Rose from dire poverty and violence to become the greatest black entertainer of all time – Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Angelina Jolie all rolled into one.
Cut Content: Being Human
If I could rewrite a single entry from the book, it would be this one — it is too harsh on her. The entry should cover much more of the difficulties she encountered: virulent, systemic racism; childhood sexual abuse; endless legions of people inclined to see her as disposable. She overcame unbelievable, incredible odds, providing an icon to people everywhere, and proving it was possible to beat the odds.
So why doesn’t it read like that? Because to research her entry, I read through a 600 page biography written by one of her children. Unflinching, exhaustive, and sympathetic, it interviewed virtually every single person living whose life Josephine had touched — and in many cases, she’d really done poorly by them. She was a complex person. After reading through 600 pages of her burning people time and time again, I found it really difficult to sympathize with her as much as the entry demanded.
I needed more distance to better write this entry. But it is what it is. I’m human, and I need to own that. I hope the entry won’t turn you off to Baker or this project. It’s always good to get a second look.
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Here Josephine is admiring herself in front of a mirror, with herself at various phases in her career:
- Early on, in her famous banana skirt;
- In a tuxedo;
- In a diamond-studded outfit at the height of her career;
- In her military outfit, which she wore to the Million Man March;
- As a mother at her castle;
- And finally, in foreground, in her sixties, in one of the outfits she wore in her comeback shows.
In the background of all the mirrors are the reflections of the inside of Carnegie Hall, where she staged one of her notable comeback shows.