Slavery Should Be So Good
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
August 12, 2015
From a historic perspective, as an educator I am quite familiar with the annals of black slavery in the United States. The singer Prince Rogers Nelson, more famously known just as Prince, apparently missed that year’s history course as he compared signing a record contract to the vileness of forced servitude dominating the American south from 1619 through 1865.
“Record contracts are just like – I’m gonna say the word – slavery. I would tell any young artist… don’t sign,” said Prince during a media event at his Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis, according to NPR.
Born in 1958, and at age 57, Prince knows nothing about real slavery, yet his words, hyperbolic or not, have not been condemned by the so-called leaders of the black community. Were a white entertainer to have uttered such insulting verbiage he or she would be excoriated right out of the business; same for an athlete, educator, or politician. Yet for a black man of such popular acclaim as Prince there is an expected double standard.
Was Prince not one of the highest paid performers since the late 1970s? Worth $300 million, plus or minus, as of 2014, Prince released his first album, For You in 1978, with an additional 30 albums throughout an illustrious career that is still active. His accolades include seven Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe, and one Academy Award.
Does $300 million sound like “slave wages?” I use quotes around the words slave wages as slaves were not paid for their forced labor, and that is also what Denzel Washington called his pay in the excellent film Glory, where black soldiers were paid less than white soldiers.
Was Prince tortured? Was Prince raped? Was Prince deprived of basic human rights? Was Prince deprived of food and water? Was Prince taken against his will from his parents? Was Prince’s freedom of speech denied or restricted? I imagine Prince was denied none of the above.
Is Prince literate? I imagine so. Does or did Prince have access to legal counsel? I imagine so. If Prince was not provided with competent, sound advice, he should sue his attorney. In order to make a living in the music business Prince signed a contract with a record producer – a producer who took a chance that signing Prince would be a wise investment with a positive return. Producers gave Prince a damned good living and he no doubt had more creative control than the myriad artists who preceded him.
If Prince wishes to opine about his dreary life of “slavery,” let him walk a mile in the shoes of those in genuine slavery – in third world countries where children are enslaved making the crap we buy in schlock stores; let him walk a mile in the heels of those young girls and women cast off as sex slaves – whose bodies and minds are destroyed by drugs and degenerates peddling them in bars and on street corners to be used, discarded, and forgotten. No, no, Prince, you have lived the life of royalty and you owe an apology to those souls whose lives are not much worth living because of the genuine slavery into which they have been subjected. Open your wallet and kick in some of your millions to rescue, educate, and hire some of these genuinely unfortunate people who know real slavery.
Prince no doubt has earned more money from royalties, from play on more radio stations, and from more concert dates that those artistes who toiled, often in segregated obscurity. Prince owes an apology for such cavalier use of the word slavery for all his “slavery” has rewarded him.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.
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