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, in L.A., we’ve been focused on the hood, and let me tell you…it’s all good in the hood.

I haven’t written about it yet on my site until today, but over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on a project that’s been appropriately titled, “My Hood Votes.”

“My Hood Votes” is a grassroots education and mobilization campaign designed to engage non-traditional voters in underserved Black neighborhoods commonly referred to as ‘the hood.’

I’ve been able to partner with rappers and entertainers to educate ex-felons on their right to vote as well as other non-traditional voters who aren’t influenced by elected officials, who don’t watch the news or political debates. These are the same people who 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. If every vote counts, well then, so does Ezell’s, Sha Nay Nay’s, and Baby Boy’s and we can’t ignore them or the communities they are in because they may be less desirable or considered to be dangerous.

You and both know that 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.

Eric ‘Lil Eazy E’ Wright Jr., son of the late rapper Eazy E,
registers a self described member of the Bloods gang to vote
in Compton, California, as part of the ‘My Hood Votes’ campaign kickoff

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 got there. I think it had to do with my parents divorce and splitting time between two 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,” lol.

My grandfather owned several businesses and 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 done in politics in some way or another has had to do with Compton. All of the Members I have worked for have represented Compton in their district make-up. Simply put, I heart Compton, so where else would I kick off a campaign titled “My Hood Votes” but in the CPT. Holla!

What I didn’t count on was embarking 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.

I’ll be 31 next week, so 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 Eazy E before he passed away, he had a profound impact on my life as did the other members of N.W.A. So it’s a bit surreal for me to be working side by side with his son Eric ‘Lil Eazy E’ Wright Jr. (who is the spitting image of his Dad) 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. I’m still tripping off of that.

The A Team’s Hannibal always said he loves it when a plan comes together. Ditto.

(Clockwise) Amy Maloe, CEO, GIC Public Relations, Jasmyne Cannick, political actvist, journalist, and founder of ‘My Hood Votes,’ Richard Wright, grandfather of Lil Eazy E and father of the late rapper Eric ‘Eazy E’ Wright, Eric ‘Lil Eazy E’ Wright Jr., son late rapper Eazy E, Kathie Wright, grandmother of Lil Eazy E and mother of late rapper Eazy E, Minister Tony Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, Guy Black, host of ‘The Guy Black Show’ on Radio Free 102.3 KJLH, and Felicia ‘The Poetess’ Morris,
co-host of The Foxx Hole w/Jamie Foxx on Sirius Satellite Radio.

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 outs 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, Sgt. Byron Woods and the Compton Sheriff’s Station, Herb the III, Valerie, Bobby, 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. And after November 4, the work continues. We vote every year, whether it be a local, state or national election. All elections affect the hood, our hoods, and we have to start representing our interests. I guarantee you that when we do the candidates will be forced to address us and the issues we bring to the table.

Check it out at www.MyHoodVotes.com.

All photos courtesy of Shon Smith for D’Angelo’s Photos.