Artist and actor Common joined the NOW panel Tuesday to discuss his latest film, "Luv"--a coming-of-age film set in Baltimore, which is due to hit theaters January 18th--as well as talk more generally about poverty and gun violence in America.
"I really feel that we need to restructure the black family," he said. "Within the inner cities, we don't have a lot of correct parenting and we have to change that. We have to figure out what we can do to change that. We know we're starting from a deficit right now. We have to figure out what we can do as elders and as young people to support each other."
On the issue of gun control, Common, 40, disagreed with NRA Executive Vice president Wayne LaPierre who said the only way to stop gun tragedies like the one in Newtown, CT was to put an armed police officer in every school.
"I think the biggest issue for our young people is to have opportunities to dream, to have guidance, to have love and support," he said. "More guns are never the solution. Putting more guns in there is not going to solve anything."
The panel also discussed Chicago and its dubious distinction of being the U.S. murder capital in 2012 with 506 homicides. Common, who grew up in Chicago, noted that poverty and the disintegration of the family played a large role in the cycle of violence.
Alex cited statistics showing that almost three-quarters of all homicide victims in Chicago were African-American; 19.5% were Latino and just 4.3% were white.
Common noted that while he was exposed to a certain amount of poverty and "street elements," he was lucky enough to grow up in a black middle-class Chicago neighborhood. The panel also talked about the effect that positive role models like President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama can have on inner-city youth.
"That's the best image we can see for young, black and Latino people," Common said. "I remember I had the opportunity to do a film and some young people saw that I was gonna play a superhero and they were like 'wow, that's the first time that we've ever seen a black guy playing a superhero,'" he marveled. "It's a beautiful thing for us to see outside of entertainment to see the President and First Lady in office, I mean that's what we need. "