Just ask Common: He’s proud of his artistic achievements. But the oft-acclaimed rapper and actor is quick to point out that’s one face of success’s double-sided coin. He feels a responsibility to give back—especially to the black community.

Reaching out

“I feel it’s an honor and privilege to do it,” he says, particularly for the kids, who “need to see successful, intelligent, compassionate, caring, fun black people.”

One year after winning his Best Song Oscar with John Legend for “Glory,” featured in the film “Selma,” Common wants to continue the positive momentum.

“We have to reach out with compassion, love and understanding,” he says. And the outreach needs to be consistent on many levels, including spiritual: “We have to listen to young men and see what their struggles are, what’s really on their minds.”

Becoming the difference

As a kid growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Common admits he had access to drugs and gangs. “But I also had access to the computer programs at the museum of science,” he counters. “And I also had access to basketball.” He wants to give kids programs to support their interests, too, noting they offer “some hope, some aspirations.”

When it comes to civil rights in America, he’s optimistic. “Yes, I’m a believer,” Common says. It’s the community, he continues, including blacks, that must focus on what changes can be made after a protest—the community that has to push for changes to laws.

Meanwhile, as an entertainer, he is encouraged by shifts in the entertainment industry’s portrayal of blacks in music, TV and film, mentioning shows like “Blackish” and “Empire” as beacons of “black imagination and black culture.

“I just want black people to be portrayed in quality, great material, great work.”