Michael Jackson – “Black or White” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” is an anthem celebrating racial unity. Through upbeat rhythms and powerful lyrics, Jackson delivers a clear message: love transcends race. While addressing societal issues, the song urges listeners to focus on unity and togetherness, stating that color is irrelevant when it comes to love. Jackson aimed to tackle racial stereotypes and preach equality. The track is a bold statement against discrimination and for acceptance at its very core.

Ready for a deeper journey into this iconic track? Let’s explore the layers and messages hidden within.

“Black or White” Lyrics Meaning

The introductory dialogue paints a scene many can relate to: generational disagreement over music. This fleeting moment of domestic life is interrupted by the song’s irresistible rhythm, drawing us into its core message.

Jackson kicks off with “I took my baby on a Saturday bang,” setting the scene for the confrontation of racial prejudices, evident when someone asks, “Boy, is that girl with you?” It’s an immediate challenge to interracial relationships, which Jackson dispels by declaring they’re “one and the same.”

He believes in miracles, a testament to the changing times where racial unity was becoming more prevalent. The chorus, with its confident proclamation, “It don’t matter if you’re black or white,” reinforces this message of unity and acceptance. Further, Jackson mentions the “Saturday Sun,” a nod to media and how it perpetuates racial narratives. He asserts his belief in equality, emphasizing that it’s a matter of right and wrong, not black and white.

The bridge offers a strong declaration against racial bias. Jackson is “tired of this devil,” perhaps hinting at society’s prejudiced ways. The subsequent lines speak against fear and intimidation from racially motivated aggression. L.T.B.’s rap offers a global perspective, pointing out that it’s not just about individual races but nations and clubs. The idea of not wanting to “spend my life being a color” encapsulates the song’s essence.

Towards the end, Jackson’s plea is evident. He requests agreement and understanding, highlighting again that love and unity transcend color boundaries. The song ends with an infectious chant, a simple yet potent reminder of its message: “It’s black, it’s white”.

The Story Behind “Black or White”

The early 90s was a pivotal time in history. Racial tensions, especially in the U.S., were at a palpable high. Michael Jackson, already a prominent figure in the music industry, did not shy away from social issues. Having faced racial discrimination himself, Jackson felt a personal connection to the subject. He often used his platform to advocate for equality, peace, and unity.

“Black or White” was released in 1991, a period when Jackson was at the peak of his career. He was in a place of power and influence and wanted to utilize that to make impactful statements. Collaborating with producer Bill Bottrell, Jackson crafted a song that was both catchy and profound. Their goal was not just to create a hit, but to echo a message that needed to be heard.

While the track was indeed rooted in the topic of racial harmony, it was also broader in its scope. Michael was addressing discrimination in all its forms. By intertwining personal experiences with global issues, Jackson painted a comprehensive picture of the world as he saw it.

The iconic black panther dance sequence in the song’s music video further emphasized his stance against racial prejudice. His transformation into various ethnic backgrounds in the video showcased a united world, a vision Jackson hoped for.