Over the course of the presidential and vice-presidential candidate's debates, it's become crystal clear that both Democrats and Republicans are focused on one segment of the American population, the middle class. Hence, the absence of any mention of the word poverty, even though it is a way of life for more than 37 million people in this country.
So while the candidates continue to be focused on the wealthy and middle class, I thought it was important to turn our attention to the hood...where it's all good.
As you may or may not know, I spent a good part of my childhood in Compton, on Clymar and Alondra to be exact. It's funny, but I didn't care much for Compton when I first moved there. I think it had to do with my parent's divorce and splitting time between far extremes, Mom's in Hermosa Beach and my Dad's in Compton. Add to that my sisters and I still had to trek to Hermosa Beach to go to school, which didn't go over too well with the neighborhood kids who already thought we "talked white."
My grandfather owned several businesses in Compton and even though he has since passed, my family still lives on Dwight and Compton Blvd. and in the Twilight Zone, 157th San Pedro. Add to that, nearly all of the work I have intentionally made sure that in the work that I do, Compton is never far from mind, including the elected's I have worked. Simply put, I heart Compton, so where else would I kick off a campaign appropriately titled "My Hood Votes" but in the CPT. Holla!
"My Hood Votes" is a grassroots education and mobilization campaign designed to engage non-traditional Black voters in underserved neighborhoods affectionately referred to as the hood. Laugh if you want, but there is a plethora of potential Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, and Green Party voters who aren't influenced by elected officials, who don't watch the news or political debates-they don't even read this paper. These are the same people who more often than not, aren't online, and who are not currently engaged in the upcoming election, other than knowing that a Black man is running for President. Basically your parking lot kings and queens, the brothas and sistas who sit on the stoop all day long, gang bangers, welfare and general relief recipients, crackheads, and the like.
These potential voters are often overlooked by both party's voter education campaigns in an effort to reach more likely voters such as the middle class and seniors. But my belief is that if every vote counts, well then, so does Ezell's, Sha Nay Nay's, and Baby Boy's and we can't ignore them because we don't like them or we're too scared to canvass in their neighborhoods.
I figured the best way to accomplish this goal, was a partnership with local rappers and entertainers, many who came out of these hoods, could help to reach out and educate our people using their influence and sway.
Now I may not agree with the all of the lyrics of some of the rappers, but that doesn't mean that I am blind to the influence that they have in our communities. And contrary to popular belief, all rappers aren't gangbangers and thugs...Mr. and Mrs. "We Don't Need No Rappers at the Compton Obama Headquarters Helping to Register People to Vote Because We Already Have Gangbangers Across the Street" Holifield.
So with that in mind, I embarked on this journey with a group of wonderfully talented individuals who are just as committed to the cause and our people as I am. People who I continue to be in awe of and inspired by everyday.
I'll be 31 next week, so that means that I came up right around the time West Coast rap music was taking off, in particular N.W.A. While I never had the opportunity to meet rap legend Eazy E before he passed away, he had a profound impact on my life, as did the other members of N.W.A. Needless to say, it's a bit surreal for me to working side by side with his son Eric 'Lil Eazy E' Wright Jr. on the "My Hood Votes" campaign, but a perfect match indeed. Lil Eazy E is as much a part of Compton as I am. And we both have a special place in our heart for the city and the people that live there. But even more surreal, is having met Eazy E's parents and been invited into the house that he grew up in as a child, a house that his parents, Lil E's grandparents, still call home, to kick it all off.
The A Team's Hannibal always said he loves it when a plan comes together. Ditto.
All of the pieces and people fell into place to make this happen and for that I am extremely grateful. So let me do a Sarah Palin and interject a few shouts and thank yous to everyone who came out and gave of their time on Saturday to represent for the hood:
Lil E and company, Richard and Kathie Wright, Amy, Poetess, Niele, Shon, Oduduwa, Minister Tony and the brother from the Nation, funnyman Guy Black, Terra, Theo and 93.5 The Beat FM, the Los Angeles Sentinel, Sgt. Byron Woods and the Compton Sheriff's Station, Herb the III, and of course the City of Compton. A big shout out to all of the rappers and entertainers that have signed on offered to support our campaign. Miki Howard, Big Boy, Mack 10, DJ Pooh, Lunelle, Raymond Cunningham, and our brotha Jaime Foxx. We can do this, thank you so much for your support. This is just the beginning.
We all undertake projects that we feel very strongly about and this was something I have wanted to kick off for a long time. And even though it's just the tip of the iceberg, I am confident that together we can expand "My Hood Votes" to a national effort that's run by us and for us. While I'm not knocking initiatives like Rock the Vote, but that works for them and we need something that works for us.
So Compton was the beginning and before it's all said and done we'll be representing in Watts, Inglewood, South L.A., and more. After November 4, remember that the work continues. We don't vote every four years, there are local and state elections that have a profound impact on the hood. So it's critical to the Movement that we don't loose the momentum and that we have now come November 5.
My name is Jasmyne Cannick. I am a 30-year-old registered Democrat and I am representing for West Adams and Compton where My Hood Votes.
At 30, Jasmyne Cannick is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class, sexuality, and politics as it relates to the African-American community. A regular contributor to NPR's 'News and Notes,' she was chosen as one Essence Magazine's 25 Women Shaping the World. She can be reached at www.jasmynecannick.com or www.myspace.com/jasmynecannick.