Common & Angela Rye's Break-Up Reminds Us To Pick A Person—And A Path

"The path of love is its own reward. Your love itself, that is what completes you."—Frederick Lenz

Love & Relationships

While getting my nails done a couple of weeks ago, my tech and I tried to figure out what year, in the Chinese calendar, we were headed into. As we came to the conclusion that 2020 was going to be the Year of the Rat, that reminded me to look up what 20, overall, symbolizes. It's quite interesting. You probably already know that 20/20 represents perfect vision. As far as angel numbers go, 20 stands for positivity, optimism and a happy future. On the numerology tip, some associate 20 with relationships and cooperation. In the Hebrew language, the word "kaph" represents the number 20 and also translates into the open palm of one's hand, as if to tame or subdue oneself as an act of surrender. But probably, what stands out to me the most, specifically as it relates to this particular topic, is what 20 biblically symbolizes. It represents—wait for it—"a complete or perfect waiting period".

Now on the eve of the year 2020, watch how all of this comes together like a beautiful Happy New Year present from the Universe via someone else's relational journey.

2019 Marked the (Greater) Evolution of the Artist Common

Personally, I've always appreciated what hip-hop artist and actor Common has brought to the culture. That's why, last spring, I was appreciative when our managing editor Sheriden Chanel allowed me to pen the piece "Common, Thanks For Talking About Black Male Molestation. We Need To More Often". As someone who is making it my mission in 2020 to be very intentional about affirming Black men more often, I wanted to publicly praise Common for his candor and courage. From there, we started to check for Common's evolution more and more via pieces like "Common Admits To Seeking Therapy For His Addiction To Love", "More Than A Rapper, Common Reminds Us Why A Father's Love Is So Important", and "Everything We Learned About Love From Common's 'Red Table Talk'" (which ran last July).

Being that I am, for the most part, a sex and relationships writer, I knew about his on-again-off-again relationship with attorney, commentator and political strategist, Angela Rye (you can check out her The Breakfast Club interviews throughout the years here). Between all of the self-work that Common was clearly doing and the rumblings in the media that he and Angela had gotten back together, in my mind, I was like, "Looks like these two will be jumping somebody's broom come next summer." Especially since, via his Red Table Talk, this came out of his own mouth:

"I would like to be a husband. I think that for a long time, I was in and out with that. Do I really wanna be a husband or am I doing this because this is what society says to? Now, I just want that partnership to be able to experience life, where I'm growing as a human being and kind of just spark each other. It's fun too. I know it's hard at times."

It was right around this time last year when I wrote the article "One Overlooked Yet Obvious Indicator That A Man Is Husband Material". In my opinion, what exactly would that indicator be? A man who says that he wants to be married. A pull-out quote from the piece states this:

Is he dating with a purpose (with that purpose being to find a life partner)? Does he say that marriage is a part of his life plan? Is it evident that he's preparing for a wife and family? And — please get this — does he state that he wants to get married sooner than later? (Meaning within a couple of years rather than him saying something along the lines of "I mean…maybe…someday.")

If you can confidently say "yes" to these questions because you've actually asked him and you heard "yes" come out of his own mouth, then yes, he is marriage material.

So yeah, since Common said, in his own words, that he wanted to be a husband, and since he also put on record that he was seeing someone (who we did later find out was indeed Ms. Rye), it was fair to put two-and-two together. Common was no longer running from love and he was back with someone he deeply cared for. As a bonus, he was interested in marriage. Wins all the way around.

That's why, it initially hurt my feelings, just a little bit, when I heard several weeks back that Common and Angela were no longer together. That is, until I read why they broke up (again). After hearing and processing the explanation, I must admit that I could only salute their self-awareness (peep the last point about self-awareness in the article "These Are The Things Self-Aware People Do Daily") and ask my editor again for an opportunity to share the lesson that I personally got out of their experience. Thankfully, Sheriden obliged. As we're hours away from 2020, it truly is a gem. I can promise you that.

A Great Point via Angela Rye—When You Choose a Person, You Also Choose a Path

Last night, while I was chillin' and internet surfin', I peeped that it was Tyrese's birthday (Happy Belated, sir). BET Soul has a knack for playing an artist's videos on their birthday, so I watched some of his hits (I forgot how many of them there actually were; it's a lot). Anyway, when Tyrese's song "Best of Me" came on, I peeped that part of it says this—"I feel I could conquer the world with you by my side/Cause of your unconditional love baby that's why/You bring out the best in me, cause you are the best baby/And if I had to do it again (I'll still choose you girl)/You bring out the best in me, 'cause you are the best, baby". This just happened to come on while I was reading a Bossip article entitled, "Angela Rye Confirms Common Breakup 'We Will Always Be Friends'". The best means "of the highest quality, excellence, or standing". The best also means "most advantageous, suitable, or desirable". Synonyms for best include first-rate, beyond compare, culminating (that's a really good one), prime, greatest, matchless and unrivaled. Now watch this.

As I read, in Angela's own words (via her podcast), about why she and Common decided to call it quits, for the second time, my initial disappointment transformed into pure excitement. Odd? After you read this, I'm hoping that you won't think so:

"What I would say happened is we broke up. We were together for about a year this time and we broke up, I think it was September-ish maybe, because we just want different things. This was right after the time that I realized I was going to take the second godson, the 9-year-old [Ryan], more often. I had told him about it the day before. We had been talking probably for two months about 'Let's see where things go' because I'm leaning towards 'I want kids' and he was leaning towards 'I don't know,' and I think when somebody tells you they don't know, they don't really want that, they just don't want to hurt you.

"For me, I was like, I'm clear, I'm getting clarity around what I want for myself…so the thing that I would say is he is more established in his career and we have a little bit of an age difference and he has a fully grown wonderful human daughter I love, Omoye, in law school so not wanting to start over is a thing."

Yes Angela. Yaaas. No matter how many articles I write on relationships, nine times out of 10, the messages are for me first. So, back when I wrote, "Is It OK To Love A Man More Than He Loves You?" last spring and "Love Is Patient. But Is Your Relationship Just Wasting Your Time?" a few weeks prior to that, I must say that Angela's resolve brought both of those back to my remembrance. How dope it is, really, that two people can care about one other enough to basically say, "I do love you, but I love myself too much to not get all of what I want and feel like I deserve. And since we're not on the same page about those things, we should let each other go…so that we can get to them?" (See "What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like".) And really, doesn't that look like what Angela did? She wants kids. Common is unsure. They weren't on the same page. It was time to move on. No love is lost; it's simply—redirected.

Something that far too many of us miss when it comes to relationships is something that I share in every premarital counseling session that I can—when you are looking for the right fit for you, it's not just about choosing a person; it's also about selecting the path that you want to be on. There are some guys I've dated who, to this day, I adore. But whether it's their career path, their future plans, or certain priorities that don't complement my own, I stopped seeing them. Not because of who they are as an individual, but because a true partnership, in many ways, walks side-by-side, on the same path. Why be with someone and then fight them at every turn, simply because they are going in a direction that you can't be enthusiastic about or support because it doesn't complement your own?

If you don't want children, why date a man who desires kids within the next two years?

If you're not sure what you think about religion at all, why go out with a man who is a pastor?

If you cringe at the thought of being a "traditional wife", why get involved with a man who has traditional expectations?

If you want to see the world, why get serious about a homebody?

If your libido is off the charts, why consider someone who doesn't make sexual intimacy a top priority?

If you want a constant sense of stability when it comes to one's finances or daily routine, why see an entertainer or entrepreneur?

If you want to get married, why date a guy who doesn't?

This is why, I'm all about people going on dates and asking some real questions while they're on them. Just because someone is fine, funny and shares some of your interests, that doesn't automatically mean they are the right fit for you; that doesn't mean they will complement your life's path. And because each one of us is here to fulfill a particular purpose, and also because we all have certain desires and goals, it's important that we don't get so caught up in "him" that we forget how important our path truly is. It's essential that we apply to our lives what the philosopher Siddhārtha Gautama once said—"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."

In other words if, as a single woman, you are distracted by a man instead of loyal to your purpose and desires, you could end up resenting the very man you love, all because you're on a path that isn't BEST—excellent, most advantageous, unrivaled—for you. That won't be his fault either. It will be yours.

Bottom Line: Allow 2020 to “Perfect Your Wait”


And that's why, I think, what Angela shared about her break-up with Common, is actually a really great way to step into 2020. Remember how I said at the very beginning of this that, in the Bible, 20 represents perfection in waiting? Being perfect is about "having all essential elements" and to wait is "to be available or in readiness". Listen, I don't care if you've been single for a while and you're totally sick of it at this point, you've recently broken up with someone, or your relationship is lying somewhere in the balance (if so, check out "Should You Take A Break? Or Break Up For Good?" and "Is Your Relationship Complicated? Simplify It With These Questions")—make the conscious decision to allow 2020 to be YOUR YEAR.

Focus on being clear about the essential elements that you desire—and require—for a successful relationship. Then make sure that you are truly ready for when those things arise. And don't forget that your path is just as important as the person—always remember that "your one" will check both boxes; he will be a great individual and he will complement your journey. Not either or—both.

Common and Angela—thank you for the pearls of wisdom that you shared with us in 2019. It is my hope and prayer that your wait is perfected in the very best way possible. xoTribe, the same goes for you. May 2020 either put you on your path or keep you on it…so that your person can meet you there. Not just any guy. The right one. Just you wait, sis. Just. You. Wait.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Is He REALLY The One Who Got Away?

The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have

If Your Man Is Missing These Things, Wait Before Marrying Him

Why You Need To Grieve Your Past Relationship

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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