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SoulBounce’s Top 50 Michael Jackson Songs: #43 ‘They Don’t Care About Us’

Beat me, hate me
You can never break me

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The word "militant" would probably never bring to mind the icon we know as Michael Jackson. Yet, that's the first word that came to mind when I first heard "They Don't Care About Us," which came out in 1996 as the fourth single from his album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. He was putting it all out there. Speaking about everything from derogatory racial slurs to the disproportionate jailing of Black men, Michael was speaking the truth of how he saw the world. As biting and aggressive as this song is, with its staccato beat and unforgiving chorus chant, I was filled with such pride and respect for Michael who, for the first time it seemed, identified with the plight and position of the disenfranchised in this world as a disenfranchised person, instead of one of entitlement, wealth and fame. 

The corresponding videos, one with MJ traveling to the slums of Brazil long before Snoop Dogg and Pharrell discovered the sun-kissed paradise of the South American country and a second with Michael dressed as an inmate amidst a sea of jailed Black men further marked the boldness Jackson during this era. The latter video, directed by Spike Lee, was perhaps the first time as an adult that Michael used his art to express specifically the injustice of the government towards people of color. The words and lyrics of this song held such proverbial commentary that the Million Man March leader Louis Farrakhan referenced it in a speech eulogizing Jackson last year after his death. "You saw Michael's color going from Black to White," Farrakhan said, " that's the outside journey. But the inside journey Michael was going from White to Black."


Michael Jackson: "They Don't Care About Us"


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3 Responses

  1. So agressive, so powerful......the african drums, the rhythm, and his vocals, go so hard!. I love how so many of our own people beat Michael down and say that he didnt wanna be Black. They honestly believe that he bleached his skin and got all the plastic surgery because he wanted to be white. Meanwhile......he's writing "Liberian Girl," and "They Don't Care About Us".....lol. And Farrakhan always acts like he knows how Michael felt when he dosen't know shit. I hate to hear him talk about Michael because he has no clue what he's talking about. He gets me very angry. He actually said, "You saw Michael's color going from Black to White, that's the outside journey. But the inside journey was Michael going from White to Black"? Are you kidding me? How dare he say some bullshit like that. He must honestly believes that Micahel was a white man trapped inside a Black man's body? Well Farrakhan, We don't believe you, you need more people!

  2. Loved this song from the very first played it.
    Just showed that MJ was not weak or meek and wasn't taking anymore sh!t.
    His own 'kicking azz and taking names' song.
    You can tell he created this beat with his signature beat boxing method. Classic.
    And loved both videos especially the one in Brazil....he just seemed more socially connected to the people and the energy around him (and nice to see him in a pair of stone washed jeans..lol).



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