In the wake of the death legendary musician Prince, no doubt many details of the his often enigmatic lifestyle and persona will emerge. Many Prince fans will be surprised to know that the great singer-songwriter was heavily involved in charities and organizations that promoted STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as well as green technology.
As a Jehovah's Witness, Prince was apparently forbidden by his religion from speaking openly about his philanthropic work, but Van Jones, a political commentator and also lawyer and personal friend to Prince revealed the extent of Prince's charitable work in STEM in a series of interviews. Jones added that Prince would often perform concerts in Oakland and other cities as a cover so that he could directly check in on some of the organizations and groups he supported.
In a rarely seen keynote address given at the 2014 Essence Music Festival, Jones talked about the launch of #YesWeCode an Oakland, Calif.-based initiative funded with the mission to "connect lower-opportunity young adults to high-paying careers in technology" by training them to become coders.
Jones said the idea for #YesWeCode came in the wake of the controversial Trayvon Martin verdict. "After the Trayvon Martin verdict I was talking to Prince and he said, 'You know, every time people see a young black man wearing a hoodie, they think, he's a thug. But if they see a young white guy wearing a hoodie they think, oh that might be Mark Zuckerberg ...'" Jones said.
While Jones pointed the finger at racism, Prince's response was that more needed to be done to prepare youth of color for the technology sector. "... it's because we have not produced enough black Mark Zuckerbergs," Prince told Jones. "That's on us. To deal with what we're not doing to get our young people prepared to be a part of this new information economy."
In an interview with Dr. Drew on HLN, Jones also spoke of Prince's involvement in another Oakland-based organization, Green For All, whose mission is to "build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty."
"Our goal is to make sure people of color have a place and a voice in the climate movement. That our neighborhoods are strong, resilient, and healthy. That as the clean energy economy grows, it brings jobs and opportunity to our communities," a statement on Green For All's website reads. The organization is currently involved in initiatives to make African American churches more green as well as advocating heavily on behalf of victims of the Flint, Mich. water crisis.
"You've got people with solar panels on their house right now that don't know Prince paid for them." Jones told Dr. Drew in an emotional interview. "... I was the face of those programs but it was his heart, it was his money ... Prince gets a phone call returned faster than President Obama."
Prince (real name Price Rogers Nelson) died unexpectedly on April 21 due to as-yet-undisclosed causes. Since his passing the website for #YesWeCode has posted a thank-you message to the late performer: "#YesWeCode would like to honor Prince and thank him for his inspired vision for #YesWeCode. Prince's commitment to ensuring young people of color have a voice in the tech sector continues to impact the lives of future visionaries creating the tech of tomorrow."
Now you're completely "scraping the bottom of the barrel". There is not ONE SHRED of evidence presented that Prince himself EVER said anything publicly in advocacy of STEM, only that "his friend" Van Jones the extremist left-wing political advocate spoke about it (the very same guy who for a short time was Obama's green jobs "czar" and who earlier was involved in Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement and was an advocate for releasing convicted killer Mumia Abu-Jamal), and the "convenient excuse" that Prince's religion "apparently prohibited him discussing it" is of course total nonsense! In fact STEM itself is nothing more than a convenient excuse to advocate for more federal money for science training in grade and high school, which is pretty pointless given that there is NO engineer shortage, since there are hundreds of thousands of unemployed engineers right here in the US ready and willing to go to work at the drop of a hat, since practically ALL new engineering openings are filled with cheap foreign labor brought in here mostly by Indian contracting forms through exploitative tech visas (see the best-selling book "Sold Out" for details).
If you can't get the facts straight and can't restrain yourself from hardcore political advocacy, then for the sake of the rest of us will you please surrender your position to someone who WILL, or are all you idiots at UBM just hardcore leftists who sit around all day plotting your next con job??? It's just disgusting!!
True that whenever someone well-known passes all of a sudden "friends" appear to shower the deceased and themselves in glory. But that doesn't mean that such statements don't have truth to them. Admittedly, I'm not a Prince fan. Beyond knowing a few lyrics, there's no personal tie to his music for me. Still I've found myself inspired by the outpouring of goodwill since news of his death broke last week. Anytime people gather in a calm and collective fashion to celebrate someone's creativity is fine by me.
It's not farfetched that a man who inspired so many people with music would help others inspire through STEM activities. There's always been strong cross over between music and engineering. Les Paul, for example, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his work on 1 of the 1st solid-body electric guitars.
Very true that there are many employable engineers. Also true that there have been noted upticks in the number of engineering grads, somewhat to the credit of STEM encouragement. STEM isn't always about building the next generation workforce, though. It can be and often is simply about encouraging thinking and creating and doing and getting your hands dirty, opposed to consuming and observing and taking a back seat.
There's no argument. Prince was a creative force. If in a way that creativity benefited STEM, coding and engineering, or even if his death serves to spread some glory to engineering, it's a win and a win that I'll take given how little celebration and respect engineers get in this world.
I think Suzanne has got it right here. I'm not a big fan of Prince, and I'm the complete opposite of a fan of Van Jones, but that's not very relevant here. If Prince was doing these things out of his own pocket and shunning personal glory for it, well, there's very little higher good that a person can do. Further in the exchange recounted here:
While Jones pointed the finger at racism, Prince's response was that more needed to be done to prepare youth of color for the technology sector. "... it's because we have not produced enough black Mark Zuckerbergs," Prince told Jones. "That's on us."
Jones is crying "racism" and Prince is saying "personal responsibility". I can't find fault with that. Assuming this story is true, it notches up my opinion of Prince.
Lately, it seems that we have lost far too many folks that I'd long held in high esteem... somewhat surprisingly, none more so than Prince. Many thanks to Chris for writing, so well, this entirely appropriate piece for Design News - about an aspect of Prince's life which I had not been previously aware.
Waaaay back when "Purple Rain" was first released, I'd wanted to see it in the theater but found that it was playing nearby, only in a historic theater smack in the middle of downtown Newark NJ - but my wife and I went, and were thoroughly entertained amongst a large crowd where I swear, we were the only two white folks in attendance. Though it was "just a movie" - that remains one of the highpoints in my life as a bona-fide cinema junkie...
Prince was entirely unique, in more ways than we'll likely ever know. I would encourage Mr. Lawton to spend three minutes watching the video at the end of Chris' article, and to then remain unmoved. I cannot recall ever seeing a more raw, sincere tribute captured on video.
Prince was a true legend, and not for no reason... he will continue to be missed for what he had yet to accomplish - condolences to Mr. Van Jones, and to the rest of us, for our collective loss...
So Prince said we have not produced enough black Mark Z's? If any of you had studied the tech visa situation (and the tens of millions in bribes that Mark has paid to politicians to prevent EVEN ENGINEERS TOTALLY OUTSIDE HIS INDUSTRY from having a stable and predictable job market) you would instantly join those of us who DID study the situation in agreeing that we ought to ALL be ashamed that we have even ONE of them of any race (and it turns out we have quite a few, at least in spirit), since Mark has become a US traitor by acting like a total globalist and using some of his billions to sell out his own country. And since he has done THAT it makes no difference what other actions he takes to "look like a philanthropist" and I COULDN'T CARE LESS what manner of cheap emotional claptrap he may be using to promote the completely false narrative he's using to make it seem as if there isn't a crisis among engineers trying to find jobs in their traditional fields of employment. I'm not taking back a single word I said, all I will say is it's regrettable that there isn't better education in this country to counter this self-centered globalist propaganda that makes it look as if our country's only problem is "we just aren't doing enough in terms of tech education for the C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N" and it looks as if you're all falling for it hook line and stinker(sp)!!
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