Dirty Adolescence: Coming of Age in Detroit to the Music of Prince

As a twelve year-old, I was undoubtedly too young to be exposed to the explicit concepts in Prince’s music. But as an avid consumer of Sidney Sheldon novels and sometimes willing participant in inappropriate childhood games, I was exposed to many questionable constructs for sexuality. This paper explores the unique insights and perspectives I formed as an adolescent through absorbing the powerful blend of emotion, revolution, and sexuality embodied in Prince’s Dirty Mind. I contrast the deep bedrock of Black spirituality and the revolutionary irreverence that made Prince a staple in my native Detroit’s cultural and musical landscape. We will explore the unique role Detroit played in breaking Prince to a generation of precocious young people and his influence on everything from Detroit fashion to the birth of techno music.

Dereca Blackmon

Dereca Blackmon partnered with Dr. Adam Banks to develop and teach a course on the Contemporary Black Rhetorics of Prince in The Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University, where she served as an Assistant Vice Provost. For the Purple Reign conference in Manchester England she presented “Beyond Definition: The Black Liberation Theology of Prince” and for the Batdance symposium at Spelman College, she presented “Two Become One: Prince and the Integration of Self.” She is the CEO of Inclusion Design Group and a nationally respected speaker, facilitator and consultant with 25 years experience creating “uncommon conversations” about race, class, gender, sexuality and socioeconomic status. She saw her first Prince concert in 1986 after which she heard Prince’s first ever live radio interview with the Detroit legendary DJ Electrifying Mojo. In 2014, she organized the world’s first Prince Flash Mob in Oakland, California, which was attended by over 250 people and tweeted about and publicly referenced by Prince himself.