My 6-year-old is apparently the biggest Michael Jackson fan ever. Since last week. 

OPINION: At this point, the only thing my child is missing from his Michael Jackson standom is a red leather jacket, which I’m looking for online. 

Michael Jackson performs on stage during is "HIStory" world tour concert at Ericsson Stadium November 10, 1996 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I don’t exactly know how it happened — the story seems to vary — but my 6-year-old discovered Michael Jackson about a week ago and now he’s entirely obsessed. He has us watching videos at all times. He sings “Thriller” all day long — using incorrect words. We have watched animated Michael Jackson featurettes, some Jackson 5-related videos, entire dance routines uploaded to YouTube via “Just Dance” and even a video that describes Michael Jackson’s last days through some news source. My son found that one all on his own. I had no idea until the end of the video. 

This kid is kind of all-in on Michael Jackson. He’s doing dance moves and trying to teach my 2-year-old how to do them. We went to the playground over the weekend and while playing tag with a bunch of kids he didn’t know, he would chase them down while singing either “Smooth Criminal” or “Thriller.” He asks me questions, frequently, both about how Michael Jackson lived and died. In similar fashion to Fat or Skinny Luther, he has taken to having opinions on “dark-skinned Mike” versus “light-skinned Mike.” It’s quite hilarious and definitely amusing. 

What’s also mostly amusing is how Michael Jackson pushed Martin Luther King Jr. right out of his concern. Right around MLK’s birthday in January, my son learned all about Martin Luther King Jr. at school. That day, he came home intently focused on the life and death of MLK. He started watching videos non-stop — including his speeches; remember, this kid is 6 — and in one sweeping moment of emotion, he had a complete and utter breakdown, including tears, because he was upset that “they killed Martin!” That breakdown happened completely out of nowhere, but his little heart just couldn’t understand how anybody could kill King since all he was doing was trying to make us love each other. Of course, he’ll learn how much deeper that story is as he gets older, but for a few weeks there, MLK was his guy; he even dressed like him for their Black History Month Spirit Week in the first week of February. 

Coincidentally, the day he dressed up like MLK was the day he came home talking about Michael Jackson and tried to commandeer my car’s Bluetooth and force all of us to listen to “Smooth Criminal.” Somebody must have mentioned “Thriller” to him and he looked him up on YouTube and the rest is rock-and-roll history. The boy has decided that Michael Jackson is his dude. He runs around the house moonwalking and doing the pelvic thrust thing. He took that pelvic thrust to the playground, and I had to tell him to keep that calm, fam. Soccer moms might miss the cultural context so I don’t need that smoke over Michael Jackson, yet. 

I wonder if I was like this. When I was 6, “Thriller” (the album) was already out in the world and the biggest thing since sliced bread. I remember the album being in the house, and I remember listening to it. Like, I suppose, everybody, I also knew the words to all the songs and had seen the “Thriller” video and tried my best to do the dance moves. So maybe. Maybe Michael Jackson is that much of a spectacle that being aware of him, even at that young age, lets you know you’re seeing something special. The fact that a child born in 2016 is carrying on like kids born in the 1970s and 1980s about Michael Jackson is quite telling. And this has all happened in a week. He wants a Michael Jackson-themed birthday, though I’m not quite sure what that means. Yet. 

In a cool way, it’s fun to see your kids enjoy something that you enjoyed so much. Like most households in America, I definitely grew up on the Jackson 5’s catalog and definitely had all of Michael Jackson’s albums. I remember getting his “Dangerous” CD for Christmas in 1992. I still remember the marketing campaigns for the “Jam” video with Michael Jordan. To think that, for this kid, Michael Jackson is as big of a deal in 2023 as he was back in his actual heyday, well that makes me feel like I’m doing alright as a parent. At the very least, I’m getting a kick out of it all. 

I wonder what next week might bring or if Mike is here to stay.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.