Saturday, November 20, 2010

Making Changes

If you ask me how many times I will address the issue of how we use words to destroy and bully, I will answer you with this, “As many times as I think necessary to effect a positive change.”

While standing in a checkout line recently, I could not help but overhear a conversation between a mother and her daughter who were standing directly in front of me. They were perusing an abundant array of tabloid magazines, strategically placed to catch the eye of any avid reader of gossip and scandal. Upon picking up one magazine that addressed the alleged infidelities of a well known celebrity, and the recent plastic surgery of another, the mother turned to her daughter and said, “See? This is why I love reading stuff like this. It makes me feel better about my own life.” I was horrified by her remarks, and tempted to point out to her that by buying and reading these sorts of publications, she was in fact aiding and abetting the murder of a person’s character. This is not a new phenomenon by any means, but one that is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s society.

It is not the words themselves that do the damage, rather it is the way they are used, expressed and written that gives the ultimate punch. A certain tone or inflection within a person’s voice can turn an innocuous sentence into one with death deadly intent, whereas the written word appearing in italic’s, caps bold, or quotation marks, gives us a sense of the sarcasm, innuendos and allegations hidden within. Then there are those who don’t hide their intent at all, and launch angry diatribes and often vile attacks on people undeserving of their focus.

Words are spoken and they are written. Can words harm? Yes. Can they save? Absolutely. Can they heal? Without question. Are they weapons? Oh yes. Can they kill? Most definitely. And they have. Paragraph 9, Preface to the Words and Violence Curriculum written by Rev. Barbara Kaufmann, for Voices [Education Project]

Again and again, we have seen the results caused through the pursuit of gossip and scandal by tabloid media who use words as a means to destroy, not only a person’s character, career, marriage and relationships, but in some cases, their very lives. Princess Diana and Michael Jackson are classic examples in this current age, as are the recent suicides of several teenagers who were bullied and persecuted for being different. It is for these very reasons that Voices {Education Project] and the Words and Violence Curriculum, are so vitally important.

The release of the Words and Violence video, produced by Rev. Barbara Kaufmann, comes at a time when awareness is most needed. It is a beautiful visual presentation of the power that is yielded through the use of words, and how they can affect everyone’s lives, not just our celebrities and well known personalities. It gives one pause to ask this question, “Just how much have we ourselves, contributed to violence through words in our own personal, social and working relationships?” Do we dare to accept some of the blame? Do we dare to make a change before we lose any more of our shining stars?

©Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

KS107.5 Jumps on the Michael Jackson Bandwagon!

Again, we have yet another example of malicious and ugly humor directed toward Michael. I have to ask, when will enough be enough? If you haven’t already seen this short video then check it out now:

I mean really, is this meant to be funny? Far from it! I find this not only disrespectful, but also tasteless and offensive. The Michael Jackson bandwagon grows larger everyday as people and the media eagerly jump on board to continue their cruel attacks and gutter mentality. Actually it’s not really a bandwagon as such, but more of a wagon train!

I’m sure the makers of this video got a good laugh out it at Michael’s expense; perhaps they even thought they were clever in making it. I’m afraid none of the fans find this remotely funny, rather, we are feeling a mixture of outrage and sadness at the continual onslaught against Michael’s character and name.

Sometimes, fighting this battle to vindicate Michael’s name and character seems overwhelming at times. There appears to be a never-ending supply of willing participants ready to pounce upon the opportunity to discredit him. At the same time however, there is a never-ending supply of fans ready to counter these vile and humorless attempts at slander.

There is strength in numbers, so let’s use that to lodge our formal complaints and have this video taken down. Please write to  and put Michael Jackson Complaint in the subject line.

Remember dear friends, that it is not only what we say that is important, it is the way we say it that will prove to have the biggest impact. Be respectful, be firm, ask yourselves how Michael would respond, and stay calm. Do and say everything with love. In this way we are following the example Michael set for us, and through us the world will one day come to see the positive good and beautiful light that was, and always will be, Michael!

Peace and Love to You All!
© Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Hold My Hand"

When I listened to “Hold My Hand” this morning, I was once again awed by the purity and magic of Michael’s voice. It’s a voice I am intimately familiar with; it’s a voice I love dearly, and in that moment when the harmonies came together in perfect unison, I loved him more than I had at any other point in my life. The song is a beautiful testament to his genius and a lasting reminder of his incredible legacy.

Knowing that this was perhaps his last known song before he died, I was struck by the profoundness of the lyrics and wondered if Michael had any idea what they would come to mean to the fans, especially now. The release of ‘Hold My Hand” at a time when the fan community is so divided, so full of anger and dissention, is uncanny. Speaking for myself only, I strongly feel that the message in this song calls for unity and love.

This life don’t last forever (hold my hand)
So tell me what we’re waitin’ for (hold my hand)
Better off being together (hold my hand)
Than being miserable alone (hold my hand)
Cause I’ve been there before
And you’ve been there before
But together we can be alright.
Cause when it gets dark and when it gets cold
We can just hold each other till we see the sunlight
So if you just hold my hand
Baby I promise that I’ll do all I can
Things will get better if you just hold my hand
Nothing can come in between us if you just hold, hold my, hold my, hold my hand.
The nights are getting darker (hold my hand)
And there’s no peace inside (hold my hand)
So why make our lives harder (hold my hand)
By fighting love, tonight.
Cause I’ve been there before
And you’ve been there before
But together we can be alright.
Cause when it gets dark and when it gets cold
We can just hold each other till we see the sunlight
So if you just hold my hand
Baby I promise that I’ll do all I can
Things will get better if you just hold my hand
Nothing can come in between us if you just hold my hand

I also feel almost as if Michael is calling us to go back to that place seventeen months ago, when we come together as a global family through our grief, pain and love for him, vowing to remember always and to carry his legacy forward. That place where we reached out our hands to each other in friendship and support not anger and hate. That place where we promised to never let go of his hand; that place before the fighting, where we stood as one ready to face the world as a united front, with the promise that his message would be forever heard.

We won’t achieve anything through anger, and if we let it consume us then it will eat away at our hearts until there is nothing left except for a hard core of bitterness. At the center of everything Michael did, was love. “It’s all about love,” he said and without love there is nothing left to fight for.

So if you just hold my hand
Baby I promise that I’ll do all I can
Things will get better if you just hold my hand
Nothing can come in between us if you just hold my hand

Hold My Hand‘is an R&B duet/collaboration between Akon and Michael Jackson. It was recorded in 2007.

© Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mr. MacKenzie We Beg To Differ!

Remaining calm and rational is a lot harder that what one may think at times, especially when faced with the horrors of injustice. When I read Kelvin MacKenzie’s comments that had aired on ITV This Morning, November 9, 2010, I was filled with an equal amount of rage and disgust. I was also filled with immense sorrow. My immediate reaction was to lash out, and express to him in no uncertain terms exactly what I thought of him, but then I wondered if it had been his intention to illicit this sort of response. A mental picture formed in my mind of McKenzie rubbing his hands in glee over the furor he had caused, and I was not about to give him the satisfaction of knowing he had hit a raw nerve.

MacKenzie is best known for being the man to coin the term “Wacko Jacko” and is a perfect example of the unconscionable reporting that is prevalent within tabloid media today, but in this case, he has crossed a line that even his own peers cannot find acceptable.

Charles Thomson writes in his blog:

“MacKenzie’s comments were morally and ethically reprehensible. He demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the justice system and also for the ethics of his profession. Jackson was acquitted of any wrongdoing and nobody has any right to insinuate that he was anything other than innocent.

MacKenzie’s outburst was unacceptable. [T]o announce on television that three orphaned children are better off now their father is dead and proclaim that they should never have been born in the first place – that is beyond vile.”

Indeed, no one could agree more.

Surprisingly, there is actually a journalistic Code of Ethics in most countries that was designed as a guide to assist professional journalists in the truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity and fairness of their reporting, and to help with difficulties such as conflicts of interest and ethical dilemmas. The Preamble to the Society of Professional Journalists in America states:

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.I have highlighted the areas above to draw attention to a
singular lack of ethical and moral conduct on MacKenzie’s part.

Has MacKenzie ever read the court transcripts for Michael’s 2005 trial? No doubt he has, but it obviously did little to change his opinion. One could even go as far saying that he doesn’t care. The fact that Michael was found innocent by a jury of his peers apparently holds little sway to a man who has always been very vocal about his hatred of the King of Pop. The most we can hope for here is a retraction or formal apology by the former editor of The Sun, but that may be a long time coming. According to OFCOM (the official complaints authority for UK media) MacKenzie has not broken any of their rules and none of our complaints are being upheld.

Whether MacKenzie apologizes or not, the damage has been done, for he has not only caused grief to Michaels’ family and children, but he is malignly contributing to the on-going character assassination of a man who has now passed. In short, MacKenzie is nothing but a bully who uses words as weapons to destroy. It is because of him, and people like him, that organizations such as Voices Education Project have been created, but until we educate people in the destructive power of words, something needs to protect those who can no longer speak for themselves.

The defamation of someone’s character is hardly new, and lawsuits testify to the fact that it is not a particularly legal practice, unless of course the person you are defaming is no longer alive. I am not entirely sure why the absence of breath in someone’s body gives others carte blanche to damage the reputation, through slander and libel, of that said person. Surely in all conscience the law should encompass both the living and the dead? Apparently not, so either the law needs to be changed to protect those who can longer speak for themselves, or at the very least, develop a heart.

But changing the law can be a very difficult process and as proven in the past, not always successful, however, it’s not impossible. When I was approached by a group of supportive fans to help promote their Michael Jackson Legacy Defamation Law Petition, I thought to myself, “This is something I can really get behind.” Michael was a target of the media and public alike for nearly all his life. He was criticized, mocked, laughed at and debased at every opportunity, and it still continues now after his death. If signing a petition helps to change the law; helps to prevent any further false allegations, slander, innuendos and degradation of this man and his legacy, then my name is on it, especially after reading MacKenzie’s vitriolic comments.

“OK, well a rather different view to that is that the death of Michael Jackson may well have saved some children, possibly, who knows… from a lifetime of being mentally corrupted, shall we say.”

“He’s faced a number of charges, a number of allegations, and I in some ways feels that the children will have a better life for their father not being around, which is pretty unusual.”  

Mr., MacKenzie, Michael’s children and his family beg to differ. Mr. MacKenzie, Michael’s fans beg to differ. Mr. MacKenzie, the countless children, organizations and charities that he helped and donated too, beg to differ. You speak for no one else but yourself, Mr. MacKenzie!

© Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

The Voices behind the Michael Jackson Legacy Defamation Law Petition

A year ago several of us came together through an Amazon Michael Jackson community. It seemed that each of us had embarked on the same journey on June 25, 2009. In trying to understand what we were experiencing, we all found ourselves at the same thread on the Michael Jackson Community. We shared our sorrow, anger, confusion, frustration, tears, discoveries, and joys. As time went on we truly became a family and we were very comfortable with one another. We all consider one another to be sisters, and we are a very close group.

The emotional pain and sorrow began to evolve into something deeper. We wanted to find a way to make a difference. Many of us became involved in writing letters and posting comments where we saw a need. We placed an ad in the newspapers in Gary, (Indiana,)  and the surrounding area on Michael’s birthday to honor him and to let it be known that there are people who care about seeing his legacy go forward without the tinge suspicion.

Those efforts prompted some of us to want to become even more involved. After a Skype call where all who wanted to work on this project came together, MJ shared her idea to take some form of legal action to stop the spread of untrue and hateful information about Michael. Discussions over that idea lead to another conference call with Karen, Barb, MJ, and Vanessa. There the idea was formed to try to have a law passed in California that would make it illegal to defame a person who had passed on.

Michael Jackson was unfairly portrayed by a biased media throughout most of his life. Every aspect of his life was a source of amusement to the media, and they happily distorted facts and spread rumor and gossip in order to make a profit. It was a terrible way to treat Michael. No one in the history of our country has ever been so vilified in the media. Journalists, entertainers, public figures; it seems everyone felt very comfortable with treating Michael's life like it was a comic strip. That is heartbreaking to us because we see what a wonderful man he was. Not just for his legendary accomplishments in entertainment and the arts, but for the contributions he made to the world through his message of love. He lived a most remarkable life and managed to remain humble, loving, kind, generous, and respectful.

That is why we have come to this point where we say enough is enough. To have defamed him while he was living was an egregious misuse of the freedom of speech and the power of words. However, to continue to do so after he is no longer here is reprehensible. While the attacks on Michael Jackson have been the most aggressive ever seen in our country; the fact is that the media, in general, is out of control. They will go after anyone who may bring a profit. There is little, if any, thought to reporting only facts and reporting them without bias. This effort came about through a love and respect for Michael Jackson, but the purpose for the law does not extend only to him. We want this effort to be taken seriously; it is meant to protect anyone....famous celebrity, average citizen, or innocent child from being maligned unfairly.  In the current media culture, anyone is fair game.

After the call with Karen, MJ, Vanessa and Barb, it was decided that we would pursue having this law introduced, and we should start a petition. MJ researched how to start a petition, and she set up the link. Barb wrote the petition letter, and is writing letters to be sent to the legislators in California. Karen is meeting with an attorney in California at the end of October, 2010. She hopes to get advice on how to proceed with this project.

The purpose of the petition is to prove that there are people who want to see a higher level of integrity and accountability from our media. There are people in California who have already said they are willing to go door-to-door with the petition to get signatures. We hope to have this law introduced in California because that is where Michael lived. Karen plans to return from her California trip with a plan on how best to move forward. Karen personally contacts anyone she feels may be of assistance. MJ spends hours every day posting the petition link on websites all over the internet, and keeping us all informed and encouraged. Martha is assisting with getting the petition circulated. MJ and Martha contact, through Face book and other discussion groups, everyone they think would be interested in aiding with this endeavor. Vanessa searches for articles that continue to reflect a distorted image of Michael. All of our sisters on our forum support our efforts by posting encouraging comments; lifting us up with email messages, and of course, signing the petition. It is really a group project of love.

Barbara Owens, Group Journalist
September 28, 2010

The World We Live In

Written for the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait, 11/10/2010.

If I were to be asked to describe my life over the last sixteen or so months, I would have to say it’s been like stepping into another world. Here in this world there is a central core of light filled with magic, wonderment, discovery and love, but it is also surrounded by shadows. They hover around the edges enticing the stray wanderer to step into the darkness. Some willingly enter and set up permanent residence. A few have taken a peek out of curiosity and lingered awhile, while others  having once seen what lie in wait for them, run away as quickly as they can. Negativity, greed, envy, spite, self-serving egos and malicious untruths are a major part of this world, and there can be no escape from that part of human nature that lives and flourishes within the shadows. This was Michael’s world for most of his life; it has now become ours.

It has been said that taking a walk through the numerous fan communities, pre-existing and newly formed since Michael’s death, is akin to navigating a minefield. One wrong move and you could find yourself shattered into a million pieces. Having ventured into this realm I would have to agree, in part. I have been witness to the angry outbursts between fans, read the disparaging and often hateful comments left by others, had snide comments made to me by someone who believed I should be taking a more active role in seeking justice for Michael, by abusing my position with the MJTP, and used as a platform to launch a personal agenda through lies and subterfuge. This experience in particular left me wondering how Michael maintained the way he did for so long; how he still had the capacity to love when surrounded by so many lies, both from the media and people he trusted, and surrounded by those who used him as a means to an end.

I am sure I am not the only fan who has experienced these things. It appears that some believe their groups, forums, discussions and opinions are the only ones that count. That if you aren’t an activist you aren’t a real fan; that if you aren’t donating to a certain cause, writing hysterical and incoherent letters to the media, posting vitriolic comments to members of Michael’s family or to those that oppose you, then you can’t possibly be a true fan. I have to ask why these people think they are any truer when clearly acting in direct contrast to everything Michael was and believed in?

It saddens me that parts of our community are divided, when in reality if we want to vindicate Michael’s name and continue his legacy, we should be united. It saddens me that there are some who have infiltrated the fan community to use it as a means to their own end. That their only purpose in being here is to use Michael’s name to launch themselves into the spotlight, and to give the impression they are doing some good while collecting followers like trophies. They trick people into believing they care about the cause, but if you look closely at their dealings and connections, you will see that they are building monuments for themselves upon lies and deceit. This was Michael’s world for most of his life; it has now become ours.

As Michael sought refuge away from the eyes of the world, more and more fans are seeking their own respite from the savage attacks, bullying, and infighting. They are closing down Facebook pages and Twitter accounts; dissolving groups and cancelling membership to various websites. Disgusted and disheartened, verbally beaten and bruised, they are going to ground to lick their wounds. Some may never return, while others may never be able to trust again, but it is so important for us to reach out to them in the hope that they might. Through us we can bring them back by showing that there is positive good working within the fan communities. We can show them; we can build their trust again and open their eyes to all the beautiful rays of light everywhere, who are working so diligently to vindicate Michael’s name and continue his legacy.

Groups, causes, petitions, projects and individuals have achieved so much, and have done so with love and respect, without anger or hate, without greed or misrepresentation. Look at A Million Trees for Michael, Michael’s Angels, the Sunflower Project, the Martin Bashir Petition, the Michael Jackson Legacy Defamation Law Petition, Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name (The Gardner St. School Issue Campaign), just a few of the countless works that have been successful or are still in progress, and this doesn’t include the thousands of fans who are donating to charities, helping in their communities and reaching out their hands to others, all in Michael’s name.

I believe we are all connected through our love for Michael. I believe that each of us has a role and a purpose. I believe Michael has handed us each a piece to a giant puzzle. We are the pieces and we have to find where in the puzzle we fit so we can complete the whole picture. Some may find their role is to actively seek justice for Michael or to vindicate his name, others may find their roles more passive or creative, but all are equally important to completing the puzzle. No one is better than another, no one is more important than another. We are all equal here.

I think it’s also important to realize that everything we say and do as fans has an impact on Michael’s legacy. We already have a reputation with the media and the world at large, for being hysterical and crazy. If we want anyone to take us seriously and what we are trying to achieve, then we have to approach people in a calm, rational, respectful and intelligent manner. Calling people names, hurling accusations and making libelous statements, not only puts us on the same level as the media, but further diminishes Michael in their eyes.

I think this is why I love the MJTP so much because here people are embraced not attacked, here people are accepted not rejected, here a haven has been created not a war zone, and here people are united through love and share a common purpose without ulterior motives. If only this had been the world Michael had lived in. What a difference that would have made.

© Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.



My Hope

Before you knew me I was there
Waiting for you to become aware
Of the message I had to share with you
That spoke of love, and hope and all things true

I have walked by your side holding your hands
Watching you grow into loyal fans
Smiling as you danced to Billie Jean
More loving hearts I have never seen

Together we grew into a beautiful tree
Watered by love for the world to see
Its branches grew, giving comfort and shade
A haven of peace so joyfully made

And when the world tried to tear me down
Just when I thought there was no-one around
You held my hand and stood by my side
With love, honor and so much pride

When my spirits fell through other’s blame
Yours lifted me up above the pain
And all could see that I was not alone
Your love for me was clearly shown

Through all these years we have been together
Believing that it would last forever
Until one day I heard my name being called
And I could not deny the voice of our Lord

I was pulled towards his loving arms
With joy and sadness walking arm in arm
From this Earth it was hard to depart
For behind me I would leave your broken hearts

Your tears rain down upon this place
As my absence from life you try to face
Please know I’m not that far from you at all
Really all you need to do is call

I promised that we would never part
Believe those words with all your heart
I am with you now and in each new day
Look for my star to guide your way

You surround my heart on David’s canvas
Bringing me hope and so much gladness
That what I stood for will never die
Even if some still dare to try

So spread my message in all you do
And water our tree with love and truth
Find your strength through God’s loving grace
And make this world a better place
I Loved You First
© Valmai Owens, 2009. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

Above All

I watched you from afar through the years
A nameless face in a sea of tears
Crying for joy with each new song
Forever in my heart you came to belong

From boy to man I loved you more
I came to believe in what you stood for
I vowed to follow the example you set
Your hopes and dreams I tried to protect

The message you sent I tended with care
Even though you were not aware
That on a distant shore, and out of reach
Your inspiring words I tried to teach

I dreamed of the day that we might meet
My face and heart you would joyfully greet
A lasting friendship between us would grow
The seeds of trust I would carefully sow

I carried this dream and hoped to dare
But the distance between us grew each year
I saw you rise to become a King
Of pop and hearts and souls within

In vain I called your name out loud
But how could you hear from above the crowds
Or see the nameless face I wore
And feel how much I loved you more

My tears streamed down as I counted the cost
Of dreams and hope I felt I had lost
And in the end, all I had left
Was a broken heart as they laid you to rest

Then by chance I found my way
To a place where I could openly say
How much I missed not having you here
And the guilt I felt for not being there

I connected with others who felt the same
And through our dots we ignited a flame
Now it burns on David’s canvas
Bright with love’s golden harness

Now my broken heart can mend
Through the Portrait, you have become my friend
My face now has a name you can call
Now you know I love you above all

© Valmai Owens, 2009. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

Fans in the Mirror

Fans in the Mirror
The Official Book of the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait
by his fans, for his fans
Created and Edited by Valmai Owens
Co-Editor Linda Higgins

Written for the MJTP, 6/20/2010.

While there are millions of Michael Jackson fans around the world, many fans have expressed feeling isolated in their love for the King of Pop. Family and friends just don't understand the deep connection, nor how fans felt they had lost a family member - or a part of themselves - when he passed away so unexpectedly. Bringing fans together in a pure, safe, and loving community has been one of the most important missions of the largest and most respected tribute in the world, The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait.

From its creation twelve months ago, the Tribute Portrait website has evolved into a global family where fans have become part of Michael, and each other, developing friendships that will last a lifetime.

Fans in the Mirror is a book created from the experiences and feelings of some of these fans, who came together and "connected their dots" in this one of a kind tribute.

At times thought-provoking, at other moments emotionally moving, profoundly tender, stimulating and often intimate, these 222 letters, poems, tributes and artwork collected from fans around the world are a testimony of their love, respect and loyalty for musical genius and ambassador of peace, Michael Joseph Jackson. The pages record the unique and special bond that has always existed between Michael and his fans, but also is a testament to their strength and determination to carry on the legacy he left behind. The writing is sometimes filled with intense and mixed emotions as fans recount the influence Michael had on their lives while struggling with the grief that is still felt one year after his death. The artwork explicitly portrays a talent born from passionate devotion and a deep personal connection. Fans in the Mirror is a remarkable testimony that will touch and motivate readers forever.

“It is more than a book. It is a journey toward enlightenment, understanding,
forgiveness, spirituality and ultimate L.O.V.E., everything that Michael was and
still is.” Dot # 3914.

“Finally! A book which tells of the positive influence he had on so many lives!
Finally! A vehicle for telling the naysayers about the very effective Power for
Good named Michael Jackson!”  Dot # 9671.

“I learned a lot while going through the different pieces because I really had to
pay attention. I found myself in tears at times and also amazed at how much love is there for him.  And the drawings!! My heart aches at how beautiful he was.” Dot # 239372

The much anticipated Fans in the Mirror is now available for purchase as an E-book. Finally, we have the opportunity to read about the influence Michael had on so many lives. Please visit our Tribute Store at today, to receive your copy.

© Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

Fans in the Mirror promotional video created and produced by Valmai Owens for the MJTP.