November 01, 2012
By Jasmyne A. Cannick
LAWT Contributing Writer
After choosing to re-elect President Barack Obama, on Tuesday, November 6, voters in the newly drawn 44th congressional district which includes my hometown of Compton, along with Carson, Watts, North Long Beach, and Lynwood, will have to choose who they want to represent them in the House of Representatives — Laura Richardson, a woman who has been the underdog in every race she’s entered or Janice Hahn, a woman who is banking on Black voters’ love affair with her father Kenneth Hahn.
I am 35 years old so I don’t share in the alleged love affair and feel good memories that Hahn believes all Black voters have about her father. I never even met the man. On the other hand, I do remember her brother’s reign in City Hall quite well, including his appointment of Bill Bratton, the former NYPD Commissioner, as police chief of Los Angeles and the ousting of Bernard Parks as chief. I remember that Blacks played an integral role in James Hahn’s victory in the 2001 mayoral election, but by 2005 when it was time for his re-election, we finally woke up and moved our support elsewhere.
But back to Kenneth Hahn. Whenever Janice Hahn speaks to a group of Black people she’s quick to try and evoke those feel good feelings from the days when her father served as a Los Angeles County supervisor. She’s daddy’s little girl here to remind us all of her father’s respect for fairness and civil rights and his love of Black people.
So I did a little research of my own—and you know what, she’s right. Janice Hahn is right about her father’s record and relationship with the African-American community. Everyone I have spoken to who either worked with or for Kenneth Hahn, agrees that he was a man of his word and that he was an ardent supporter of civil rights throughout the 1960s, even meeting Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1961 when King came to Los Angeles.
However, with Daddy Hahn’s stated and shown support for the Civil Rights Movement and its goals, I wonder would he have changed districts and become a challenger in a district carrying the mantle of being a Voting Rights Act district? Would Kenneth Hahn sanction the ousting of one of only three African-American members of Congress from Southern California so that a Hahn—more importantly his daughter—could remain in office?
He’s not here, so I’ll never know for sure, but I seriously doubt it—not if his relationship and feelings towards the African-American community were genuine he wouldn't have.
But that’s exactly what his daughter Janice Hahn is hoping to do.
Much of Hahn’s current 36th congressional district went into the newly re-drawn 33rd congressional district, now being represented by Henry Waxman. But rather than face Waxman, a veteran member of Congress who identifies as being Jewish and is male—Hahn decided to try and further disenfranchise Black voters in Los Angeles by taking out one of the lone three Black members left in Southern California, Laura Richardson. Which left me wondering, would Hahn have made such a bold move against Laura’s mentor and predecessor the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald or even the Honorable Mervyn Dymally, both of whom at one time during their political careers represented the area in question in Congress?
Forty seven years ago, the Voting Rights Act was passed outlawing discriminatory voting practices that disenfranchised African-Americans.
As a result, the government was ordered to create congressional districts specifically for African Americans. The new 44th congressional district has been designated by the government as a Voting Rights Act District. It was created to help voters in that area elect an African-American to the House of Representatives.
There are only three African-American members of Congress left in Southern California to represent our interests and Laura Richardson is one of them.
We can’t afford to lose any of them.
Throughout this campaign season, only one candidate has demonstrated her love and commitment to Compton, Willowbrook, Watts, Carson, and North Long Beach, and that’s been Laura Richardson. Her opponent, if elected can’t be counted on to do the same. Hahn’s focus has been and continues to be on the city of San Pedro, the Ports, and eagerly awaiting Don Knabe’s retirement from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors so that she can really fulfill the Hahn legacy and run for that seat.
On Tuesday, November 6, vote for Laura Richardson because she’s real, she gets it, and she’s one of us.
Chosen as one of Essence magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World, Jasmyne A. Cannick works as a political consultant. She is also a political, race, and pop culture critic, journalist, radio, and television personality based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @jasmyne and @fatdiary and on Facebook at /jasmyne.