Words can not express the devastation I felt when I received that breaking news text that my idol Prince had been found dead in his Minneapolis home. I have been a Prince fan since I was 9 years old and I absolutely loved his music. It wasn’t until I watched Purple Rain that I had an Oprah Winfrey “AHAH” moment.  The movie Purple rain was not allowed in my home as my guardians thought some parts of the movie were to sexual for an 11-year-old so I snuck down the street to my childhood friend Tashia’s house and her mother allowed us to watch the movie.
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Don’t laugh you guys I was trying to figure life out and my hair was part of the process. LOL

The Purple Rain movie and album, YES that is what we called them at the time, transformed my tween years. The movie was like watching beautiful magic and it was the first time I swooned and felt butterflies in my stomach for the opposite sex. I watched this super confident man strut on the screen in his high heels and super cool clothes but what struck me the most was his confidence. As a child who secretly studied the arts I could not believe this was the very first time he acted on the big screen. I stumbled out of my girlfriends house not only a super out of control Prince fan but awakened to life.  After that I kept a close eye on my new crush. I watched his every move which was quite difficult as he was such a private person. Social media was not a thing and there for it was hard to get all up in folks business. When I really think about it there was no internet period.
Regardless below are few life lessons that an 11-year-old who was trying hard to come to terms with what life really meant after watching my mother die at 7 and being a victim of sexual abuse since the age of 5. I wanted to disappear as a child until I watched Purple Rain. People who really know me are always shocked that I have come so far after experiencing such tragedy as a child.
None the less below are the 4 life lessons Prince taught me:
It’s Okay To Be Different: As I watched Prince he seemed to effortlessly embrace who he was. The way he dressed, did his hair, his music Prince was unapologetic as to who he was and who he evolved into over the years. Prince made society come into his world he would NOT conform to their standards. My 11-year-old mind understood that his outward appearance was his way of shinning from the inside out and you know what it was not only okay it was damn cool! To top it all off he had full lips so I could finally stop hiding mine.
Use Your Pain To Fuel You: Purple Rain was so full of Prince’s inner pain that there was no way you could not feel it. The fact that this new actor could make this 11-year-old feel his pain was beyond my comprehension. What was brilliant was that I walked away from the movie knowing that I could take my pain and fuel it into something great! So lo and behold I did every creative thing I could get my hands on through school. I played the trumpet, I acted, I danced, I sung on the choir and was such a terrific art student that I was separated from the rest of the class and was given my own art projects. I used my pain to fuel my fire and I still tap into that super power today. Yes, Prince had super powers and he shared his secret sauce with me through the screen as I watched Purple Rain.
Do It Your Way: We all watched Prince battle the music industry for 20 years over his name, his music catalog and his over all creativity.  After I watched Purple Rain I knew he made the movie he wanted to make. I also made the decision in that moment that once I got to the age where I could rid myself of the crazy adults in my life that I was going to live my life my way. No exceptions. There was no way that I was going to endure such turmoil and not find a way to rid myself of it on my terms.
And last but absolutely not least!
How to throw SHADE:
http://hifihighfive.tumblr.com/post/13429966438

 

We all must admit that Prince threw the MOST spectacular shade ever! And he was equal opportunity. If he threw shade someone’s way you knew what ever caused it was not gossip it was fact. This little 11-year-old geared up for a lifetime of side eyes and lip curling with snazzy comebacks that were dished out when folks crossed my imaginary line in the sand. After about a year or so I was brilliant at it and used it as a defense mechanism. Trust me NO ONE wanted any part of my Prince inspired shade.
Flash forward 33 years later and these life lessons still fuel me today. In 2014 my husband and I were unknowingly nominated and chosen to be BMe Community Power couple of the year for our work in STEM for the past 18 years. The Prize was an all expensed paid trip to Essence Festival and concert where the headliner was PRINCE! I was in absolute heaven that weekend but what was even more awesome was learning that Prince was behind the scenes as Van Jones silent partner making sure that students were exposed to STEM through Hackathons put on around the country through #YesWeCode.
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Ben Evans, Managing Director, BMe ; Trabian Shorts Founder & CEO, BMe and my husband founder of the Urban Youth Racing School, Anthony Martin Essence Fest, New Orleans 2014. L-R

 

I was honored to judge one of these Hackathons when It came to Philadelphia put on by #YesWeCode, My Brothers Keepers and Kalimah Priforce’s Qeyno Labs. It felt like life had truly come full circle.

 

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MBKHack – My Brother’s Keeper Hackathon – @Qeyno #YesWeCode Photo: Qeyno Labs