Photo: C.J. LaFrance/Stringer
The hip-hop songbird and president of the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN) on manners, music, and her mission.
1. It's not always my fault. I grew up in an environment where people were constantly "frowned up," and I assumed they were upset because of something I'd done. But the most beautiful thing has happened to me: I'm unlearning self-blame. Now I can say, "No, that's not about me. That's their burden, their bump in the road."
2. Good manners are underrated. As a kid, I would visit my grandparents, aunts, and cousins down South, where it was all about "Please. Yes, ma'am. Thank you." My family loved it when I showed humility and patience. Even now, I can't stand rudeness.
3. A lie is a lie, period. I'm scared even to tell a little white lie, because it will keep on building. You'll have to tell another lie and then another to cover that first small fib.
4. I'd bring a radio to a desert island. I couldn't just sit in silence! There'd come a moment when I'd need to hear Stevie Wonder or Chaka Khan. And classic hip-hop—Rakim, KRS-One, Biggie. That music makes me move.
5. All I've ever wanted to do is help women. I saw women in my family and my neighborhood getting beaten up by men. I mean, destroyed. When I was 5, I told my mother, "I can't take this anymore. I'm going to do everything I can to save women." Since that day, it's been the most important thing to me. It's the reason FFAWN exists.
What They Know For Sure
From the December 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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