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Michael Jackson Wanted To Be White?: A lesson plan

Do we really know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Michael Jackson wanted to be white? That’s what I’ve asked my students every time they’ve said that to me. How do you know? Is your answer based on face value?

As journalists, we shouldn’t be reporting a story to share what we think. Hopefully, we are presenting a balanced view of a story after exhausting all available resources.

So why does this matter with The Michael Jackson transformation story? Well, I’ve been irritated by the coverage and the 20+ years of people assuming that Michael Jackson wanted to be white. Maybe he wanted to be Chinese? Indian? Maybe not. 

The purpose of this lesson plan is for students to learn how to probe deeper than what’s on the surface, and to not fall prey to popular opinion. It’s been my belief that ALL students are journalists, in their own right, and they should be on a constant quest to challenge popular opinion in an effort to find the truth.

Lesson Plan: Michael Jackson Wanted To Be White. Says Who?

Using online resources, answer the following questions and be sure to cite your sources.

Warm-up questions.
1) What is your opinion about the late Michael Jackson’s looks?
2)  Do you feel he wanted to be white? Why? Provide comprehensive reasons for your answer.

Guiding questions:
3) After viewing the video, explain what diseases Michael Jackson was reported to have had, by his dermatologist.
4) Do you believe him? If not, why?
5) How does Michael respond after Oprah asks him about his plastic surgery? Click the following link.  In your opinion, does it look like Oprah has had any form of plastic surgery? Why do you think I would pose this question?
6) How does Michael respond when Oprah asks about him wanting to be white? How would defend yourself if someone accused of you trying to be something you’re not? Provide a well thought out argument in Michael’s defense. 
7) Read the following article, what does J. Randy Taraborrelli say regarding Michael Jackson’s nose job? In the article, is there proof to his claim? What would be one follow-up question you would ask Taraborrelli?
8) Read the following article, list reasons as to why you would not use this story as a source. What’s wrong with it?
9) Read the following article, list five opinions the writer states. Find the facts, in the article that backs-up her claims. 
10) The big question you should be asking yourself is, "how do we know?" Our opinion is just that, an opinion. Now that you’ve researched the changing faces of Michael Jackson, what is your opinion?

Comments

  1. Aaron Grill says:

    Great lesson plan! Thanks!

  2. Amy Bowllan says:

    Thanks, Aaron! Feel free to pass it along to your colleagues.

  3. Jayne says:

    There are so many lessons from MJ’s life. I am excited if math and spelling and writing would also be linked to the genius of Michael Jackson. Many of these men didn’t get their due honor in life, like Scott Joplin. Thanks for doing honor to such a great entertainer of our time.

  4. George Edward Stanley says:

    Kudos to you, Amy! You’re getting students to THINK! Far too often, students are simply asked to give back on a test what they read in a book or heard from an instructor. No wonder they believe what they read in newspapers or magazines or online – or hear on the radio or on television. For the most part, they’re “educated” to do this. Your lesson plan could easily become a templet for many other topics and subjects.

  5. dita.dita says:

    Wow – it’s amazing how you turn everyday and sensational topics into lessons…this is fantastic!

  6. Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu says:

    I was saddened to hear that Michael Jackson had lupus. How he must have suffered! The disease itself (all-consuming intermittent pain and fatigue, lack of libido, the skin disfigurement that can go along with it) and trying to keep it a secret must have been a tremendous burden. We have choices in how we react to things, but I think I can understand him better now knowing that he was ill.

  7. Amy Bowllan says:

    Thank you, Annie! I too was saddened to hear of this. It’s a story that wasn’t publicized in the media, which makes me wonder. It’s never too late to keep asking the question, why?

  8. Software says:

    Thank you for another great post.
    I look forward to many more entries with high quality info.

  9. HARPO says:

    WHETHER michael jackson WNATED TO BE WHITE, CHINESE, INDIAN, SPANISH OR NOT IS NOT THE QUESTION! THE FACT IS mj DID NOT WANT TO BE HIMSELF!