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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

‘If You’re Thinking About Being my Baby, it Don’t Matter if you’re Black or White’

November 2, 2012
Writer_Tasneem Sharrem   1991: the year that Michael Jackson released ‘Black or White’. I was in primary school at the time and recall the buzz surrounding the release of the single. As a child who grew up watching ‘Moonwalker’, furiously rewinding parts in a bid to learn the ‘Smooth Criminal’ routine (and inevitably falling over…

Writer_Tasneem Sharrem

 

1991: the year that Michael Jackson released ‘Black or White’.

I was in primary school at the time and recall the buzz surrounding the release of the single. As a child who grew up watching ‘Moonwalker’, furiously rewinding parts in a bid to learn the ‘Smooth Criminal’ routine (and inevitably falling over while trying to recreate the lean), the release of this single was a pretty big deal. I remember catching a snippet of the video on GMTV before being rushed to school by my mum. MJ was singing from the torch of the Statue of Liberty. As you do.

On hearing the song, the distinctive riff stuck in my head as well as the ‘Black or White’ chorus. I was old enough at the time to understand the message being relayed and identify with it to an extent. You see, I grew up in a multicultural area of London and had friends of different nationalities at primary school. I don’t recall even remarking on their colour, just considering them my friends.

Identity has always been a mish-mash of elements as a British-Bangladeshi Muslim girl born to parents who are equally modern and traditional; one might even say it was rather confusing at times.  Even so, I don’t know that I ever envisaged I would end up marrying a white Welsh guy from the valleys. While it wasn’t quite as straight forward as MJ made out and involved a number of compromises from both parties, in the end, that chorus rang true for me. Saying that, to quote the rap, I fervently agree that ‘I’m not going to spend my life being a colour’. Word.