7 Ways Prince Celebrates Black History, Culture, and Political Ideology in The Rainbow Children

From its cover art to its lyrics and musical composition, The Rainbow Children is a celebration of Black history, cultural traditions, and political thought that takes listeners through Prince’s journeys and experiences as a Black man in America. In this discussion, I will point to seven specific examples where Prince weaved the telling of Black American history, Black artistic expression, and the theoretical studies of Black thought and philosophy he was undertaking at the time with his life experiences as a Black man who grew up during the civil rights era, the Black power 1970s, his prosperity in the ’80s and his enlightenment in the ’90s and millennium. This journey will look at some of the often overlooked and misunderstood interpretations of this album and offer a way to reconsider how to listen to it based on stories I have learned from Prince’s friends and associates that explain some of the cultural nuances, as well as a historical perspective that will foster a better understanding of the ways in which blackness influenced the making of this album.

Aisha K. Staggers

Aisha K. Staggers, M.F.A., is a writer and literary agent. She appears weekly as a political analyst and culture critic with Jill Jones and Dr. Vibe on the award-winning, internationally syndicated Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, Medium, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, AfroPunk, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, The New York Review of Books, and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. She agented the book, There Was A Time: James Brown The Chitlin’ Circuit And Me (Post Hill Press, 2020), by Alan Leeds with a foreword by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She is currently the Managing Editor for Sister 2 Sister magazine and News Onyx.