When I heard of Prince's passing, I was in stunned, crushed, in shock. i loved the extraordinarily innovative and boundary shattering music he made which combined so many different traditions and genres and loved the way he played in his videos with conventional images of race and gender. Prince, with both humor and deadly seriousness, created a pan-sexual persona that touched a chord with perhaps the broadest spectrum of identities that any artist had ever done. I do not use the term genius that often. Prince was a genius
But he was also part of our family. My two children, Sara and Eric, grew up watching MTV with me every night in our living room after long days of school and sports practices and no artists touched our imaginations more than Prince. You see, my children, growing up in Park Slope in the 80's, attending public schools, playing basketball, baseball and tennis in school gyms and public parks., had one of the most multicultural childhoods anyone could imagine. Their friends and teammates were not only Black, White and Latino; many were mixed race;, more than a few had different races represented in the same family; and some had two gay parents.
it was hard to find the full spectrum of the people they interacted with daily in most spheres of popular culture- but you found them in Prince videos. Although some people who came on the screen were identifiably Black or White, large numbers were racially indeterminate- mixed race in some combination that no one needed to explain.And men and women displayed, almost randomly, traits which were associated with what was once regarded as the "opposite" gender; but which in Prince world seemed not to matter. And when you combined this with acrobatic dancing, humor and some of the funkiest beats every laid down, the combination was irresistible
There was no better soundtrack to the lives of my two wonderful children, Sara and Eric, great athletes both, whose friendships, dating patterns and romantic relationships, crossed every boundary that you could find in a Prince video.
It was as though Prince brought our family and neighborhood to life in a way that gave legitimacy, swagger and romance to the way my children lived
As anyone can tell you who has ever met Sara and Eric, I have two of the coolest children anyone could ever want. In a small but important way Prince helped shape who they are.
I will miss him terribly. But also owe him a huge debt of gratitude for giving legitimacy to the way my children lived and the boundaries they crossed in their friendships and relationships..
Peace, Love .R.I. P