What Prince Taught Me: The Importance of Ownership

Prince Post

Prince, our new genius ancestor, taught me the sheer importance of Being a Black woman creative who owned as much of my work as possible. He taught me by example that in order to own my work that I would have to fight, and that the stakes were high. Black women’s work is often undervalued and stolen.

I know this is true because our genius ancestor Ms. Zora Neal Hurston died in penniless in an unmarked grave.

As a teenager, who Loved hip hop I read The Source avidly. I will never forget an interview that they had with Prince’s then attorney, Londell McMillan, where he discussed the politics of Prince’s relationship with Warner Brothers, the inability of Prince to use his name and the impact that it had on his creative process.

It is from Prince that I learned that it was okay to be absolutely clear about the value of my creative work in a world that says that Black women’s labor is worthless. He was also a fierce champion of Black women artists. See WEAREKING. See Misty Copeland.

Here are Eriq Gardner and Ashley Cullins of The Hollywood Reporter on Prince:

The story of how Prince — full name Prince Rogers Nelson — changed his name to an unpronounceable “love symbol” in the 1990s during a contractual fight with Warner Bros. is legendary. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as the fourth-boldest career move in rock history. The story goes that the artist wanted to release more music and wanted to own his masters. The record company wouldn’t let him. When that happened, he began appearing in public with the word “slave” written across his face. The change of name even had Warners scrambling to send out font software so that reporters could incorporate the symbol into stories. Many of those writing about the musician just found it easier to speak about him as “the artist formerly known as Prince.”

To value yourself in a culture that says that you are invisible is the embodiment of being a Black girl from the Future. #blackgirlsarefromthefuture

To be able to dictate the terms under which your work will be consumed is a damn near miracle.

Prince taught me that I would have to be clear on the value of my work and continue to tell the people who desired the work the value of it over and over and over and over and over again.

Is it labor intensive? Exhausting and a fucking shit show. Yes. Everything has a cost. And my rational is that this is the cost of doing this kind of work for Black people in general Black women in particular.

Do you value your creative work?

How do you demonstrate that you value the creative work of someone else?

Who is your favorite Black creative and why?

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  1. says

    You made writing prompts! Those are dangerous, I love it!

    Do you value your creative work?

    Yes, but I’ve been failing to get others to value it financially. I’m really not sure the best way to go about doing this.

    How do you demonstrate that you value the creative work of someone else?

    There are so many ways to do this today. One of the ways (that I am now about to attack viciously) is purchasing that work. I don’t this is the right model moving forward. We live in a society (globally, mind you) where information can be transmitted to anyone at no cost. To the extent that creative work can be transmitted as information, that creative work will get the widest and best distribution at no cost. However, this puts its creator in a bind: How can they continue creating without getting money for their creative work?

    Well, they can’t today. This is why I support the creation of global electronic systems which guarantee every person alive about a thousand dollars a month, with no discrimination, not even age. Everyone has the potential to be creative, but sadly most everyone has that potential cruelly exterminated as they mature by “conventional wisdom” concerning what it is good to be or what they can or cannot realistically become.

    Who is your favorite Black creative and why?

    MLK and/or Kwame Nkrumah.

    Because they redefined creative in their own ways. By breaking from what it meant to occupy either of their roles in society, each of them created lasting impact for all humans.

    Plus, you only get killed by the FBI/CIA if you’re one of the good guys.

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