Purple Reigns: A BlackLivesMatter Tribute to Prince

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Prince Rogers Nelson by Alicia Garza
Prince Rogers Nelson. He belonged to all of us and yet he belonged to no one. He was a part of a mythical universe of which we had only seen small glimpses–because he was gracious enough to show them to us. He was from a world where you could be anything and anyone you wanted to be–as long as it was true to you. He was from a world where pleasure and desire and gratitude and unity were the pre-requisites for participating. He was from a world where peace and fairness and justice was the foundation for all life. He was from a world where Black was not only beautiful, but it was nuanced and complex and shifting and unapologetic and wise. He was from a world that many of us only dream about, and some of us strive to achieve. And though he was otherworldly, he was not without contradictions. That is why we loved him–because although he could show us the world that we are striving for, he was also human. He had longings. Desires. Pain and trauma. He made mistakes. Prince showed us that you don’t have to be perfect to be human. That our contradictions, in fact, are what makes us human. The key was self-awareness, and an unabashed leaning in to the contours of who were are as deeply flawed and deeply complicated human beings. He was a reflection of us. He was braver than us, but he showed us that there was glory in bravery, in courage, in purpose. His questions to us were simple and yet profound: What will it take for us to live free? He knew it would take a revolution, and through his life, he tried to show us what revolution could look like, feel like, taste like and ultimately just be like. Early on in the evolution of Black Lives Matter and this new upsurge of Black freedom dreams, he quietly and yet deliberately made sure that we had what we needed to be successful. I remember asking what we could do to acknowledge him, what could we do to show our gratitude and the response was to keep going. To keep building. To keep moving towards freedom. He didn’t need fanfare. He had millions of fans around the world. But he knew that what he didn’t have, what we didn’t have, was freedom. Like all of us trying to live free in this world that is powered by injustice and domination, he too was not completely and fully free. That too is a contradiction of what it means to see something, to be something that is not yet here. And yet there is a painful beauty inside of that. An agony that should push all of us to rid the world of the suffering that binds even the most visionary among us from truly realizing what is possible. And so in his moving on from this painful world, we remember that beauty is in the struggle to reclaim our dignity and humanity. We remember that for dignity to exist we cannot and must not throw anyone away. Prince Rogers Nelson. You have your life so that we could have the freedom to be. And the only way for us to repay that debt to you is to repay it to ourselves. We have nothing to lose but our chains. We love you dearly. Rest well, sweet angel.
Thank You, Teacher
THANK YOU, TEACHER THERE USED 2 BE A TIME WHEN MUSIC WAS A SPIRITUAL HEALING 4 THE BODY, SOUL, & MIND… – LINER NOTES FROM ART OFFICIAL AGE Grief is a funny thing. The last two days I have learned a lot about its surprising, weird, loving, and uncontrollable nature. Prince’s death has let me grieve parts of my experience I didn’t even know I still needed to grieve. The tears come surprisingly – standing in front of the sink washing dishes and hearing a song that spoke to my being in a different way – watching a news report and seeing the death dash completed – dancing full out in my apartment hallway to “Lovesexy” and needing to dance my way to the box of tissues because I discover that tears are running down my face – and they are all welcome. It feels like a small price, and maybe even a reward that I don’t deserve. Heck, he did all the work. I get the gift of feeling my humanness deeper. I cry, I think, because I didn’t get to say thank you. I never met him. I didn’t have to. That’s exactly what art is about. That’s what liberation is about. We are supposed to express what is in us because we have no other choice but to do so. The problem is most of us think we do have another choice. We choose “safety” and “comfort” – not realizing that we’ve chosen the harder, less colorful, dreary path. In liberation, others are supposed to observe our living and feel the breeze of the opening of a window or a door letting us know that there is more life to be lived, to be faced, to be embraced. He did that SO beautifully, with such grace, with such humor, with such panache, such boldness, such sexiness and with such love. He did it so well – he LIVED liberation so well – that it felt like he was here with me trying to instruct and open doors for my own liberation. My own fears, internalized hate, limiting voices…he seemed like he had none of it, so it gave me the opportunity to see that I could live outside of all that. I didn’t know how, but he had figured out how to – he lived it so clearly – it must be possible for me, too. I feel like my Teacher died. As if with his death, my Teacher had pushed me out of the nest, out of the classroom – telling me that he had no more activities to offer. But it feels like he left in the middle of a lesson. I wasn’t finished learning from his example, his words, his clarity – his example was so beautiful and powerful – maybe he knew that I had gotten lazy and comfortable and that I would have sat hanging on his every word for the rest of my life and never actually walked out of the classroom myself. There he is teaching me even in death. His physical being will now forever be absent but the kindness of genius is that it always leaves something beautiful behind. And I know his teaching presence will always be near. Prince, thanks to you, there is still a time when music is a spiritual healing for the body, soul, and mind. And that time is now. As I listen to your catalog in its completion, it’s like re-reading a book and finding a new meaning in its pages – seeing the ways that I have shifted that allow your
RIP Prince Roger Nelson. Shine like the fierce star you are, baby. Your talent will be SO SO SO missed. You set a standard for what RnB Pop could be. You could jam the fuck out and bring everyone with you on that jam. You seduced everyone with your amazing vocal range and sexy, dirty lyrics. No one in your generation can even touch what you accomplished in terms of style, substance, and music. You taught me so much about sex, seduction, and laughing at how ridiculous it was. You taught me about music, the beat, the harmonies, cadence and meter in writing songs/poetry, how to dance, spin and twirl my swagger, and let’s not forget a well placed row of buttons on an asymmetrical cowl neck or on the outside seam of a pair of pants. You were a drop dead sexy motherfucka and you knew it. I loved your last album, it showcased precisely why you were THE Prince of RnB Funk, that you were the ringmaster of the funky jam. I am in tears right now as I type this, crying for the loss of yet another one of my teeny bopper idols who happened to be a musical genius. You’ve been a part of my life since I was 9 and you brought so many beautiful moments and memories into my life, including friendships with other fans. The last time I saw you in concert, you made us respond to your call, I love you. And then you responded back with the sweetest I love you. It was a genuine I love you because the entire audience felt the love coming from that stage and your performance. Maybe we’ll see each other again under a cherry moon, sweet Prince. Til then, I’ll see your bright star shining down on us every night, Beautiful One. #RIPyoucrazydiamond