Dr. Maya Angelou sought to clarify her earlier statements regarding rapper Common and his lyrics. The famed poet spoke out against Common after appearing on his song "The Dreamer." Angelou said she was 'disappointed' that the rapper used the N-word throughout his album and said she did not realize that would be the case before she agreed to appear on the track.
She explained her position on BET's "106 & Park."
“I don’t think the word “disappointment” quite makes it. I was “surprised,” she said. "I know that Common is brilliant. He may, in fact, be close enough to be called a genius – I’m not sure. I know that we are all in process and young artists are in process. It’s important to realize that all of you – all of us – [are in process]. There was a statement made by Machiavelli in the 15th century. He said if you want to control the people, separate them, and you can rule them. Divide them and you can conquer them. I will not be divided from Common."
"By anybody’s imagination, he is brilliant and even genius, maybe," she continued. "But certainly smarter than us to know that he’s in process. And next week, he might not even use the N-word[,] or the B-word. It may even take two or three weeks, or a month. But I’m not going to be separated from him."
“Do your best to not be divided. This doesn’t mean you are supposed to support everything anybody says. Say 'I disagree, but I don’t disagree to the point where I want you dead and out of here,'" she added. "You must understand that, people, we live in direct relation to the heroes and sheroes we have. Always and in always if we don’t have heroes and sheroes and keep them alive, we are nothing.“