Working Day and Night': Performing Black Manhood as the King of Pop

Prof. Adreanna Clay, San Francisco State University

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Prof. Adreanna Clay recounts a 1969 television appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, where a child Michael Jackson leads his brothers in a cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” singing lyrics about love lost on the playground. However, through this skillful portrayal of an adult male mourning the loss of his true love, he was accepted as a man. In her talk, Clay argues that the public’s sexualization and later disposal of Michael Jackson as a Black male in the public sphere, mirrors the spectacularization of Black men and Black male bodies in popular culture and discourse.

Prof. Adreanna Clay recounts a 1969 television appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, where a child Michael Jackson leads his brothers in a cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” singing lyrics about love lost on the playground. However, through this skillful portrayal of an adult male mourning the loss of his true love, he was accepted as a man. In her talk, Clay argues that the public’s sexualization and later disposal of Michael Jackson as a Black male in the public sphere, mirrors the spectacularization of Black men and Black male bodies in popular culture and discourse.