I just watched the video for your new song “No Guns Allowed,” featuring Drake and your daughter, Cori B, and I felt compelled to write you a letter to tell you how proud I am of your Reincarnated movement. I am the national executive director at the League of Young Voters, an organization that has led anti-violence campaigns in low-income, urban communities for 10 years. At a time when it seems that our culture of violence is leading America toward self-destruction, you have stepped up to say that enough is a enough when it comes to gun violence. You’re right — our daughters and sons are losing their minds.
Every hour, four people in the United States are killed by firearms. While that’s a heartbreaking statistic, I am so inspired that you are using your platform to speak up about the nation’s violence issue. I want you to know that the League of Young Voters is committed to spreading your anti-violence messages to prevent future tragedies.
After watching your film, Reincarnated, I realized that this couldn’t have been an easy decision to use your art in this way. Not only has your brand become synonymous with the take-no-nonsense aggression of gangsta rap, but you also know that the harsh realities of Southern California street culture won’t simply disappear because you have adopted a more peaceful attitude. When I was a hip-hop journalist on the West Coast from 2001-2006, I knew that violence could break out anywhere and at any moment. It takes real courage to be a leader for peace when others are still actively promoting destruction.
I ultimately left Los Angeles because I felt a calling to work in my home community of Milwaukee. Most people don’t know it, but Milwaukee is one of the youngest, poorest and most segregated cities in the country. I have lost family members, students and mentees to guns. When I lived in LA, I often grimly joked with people that Milwaukee was just like Compton, because of the all-too-familiar hopelessness I felt when interacting with youth from South Los Angeles.