Detroit, Prince and The Power of Blackness

Detroit honoring Prince off of I94

Detroit is the epitome of blackness. Detroit’s blackness transcends anything imaginable. As a native Detroiter (emphasis on native), I’ve watched the resilience of my city through various tragedies and upheavals. Many of those tragedies are generational. Prince’s death is tragic for us but it has united “The Motor City” in ways that no other black icon could. Unbeknownst to many, Detroit was a second home to him. Those aren’t my words. They are His. The mutual love affair and deep-rooted history between us began in the early 80’s. I will be 42 years old and I, vividly, remember listening to him before he became popular.

Detroit loved Prince 1999
1999 Album Cover- photo courtesy of Warner Brothers. This album was Prince’s 5th studio album and his first commercial success.

My mami is an avid fan and she passed her love for his “Royal Badness” down to me. I ADORE him…no pun intended. We, also, had another source for that bad ass Minneapolis sound- “Electrifying Mojo”. Pay attention, children. This is Detroit history. Electrifying Mojo was a staple and a pioneer for black radio in the D during the mid-seventies to the late 80’s. He played what the fuck he wanted and often gave the history of the music. Black history. Our history. He didn’t play music… HE WAS MUSIC. A walking wealth of black knowledge. Much like Prince. Under the MFA (Midnight Funk Association), a legion of unapologetic black folks were born. Old people, kids like my sister and I, teens and young adults listened faithfully. “The Purple One” was a staple in his repertoire. For over thirty years, we were a part of this revolution. We were punk. We were funk. We were BLACK and proud.

Detroit

1980 — Prince backstage at The Bottom Line, New York City — Image by © Deborah Feingold/Corbis

Prince enveloped himself in our city’s love. We had so much in common. We supported one another. We fought to be heard, to be valued, to own our very existence in a world that attempts to marginalize us daily. Detroit is controversial. A black city which boasts scars and pain. A city that has been the butt of jokes across the nation although if you can make it here- YOU CAN MAKE IT ANYWHERE. New York my ass. Prince was just as controversial. He was a conundrum. A gender-bending, gangsta, sexual, introvert, fluid, powerful, soulful, carefree conundrum.

That’s the power of  blackness. We make the rules up as we go along. The world can try to beat us down but we keep getting up. We claim our stakes. We take back what’s ours and we don’t apologize for it.

“When we feel like we’re nearing the end of our rope, we tie a knot, we keep hanging, we keep remembering… that ain’t nobody bad like us.”

Prince lived life on his own terms and in his honor, Detroiters will continue to empower ourselves. We will keep his legacy alive.

We love you, Prince. Even when this life is over for the legion- Detroit will always be your second home.

“I just can’t believe…

All the things people say, controversy
Am I black or white?
Am I straight or gay? Controversy

Do I believe in God?
Do I believe in me?
Controversy, controversy
Controversy

I can’t understand
Human curiosity, controversy
Was it good for you?
Was I what you wanted me to be?
Controversy

Do you get high?
Does your daddy cry?
Controversy, controversy
Controversy

Do I believe in God?
Do I believe in me?
Some people wanna die
So they can be free

I said life is just a game
We’re all just the same
Do you wanna play?
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Controversy, controversy
Controversy, controversy
Controversy, controversy

Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those
Who trespass against us

Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom and the power
And the glory forever and ever

Controversy, controversy
Controversy, controversy
Love Him, love Him baby

Controversy, controversy
Controversy, controversy
Controversy, controversy

Listen, people call me rude
I wish we all were nude
I wish there was no black and white
I wish there were no rules

People call me rude
I wish we were all nude
I wish there was no black and white
I wish there were no rules

People call me rude
(People call me rude)
I wish we were all nude
(I wish we were all nude)

I wish there was no black and white
(I wish there was no black and white)
I wish there were no rules
(I wish there were no rules)

People call me rude
(People call me rude)
I wish we were all nude
(I wish we were all nude)

I wish there was no black and white
(I wish there was no black and white)
I wish there were no rules
(I wish there were no rules)

Controversy, controversy

Do I believe in God?
Do I believe in me?
Let me tell ya
Some people wanna die
So they can be free

I said life is just a game
We’re all just the same
Don’t ya wanna play?

Controversy, controversy
Controversy, controversy”

*fade out*
K.

 

 

K. Araújo, a native Detroiter, is a cross between Claire Huxtable, Rosie Pérez and Millie Jackson. Widow, professional dragger of filth and Mami to the dopest Ethiopian EVER, she is the Editor in Chief of "Negra With Tumbao" and a Staff Writer for "The Urban Twist". Keka has been known to shake what her mama gave her, is the hell and high water, an expert salsera and cussologist with a penchant for the finer things in life and is and forever shall be- unapologetically black.
  • Pingback: An Open Letter To Madonna and The Billboard Awards -()

  • Shanna

    I’ve often read about the D showing Prince much love when he first started out. Black folks recognize greatness out the gate. Michael was OURS pre nose job and waaayyyy before Thriller. Just as Prince was OURS waaayyy before he ever uttered the word “Purple”.

    I’m really glad I found your blog via VSB. Thanks!

    • Thank you so much for sharing my space!!

      Maaaaan, these babies don’t know… He was always OURS!

  • Nola Q. Darling

    I just discovered you and I knew I liked you. Native Detroiter here as well. And I am subscribing!