Monday, April 25, 2016

UPstander: How Does Prince Embody the Ideals of an UPstander? #AtoZChallenge Letter U

During April I'm participating in the A to Z blogging challenge.
Each day, sans Sunday, offers an opportunity to write about a
letter of the alphabet with the goal of writing 26 posts.
April is also National Poetry Month.

As have many the past few days, I've been revisiting the music of Prince. Of course, I love the popular songs such as "Raspberry Beret," "Little Red Corvette," "Purple Rain," and many others. I am not a musician, but as with many others, I found Prince mesmerizing. 

While watching MTV's "Epic Awesome Videos" Sunday, I heard a Prince song that resonates today's political climate and is perhaps more relevant than it was in 2004 when Prince Released it. "Dear Mr. Man" is an epistle to those in power. 

The song embodies the ideals of an UPSTANDER, one who stands up to be counted, particularly one who stands up and acts against injustice and intolerance. An UPstander isn't content with voicing an opinion in a safe environment. An UPstander embodies courage, the courage to act. 

Through music Prince poses tough questions about important issues from the hole in the ozone (climate change) to our government's blood thirst (war) to the working poor who can't make ends meet: "Who told me, Mr. Man, that working round the clock would buy me a big house in the 'hood?"

"Dear Mr. Man" Prince
What's wrong with the world today?
Things just got to get better
Sho' ain't what the leaders say
Maybe we should write a letter

Dear Mr. Man
We don't understand
Why poor people keep struggling
But you don't lend a helping hand

Matthew 5:5 say,
The meek shall inherit the earth
We wanna be down that way
But you been tripping since the day of you're birth

Who said that to kill is a sin
Then started every single war
That you're people been in?
Who said that water
Is a precious commodity
Then dropped a big old black oil slick
In the deep blue sea?

Who told me, Mr. Man
That working round the clock
Would buy me a big house in the 'hood
With cigarette ads on every block

Who told me Mr. Man
That I got a right to moan?
How 'bout this big ol' hole in the ozone?

What's wrong with the world today
Things just got to get better
Dear Mr. Man, we don't understand
Maybe we should write a letter

Listen, ain't no sense in voting
Same song with a different name
Might not be in the back of the bus
But it sho' feel just the same
Ain't nothin' fair about welfare
Ain't no assistance in AIDS
Ain't nothing affirmative about you're actions
Till the people get paid

You're thousand years are up
Now you got to share the land
Section one, the fourteenth Amendment says:
No state shall deprive any person
Of life, liberty, or property
Without due process of law

Mr. Man,
We want to end this letter with 3 words
"We tired you all!"
But Prince wasn't only an UPstander in his music. By all counts he generously gave to other artists songs that he could have recorded and turned into hit songs. Only now are we beginning to learn about the "quiet philanthropy" of Prince, who donated money to Treyvon Martin's family and funded a historic library in Louisville to prevent its closure. 

In a CNN story a couple of days ago, Van Jones spoke about Prince's humanitarianism. "Yes, We Code" providing technology education for under-served kids. He funded "Green for All" to give solar energy to Californians. Prince kept his generosity quiet, but he stood up in all the important ways. 

Many will continue speaking about Prince's music, his philanthropy, his legacy. To honor Prince, let's each do more. Let's embrace Prince by being UPstanders, and we should do this with the quiet grace of our Prince. 


  1. Wow. So brilliant, and gone much, much too soon. On Saturday, I was driving and the song "Manic Monday" came on in my random rotation. I had to listen to it and sing it as loudly as I could in appreciation.

    He'll be so missed.

    A Bit to Read

  2. Prince was not only a great artist but man as well.

    Blog: QueendSheena
    2016 A to Z Participant
    Joy Brigade Minion