Over the course of his long, multi-hyphenate career, Common has taken up charitable efforts as wide-ranging as his talents; raising awareness on issues like animal rights, HIV/AIDS, under privileged children and gun control.
Now, the rapper-actor-author is turning his sights towards blindness, and teaming up with See America, Allergan’s initiative to fight against preventable blindness in the United States. Together, Common and Allergan produced a new PSA that aims to spread awareness about the 61 million Americans currently at-risk of severe vision loss.
“I was inspired to get involved because it’s about raising awareness, and blindness is an issue that Americans are dealing with that we don’t really think about,” Common tells PEOPLE.
“It’s one of those things that until it’s happening to you, you don’t think about it,” he adds. “But learning how to prevent these things by being aware and taking care of ourselves is what inspired me to get involved.”
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As for what drew him to the project, Common explains, “I look for things to do in life where I can help people, and looking at See America, the awareness that they’re bringing to the American people when it comes to blindness, I knew it was something I wanted to be involved with.”
He also has a personal connection to the project. “As a kid, I had issues with sight, and one of the scariest things I can think about is going blind,” he says. “When my vision started to fade, it made me want to figure out what I could do to make sure my sight was at the level it should be.”
While his childhood vision loss plateaued as he got older, Common says the experience left a mark on him. “You really begin to appreciate your sight when you start having issues yourself,” he explains.
The video, titled “Stand in the Way of Darkness,” utilizes Common’s poetic prowess and story telling to highlight the issues important to See America’s mission. “As long as we do it in a creative and cool way, then I’m all for it,” he says of making the video. “And that’s what we did, we made a beautiful piece that I’m very happy about.”