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My Purple Reign

Authors note: This article originally published by GenXWatch


No other era was influenced by Prince more than the 80s. Nine gold, platinum, or multiplatinum albums that included 1999

(1982), Purple Rain (1984), and Sign o' the Times (1987). He masterminded albums by the Time, and Sheila E. and wrote hitsongs for The Bangles, Madonna, Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, and more, shaping the sound of popular music and culture with his often controversial lyrics, outrageous fashion, and uncanny

ability to remain undefinable as anything other than Prince.


I discovered His Royal Badness in high school when the 1984 movie, Purple Rain, was released during summer break. In it, a

soft-spoken black man in frilly shirts, tight pants, and wearing the best smokey eye makeup I'd ever seen on another human

serenades the hottest woman in the club onto the back of his motorcycle. I was at peak teenage hormones at the time and

instantly became one of the millions of women who would have shanked their best friend (sorry not sorry, I know you'd've done

the same) for a moment of his attention. Prince did what he wanted, sang what he wanted, knew who he was, and had exactly zero fucks to give anyone who didn't like it.


Like Prince, my parents divorced when I was young and I lived in a black and white world. My grandfather was a veteran of three

wars: WWII (where he met and married my grandmother in Germany), Korea, and Vietnam. He was also a black man married

to a white woman in 1950s America. It wasn't until 1967 (two years before I was born) that his marriage would be legally recognized nationwide.


My mother and her siblings ranged in melanin from my godmother, Sonni, with her bleached-blonde hair, fast cars, and wild spirit, to my uncontested favorite, Tina, who was unmistakeably African American and unafraid of confronting anyone who had something to say about that. She once sweet- talked my way into a local bar where she casually joked with a

bald man about whether or not he was a skinhead.



I think my 19 year old mother fell in love with me and my white blonde hair and green eyes the moment she laid eyes upon me,

believing I wouldn't have to endure the same prejudice and hardships she had over the years. She was wrong, of course, but

it was my gender, rather than the color of my skin, that affected me the most.



Despite my appearance, however, I've always felt more comfortable in black spaces than white. I watched Soul Train instead of American Bandstand. My music tastes reflect that basis in Black culture and Prince was at the absolute center of my teenage fantasies. His Purple world was pure sexual freedom for me. Darling Nikki, Erotic City, Cream, Little Red

Corvette, Raspberry Beret, every siren song more hypnotic than the last. His songs spoke to me of how powerful and sexy women can be when they claim their sovereignty, and I adopted "Baby, I'm a Star!" as my theme song while finishing up high school with an AFJROTC engineering scholarship and a private pilot's license in a time when a little over 5% of pilots were women.


Prince's music allowed me to see the value of embracing my feminity and uniqueness while every little girl in America was being pressured to look and act like Brooke Shields in order to

navagate life. It led me to Sheila E.'s Romance 1600, which I played endlessly on my tape deck, along with Tina Turner's Private Dancer. It would only be a matter of time that I would be enthusiatically shakin' dat ass to Rhianna's "Rude Boy," Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha" and Cardi B.' s "WAP."


When he passed April 21, 2016, the world mourned his loss with dance parties in the purple glow that arose everywhere from the

White House to The Melbourne Arts Centre in Austrailia. But if there's one thing I learned from Prince Rogers Nelson, it's "life is like a party and parties aren't meant to last."


But that doesn't mean we can't start a new one. A party where everyone is invited to the dance floor and we circle up under the

pulsing lights and take turns strutting our stuff to the beat. A party where every woman is free to wear what they want, do what they want, and be who they are with zero fucks given. I'm

calling it Tawnlandia, and I know Prince would approve. "So if you didn't come to party, don't bother knocking on my door. I got a lion in my pocket and baby (S)he's ready to roar!"

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