jacksons’ are Laker fans. Magic, on the other hand, very apropos. Loving how he’s giving Mike credit for making him a better basketball player and doing a shout out for the time he asked him to be in “Remember the Time.”
1:14 p.m. CST: I can’t get over Wonder’s performance here. He is incredible and destroying every bit of me. I could listen to this man all day.
1:12 p.m. CST: Stevie Wonder is a genius. I swear, his voice has not changed in years. It is still as lovely and rich as ever.
1:09 p.m. CST: Is there such a person in the world who doesn’t love Stevie Wonder’s music? I’d like to meet this person. How can you not love his voice? His skills on the piano and this amazing rendition of “I Never Thought You’d Leave In Summer?” It made me cry the first time I ever heard it.
1:08 p.m. CST: And now Stevie Wonder. And now I’m close to losing it again. I love Stevie Wonder. He says “God must have needed him more” in reference to MJ’s passing.
1:06 p.m. CST: I can’t stand R. Kelly, but he wrote one hell of a song for MJ in “You Are Not Alone.”
1:04 p.m. CST: Aw, hell. Video tribute time.
1:03 p.m. CST: Crowd goes nuts as Gordy calls Michael “the greastest entertainer that ever lived.”
12:57 p.m. CST: Berry Gordy points out that even as a tyke Michael Jackson sang with the depth of a person beyond their years. The song in question — Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Loving You.” And I do love the Jackson 5’s version of that song.
12:55 p.m. CST: Love that all the Jackson brothers have on black and gold with glittery gloves. Someone on Facebook mentioned that if the Jackson kids had gone to college their step team would have been nothing but fire.
12:54 p.m. CST: Success. Did not completely lose my shit during that song. I can keep blogging now.
12:53 p.m. CST: Not sure if me or Lionel Richie will make it through this song.
12:51 p.m. CST: OK. Lionel Richie is singing “Jesus Is Love.” Losing my snark. It’s going … going … gone. Officially starting to get verklempt. I love this song. Snark will return after this song concludes.
12:49 p.m. CST: Realizing I really miss Queen Latifah, the rapper. She truly classes up the Hip Hop experience for me. U.N.I.T.Y. What ya’ll know about that?
12:46 p.m. CST: Queen Latifah is now reading a Maya Angelou tribute to MJ. Very apropos.
12:43 p.m. CST: Tell me that’s actually Trey Lorenz singing with her. If it is I will plotz. Who dug up that brother?
12:39 p.m. CST: Mimi, Mariah aka, The Snob’s own Glitter takes the stage. Where were you when we needed you during the BET Awards? She’s, of course, singing “I’ll be there,” which was a hit for her in the 90s.
12:34 p.m. CST: Choir on stage and finally AUDIO. Thank God. Soon, very soon we are going to see the king. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. We are going to see the king.
12:32 p.m. CST: CNN Live is Interviewing 15-year-old girl named Emerald who says her first MJ song was “Stranger In Moscow.” Shit. I’m OLD. My first MJ song was “Blame It On the Boogie.”
12:30 p.m. CST: Most annoying thing about CNN Live over the internet … they continue to pimp the shit out of Facebook. I get it CNN. You discovered social media. You’re the coolest 14-year-old girl at the dance. Hannah Montana has nothing on you.
12:26 p.m. CST: Celebs spotted so far — Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Louis Farakhan, Robert Townsend, Don King, Kobe Bryant, etc. Not here: Diana Ross and Elizabeth Taylor. Liz totally didn’t want to share her grief with the world. Don’t blame her.
12:24 p.m. CST: More than 20,000 people are crammed into the stadium.
12:18 p.m. CST: Great. Audio problems at the Staple Center. Now I’m trapped listening to the CNN Live hosts who are two cats I’ve never heard of.
12:15 p.m. CST: Listening to Soledad and Andy Coop-A-Doop anchor the memorial coverage. This should be interesting since A) I find the Coop hilarious and B) Soledad is about the most agressive yakker on CNN. Also in the hezzie I believe are my fair Uncle Rolly Rolls, Roland Martin and earlier today they were talking with my ace, Donna Brazile.
As if there wasn’t already enough sadness to go around, former NFL quarterback Steve McNair was found dead Saturday, shot in the head. He and a 20-year-old woman along side him were killed inside his downtown condo.
McNair, who led the famous Tennessee Titans’ drive that came a yard short of forcing overtime in the 2000 Super Bowl, was found dead on a sofa in the living room Saturday with multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head. His friend, Sahel Kazemi, was very close to him on the floor, killed by a single gunshot. A pistol was discovered near her, but police said it took a while to find the firearm.
Authorities didn’t immediately say who was to blame for the killings, but they weren’t looking for any suspects.
McNair, 36, and Kazemi were together just two days earlier, when she was pulled over driving a 2007 Escalade registered to her and McNair. She was arrested on a DUI charges, and he was allowed to leave in a taxi.
McNair and Kazemi apparently knew each other from a restaurant the quarterback and his family frequented, but workers there wouldn’t talk about their relationship. Police also refused to release any details about their relationship, simply calling Kazemi a “friend.”
Autopsies were planned for Sunday.
Police spokesman Don Aaron said McNair’s wife, Mechelle, is “very distraught.”
“At this juncture, we do not believe she is involved,” he said. “Nothing has been ruled out, but as far as actively looking for a suspect tonight, the answer would be no.”
Fred McNair, Steve McNair’s oldest brother, said some family members likely will travel to Nashville on Monday to consult with Mechelle.
“It’s still kind of hard to believe,” Fred McNair said. “He was the greatest person in the world. He gave back to the community. He loved kids and he wanted to be a role model to kids.”
He said he did not know who Kazemi was.
McNair was the second African American quarterback in history to lead a team to the Super Bowl, but lost to the St. Louis Rams. He played most of his career in Tennessee, but played his last two years in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens. He retired from the league in April 2008.
Pop icon Michael Jackson has died and so has my snark. Now all that’s left of my childhood are some old Barbie dolls and a Purple Rain LP. I’ll miss ya’ Mike. “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” was always my favorite song. I owned two different MJ dolls. I broke the hip sockets on both trying to get the little fella to dance. Share your MJ memories below.