Common covers overcoming sexual abuse, love, relationship advice from Michelle Obama, and redefining what it means to be a black man and father, in new Breakfast Club interview.
Today, Chicago native Common sat down with The Breakfast Club to talk about issues that are brought up in his new memoir, Let Love Have The Last Word.
The interview touched upon a lot of heavy issues concerning sexual abuse, love, forgiveness, relationships, and what it means to be a black man, and father in today's society.
The hosts and artist start by discussing the title of the book, which Common explains as having come from all the recent politics in the world, the violence and the hate, and the importance of love amidst all this. “Not love in like a mushy, lovey-dovey way," he clarifies, "but love in action, respecting each other, loving each other, loving ourselves.”
He goes on to talk about the importance of communication in all aspects of our lives, starting with the reason he wrote this novel, as a means to communicate to others his "daily practices" and "stories." He continues, “I wanna tell those stories so people who go through it feel like, 'man I understand, like I aint always gonna have it perfect, but love is a daily practice.'"
They then go on to discuss Common's realization of his sexual abuse as a child, and what inspired him to open up to others about it. He explained how he came about realizing his abuse whilst filming a movie where molestation was brought up, and how acknowledging this issue and talking about it gave him the sort of release he needed to let go of his resentments and trauma. “When you release that you just feel a certain peace. [..] I just wanna be at peace and I want people to be at peace," he said.
Common continued to talk about the stigma of addressing sexual abuse, especially as a black man. When asked about what gave him the courage to open up to the public he replied, “Faith in God and my spirituality, whatever happens on the outside, if I’m strong enough on the inside to know who I am then I’m good.” He added how he believed that with their platforms, they acted as leaders, or the voice of the people, and that “sometimes leaders gotta step out there. As simple as that."
The rapper and actor stressed the importance of being able to admit things to yourself, and the first step of that being, the ability to be vulnerable. “Being able to be open and express vulnerabilities. Express love for a woman, love for God. Man, I got courage in doing that, I got faith in doing that, I believe in doing that. And as black men, I feel like man we need that because we been taught it's weak to go to therapy.”
In continuing the discussion about what it means to be black in today's society, Common explains how “our culture, the way we grew up, we inherited a lot of pain and suffering and that’s been passed down.”
“Our mentality was just to survive. The way society placed us, we came from a deficit, but I feel like we're the ones who overcame a lot of things and if we just focus on those things, and then working through the worst in us,” remarked Common.
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He talked about meeting prison inmates, and the courage they taught him in being vulnerable and honest with yourself, and the fact that many of them resorted to violent acts because of the trauma they had experienced as children and the lack of resources they had to deal with them properly.
The conversation then shifted to the lighter topic of love and relationships as they talked and joked about a conversation Common had with Michelle Obama herself, on the importance of compromise within a relationship. “She has given me a lot of wisdom, one great thing she told me is that you have to understand you're not going to get anyone that’s perfect because you’re not perfect; so understand that there’s some certain things you will compromise in choosing that partner, but as long as the core values that are most important to you marks off on that list, then you good."
On the topic of love, they spoke about the importance of self-love in being able to fully love others. "Anytime I felt somebody was hating, it was because they was hating on themselves, they aint have that love for themselves. [..] When you start loving yourself in the greatest way, in the best way, you know that like, hey can’t nobody feel that slap. What’s for me is for me, and you start being like alright man good job, you did well, do your thing. It definitely has helped to be more secure, more confident, and just to be free.”
He also addressed some issues he had with his daughter in the past, and how communication helped to bring everything to the surface and worked out. He went on to discuss the parent-child dynamic that persists today with the one from a generation prior, and stressed that talking about everything with your children is essential in helping them grow up to be the best versions of themselves. "Our parents raised us in the best way they could but the 'you do it because I told u to do it,' those things don’t work for our generation and all the way to the kids now," he says. "They wanna know why and it's okay for them to know why."
Common (R) and daughter Omoye Assata Lynn - Phillip Faraone/Getty Images
Finally, he discusses the school he will be opening in Chicago in September: AIM (Arts In Motion), which is aimed (no pun intended) at providing the youth with emotional and social intelligence, and the necessary tools and therapy, that will help them succeed in life. "That’s the main reason why people out here hurting each other: because they’re in pain. We gotta create jobs, we gotta give mental health support, we gotta give different ways of expressing (yourself)."
If you're interested in hearing some wisdom being shed on the issues covered on top, you should definitely watch the full video below.