Meaning of “Black or White” by Michael Jackson

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” is a vibrant anthem for racial unity and harmony. It’s about recognizing and celebrating the love that transcends skin color. The message is clear: love and people are not defined by race. With a powerful mix of rock and pop, Jackson delivers a song that tackles racism head-on, affirming that when it comes to matters of the heart and human dignity, we’re all the same. The songwriter wants to send a resounding message against discrimination, advocating for equality and reminding us that in the grand scheme of things, race should be irrelevant. It’s not about a person per se, but about humanity as a whole. Jackson, influenced by his own experiences and the world around him, wrote this song to take a stand and promote a world where being ‘black or white’ is not a barrier to love or respect.

Are you ready to look beyond the surface? “Black or White” isn’t just a catchy tune – it’s a bold statement on race, love, and unity. Dive deeper with me, and let’s explore the powerful message Michael Jackson shared with the world. Get ready to think, feel, and maybe even see things a little differently.

“Black or White” Lyrics Meaning

From the get-go, Jackson’s lyrics in “Black or White” are a celebration of unity. The opening lines of the song set the stage for a narrative where love knows no color. He takes us through a journey with his baby, implying that love transcends race with the question, “Boy, is that girl with you?” which suggests the unity between him and his partner, regardless of their skin color.

The chorus is where the magic happens. Jackson’s belief in miracles serves as a metaphor for the transformative power of love and equality. The emphatic, “It don’t matter if you’re black or white,” reverberates as a rallying cry for inclusiveness and against racial prejudice. This refrain is the heart of the song, underscoring the central message that our focus should be on the individual, not their race.

In the second verse, there’s a shift to the personal and public discourse on race, with “They print my message in the Saturday Sun” highlighting the spread of his message through media. But he asserts his prominence and unwillingness to be second to anyone, which can be seen as a nod to his determination to be a trailblazer in discussing racial equality.

The bridge and third verse confront racism more directly. Jackson is “tired of this devil,” and “tired of this stuff,” which can be interpreted as his frustration with ongoing racial injustice. He stands against the symbols of racism, stating he’s not afraid of “sheets,” a reference to the Ku Klux Klan, showcasing his bravery in the face of hate.

The rap by L.T.B. brings a more narrative approach, describing how racial tensions lead to “grief in human relations” and contribute to global conflict. However, the line “I’m not gonna spend my life being a color” echoes the core sentiment of the song, reinforcing the idea that our lives shouldn’t be defined by racial categories.

The outro encapsulates the song’s theme with its simplicity. “It’s black, it’s white” repeated over and over again could symbolize the repetitive and tiresome nature of racial arguments – ultimately concluding that it’s tough to accept, but race shouldn’t be a defining factor. Jackson’s playful “Shamone” and the energetic delivery invite us to join in this celebration of togetherness, to dance it out, literally and metaphorically.

Why Was “Black or White” Written?

“Black or White” was penned during a time when Michael Jackson was not only a megastar but also a figure constantly under the microscope due to his race and appearance. His state of mind during this period can be speculated to be one of frustration and a desire for change. Through his music, he found a universal language to express his ideals and perhaps a personal catharsis.

His personal experiences with racial discrimination and the global socio-political climate fueled his passion to make a stand. The song became a canvas for his activism, a plea for understanding, and a voice for many who couldn’t express these sentiments themselves. Michael Jackson, with “Black or White,” sought not just to entertain, but to inspire a movement towards a world devoid of racial prejudice.