Since the premiere of Leaving Neverland, the explosive HBO documentary in which two adult men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, allege that Michael Jackson molested them for years when they were children, there has been a steady stream of think pieces, many from the perspective of Jackson fans wrestling to reconcile the utterly damning and graphic accounts of abuse by their beloved icon. But as the little brown girl who got to evoke Jackson’s performance as the scarecrow in The Wiz for my childhood dance recital, and then later as both a fan and critic of Jackson, I was left with a harder question, one that yields an even less satisfying answer: What is there to reconcile?

Michael Jackson is the man in the mirror, the King of Pop, the sparkled glove wearing moonwalker, the dazzling, preternaturally skilled singer and performer. And he is also the man who slept in the same bed with underage boys for months on end, the man who evolved in the most predictable, uncomplicated way from being a victim of childhood abuse to being the perpetrator of childhood abuse. Jackson was robbed of a childhood and so he snatched it back because he could. He turned his resentment and pain into power, and invented the justification for it in the same way he invented his dance moves. His music is still brilliant. His talent still legendary. These truths co-exist with the active, real-time recovery of two men he allegedly abused, manipulated and devastated as children.

It’s not really the point, to my mind, whether or not fans can still listen to Jackson’s music — were it that simple. It’s more about turning the focus from Jackson to the people he hurt, the survivors and their health and well-being. Michael Jackson is dead, but Robson and Safechuck are alive and we owe it to them, and all the others, to find ways to help them heal. To give them all the platforms and attention and care they need for as long as it takes. Frankly, I don’t care about Jackson in the wake of Leaving Neverland. I don’t even feel angry at him, or betrayed in any way. I feel overwhelmed with compassion for these men, full of rage at their mothers, and stunned by how brutally gargantuan and gutless our culture of celebrity has become.

It’s not that I don’t have a history with Jackson. I loved him for years, but first began to pull away from Jackson in the ‘80s when my white peers started to act like they owned him. I went from loving the sweet, brown-skinned, afro-wearing Michael Jackson from "Off the Wall" and The Wiz (quietly, because I was in an all white middle school and openly liking anything black only complicated matters) to resenting the Michael Jackson who was clearly amid a full-on transformation to both appear like and appeal to white people. In high school, two (white) girl peers went to see him in concert during the Victory tour and cried every day for almost a week after they came back. I wanted nothing to do with their reaction, their hyperbolically emotive and performative obsession with him. I remember thinking, “You can have him.” It hurt a little, especially because his performance of "Billie Jean" for the Motown 25 show was so breathtaking and his skin was still brown and he was so undeniably masterful.

Later on, I felt really pissed off when Spike Lee chose to direct Jackson’s video for "They Don’t Care About Us," because by then, 2009, Jackson seemed like a wholly delusional, racially extinct human being, and I thought Spike was better and blacker than that. What I think today is mostly that while those two white girls from high school were crying for a week because they’d been in the same room with Michael Jackson, when Spike was directing that music video, when I was starry-eyed during Jackson’s Motown performance, James Safechuck and Wade Robson were trying to live their lives in the repercussive depths of trauma.

These two men were relearning how to be individuals after having been the exploited appendage of an outsized, otherworldly demigod. I imagine that they had to figure out what they liked, what their opinions were — did Robson have a favorite color independent of Thriller jacket red? Did Safechuck actually like junk food after eating it all day for years at Neverland? These are not little things, these are the things that collectively make us who we are as individuals. It is the process of individuation that these two men were not allowed to experience as boys, and so have had to willfully reignite as adults. Because that’s what trauma does, it stunts normal growth. And as I write this, I know, as Oprah said in her After Neverland special, “We all gon’ get it, we gon’ get it” for publicly supporting Robson and Safechuck, and not Jackson, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. I invite ride-or-die Michael Jackson fans to live with themselves.

Rebecca Carroll is a cultural critic and Editor of Special Projects at WNYC, where she develops, produces and hosts a broad array of multi-platform content, including podcasts, live events and on-air broadcasts. Rebecca is also a critic at large for the Los Angeles Times, and a regular columnist at Shondaland in addition to Gothamist. She is the author of several interview-based books about race and blackness in America, including the award-winning Sugar in the Raw, and her personal essays, cultural commentary and opinion pieces have been published widely. You can follow her on Twitter @rebel19.