PTW Pick - Let Love Have the Last Word
Written By: Ashley M Coleman
Rarely do we get a glimpse into the world of healing, self-exploration, and discovery from a black man, especially a prominent figure in hip-hop and Hollywood so Let Love Have the Last Word was a refreshing read. Common, who many of us have admired from afar and accredit to conscious raps and activism among other things, seems to have given us a more intimate look at Rashid, the man, the father, the son, and longing lover.
The memoir in my estimation reads much like an intimate journal entry. One where you sometimes have more questions than answers by the end of it. Where revelations come likely even as you write and the facade that you can keep up with others dissipates within the confines of the pages.
The book begins with Common recounting a moment of reflection at a styling fitting and sets us up for the reflection to follow in the memoir. His story feels like the moment in time when you see yourself, really see yourself for the first time, in a long time, especially as we age and gain more wisdom and insight on life.
The Oscar-winner explores love in many facets. Not just romantically, but in his relationship with his daughter, in his work as a rapper and actor, for black people and God. He writes:
“To love God, no matter the name, and no matter the religion, is to make a whole-hearted reach toward the universal, to come to see for oneself that in spite of the lonely feelings we have as individual people, each of us can still stand on our own two feet, supported by a higher and deeper power.”
On his fatherhood:
Common writes about when his daughter Omoye called him with her own version of events when it came to his role as a father. He reflects on how hurtful it felt to be called out for not being possibly as good as a father as he may have thought himself and the process to work through those feeling with himself and Omoye. This moment in recalled in the book in various instances and becomes somewhat of a thread through the memoir. His revelation within that construct mirrors much of what he has learned about himself in general, not only in relation to fatherhood. Themes of how we’re viewed by others versus how we view ourselves and how we’re able to start breaking down that miscommunication are present in relationships, growing up and even in professional work.
It’s common knowledge, no pun intended, that we’ve often seen Common in prominent relationships only to see them end, seemingly amicably, so I know many have wondered what the deal might be and he faces it head on admitting to being addicted to love and the honeymoon stage and often calling it quits when the real work of being in relationship kicks in. He openly admits to being closed off, selfish, and one to bury himself in work never standing still for long, which finds its issue of course with various partners. But it stuck out that he remains hopeful of finding true partnership.
Many of us have been witness to Common’s philanthropic work through his Common Ground Foundation among many other initiatives but the book gives us an in-depth look at his Hope and Redemption Tour in 2017 and 2018 and the lessons and insight he took from the time that he spent with incarcerated men and women. At the smallest level, he speaks of the importance of seeing those that are incarcerated as people and what that small amount of respect can do for a person that’s locked away. With one of the largest incarcerated populations in the world, it was important to be reminded of the people that are there, some that committed crimes at 17 and may never see themselves within the general population again.
From highlighting important issues like mass incarceration to talking openly about therapy and buried childhood traumas, I feel this is an important book especially coming from a black man in America. The more that we can talk openly about what it is to know yourself and to explore who you are and reflect, the better off I think we all are as a community. As black give themselves permission to tell their stories, openly and honestly, they give others permission to do the same. I love this quote about the importance of seeing yourself.
“... acknowledgment can help us to understand the impact our actions can have, and when we’re no longer confused—when we can start to see ourselves more clearly—we have a chance to finally let our higher selves shine through.”
It seems Common is on a journey to his higher self and writing this book was likely a catalyst to more of an understanding himself. It was captivating to read about his revelations and self-discovery, but more importantly, I think readers will take something away about how they see themselves and the work they also may need to do to vibrate higher.